Guy Mendilow Ensemble | Philadelphia Girls Choir Collaboration 04.19 / by Chris Baum

Jointly created by Guy Mendilow and Nathan Wadley, with additional composition by Chris Baum, Three Sides to Every Story features the Philadelphia Girls Choir and the Guy Mendilow Ensemble in a semi-theatrical collection of vignettes of struggle, redemption and celebration. We are especially interested in the pulls and tugs of irony, the tensions in stories that should be utterly dark and yet somehow contain bold hope, or moments of peaceful, picturesque beauty with an underlying despair running just skin-deep. From epic to stark to irreverently funny, Three Sides to Every Story explores the ways that contradictions come together to flesh out a story in greater depth and humanity.

Embark on a musical trek from bustling Mediterranean ports and resplendent Balkan capitals to communities shattered in the second world war and all but forgotten. Follow stories of orphan poets, vagabond queens and sailors lost to the sea, all set to spellbinding arrangements worthy of symphonic film scores. Wrap these tales up with lush choral harmonies and soulful vocals evoking Flamenco’s gutsiness set to heart-pounding percussion and intricate soundscapes.

Journey through the Balkans to the Mid-East beginning in Sarajevo and winding through war-torn Salonica. Three Sides to Every Story is a sonic adventure masterfully brought to life by the Guy Mendilow Ensemble, an award-winning quintet of world class musicians from Israel, Palestine, Argentina, and the USA and the Philadelphia Girls’ Choir, quickly establishing itself as one of the foremost American girls’ choirs for the purity and warmth of its sound. In a richly textured experience of haunting beauty, audiences are challenged with ironies and contradictions. What does it mean to feel the hope and wonder of childhood, to play games — in the midst of Auschwitz? To be struck by postcard-perfect countrysides even as the ghosts of a not-too-distant nightmare history can be just barely seen? In a semi-theatrical performance ranging from epic to irreverent, narration and music weave seamlessly to stir images of struggle, of light in the darkest hours, and, ultimately, riotous celebration, reminding us that, indeed, there are at least three sides to every story.

To commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II, this concert includes new arrangements of pieces written both during and about Jewish wartime experiences, including seldom heard Ladino songs giving voice to experiences historically left out of World War II conversations.

Three Sides To Every Story premieres April 19th at 4PM at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, PA.