Musical and Linguistic Stories from the Homeland

Die Presse, August 22, 2017

German original:

A Rabbi, a singer, and a pianist meet in the Tyrolean mountains: Jasmin Meiri-Brauer delivers her musical debut in Alpbach – together with Rabbi Walter Rothschild and Max Doehlemann.

Very personal, very sad, and with black humor – this is what Jasmin Meiri-Brauer promises for the evening. The Austrian singer is performing at the Alpbach fire station house together with Rabbi and musician Walther Rothschild and pianist Max Doehlemann. The trio wants to tell Jewish stories and ballads- for example about circumcision. Or institutionalized sexism. Or the king father.

The musicians unite their life stories to a musical unity; in principle Rabbi Rothschild narrates his life story – with lots of humor, as Meiri-Brauer underlines: „The humor he displays loosens the rigorand dryness of orthodox religiosity.“ Although, Rothshild is the Rabbi of Vienna’s liberal Jewish community. „One simply should not take oneself too seriously,“ Meiri-Brauer added.
Yiddish as a Rarity

Anecdotes, jokes, songs. Rothschild and Berlin-based pianist Doehlemann have already performed together several times, for Meiri-Brauer the gig with the two musicians is a premiere. The 26-year old sings in Hebrew and Yiddish. The latter is seldom amongst her generation, where the language has almost vanished she says. Yiddish reminds her foremost of her Polish-Jewish grandmother, who still used the language on an everyday basis: „Yiddish used to be the spoken language, Hebrew the holy language of the Jews – the language for worship.“ Hebrew, however, is Meiri-Brauer’s first mother tongue. „Then comes German. Meanwhile I am able to speak German better than I did then,“ the Viennese says. The songs of her childhood were sung in Hebrew, as well: „Jewish music was given to me in the cradle.“

Lullabies are one thing. Lullabies from the House of Brauer are another. With the singer Timna Brauer as her mother and pianist Elias Meiri as a father – and the painter and musician Arik Brauer (Köpferl im Sand) as a grandfather – Meiri-Brauer grew up in a world „surrounded by melodies and sounds,“ as she remembers today.

The Jewish scales sound like home to her. The songs that Meiri-Brauer will sing in Alpbach, belong to the family’s repertoire: they were sung while sitting together at the Shabbat table. Meiri-Brauer is not religious, however. The cultural heritage for her has more to do with tradition. „You sing these songs like others sing certain songs during Christmas. I am very comfortable with these pieces,“ says the artist, particularly during the first steps in her career she is currently taking, that is a good thing.
The Next Brauer-Generation

All pieces are sort of her favorite songs, explains the singer, who chose all the songs for the evening in Alpbach herself (although she adds that the song „Our Father, Our King“ is presented not because of its content – „the title alone is sexist“ – but because she likes the mood it creates so much).

Step into her parents’ footprints? She was never urged to do that. But the name Brauer is not a burden, either, „more of a gift.“ She does not want to peddle the name, but at the same time she does not want to jib at the connection either. Anyway: Jasmin Meiri-Brauer is her stagename; her civilian name is simply Jasmin Meiri.

Regardless, she does want to keep „a certain distance“ to her family’s artistic heritage, she says, after having performed together with her parents in the past – she now wants to go her own way and has not yet decided if she will remain fully rooted in Jewish music. Meiri-Brauer studied Jazz vocals and continues to educate herself in classical music: “I do not yet sit as firmly as my parents.“

And à propos heritage: Timna Brauer and Elias Meiri sort of left the stage at Alpbach to her. The musical pair has performed here in the past. The mother suggested the gig in the Tyrolean mountain village, and she likes it: „I think it is terribly beautiful here, I think it is beautiful to contribute something.“