This program is based on the 2000 album conceived and performed by Zalmen Mlotek together vocalist and teacher Adrienne Cooper. The songs themselves were passed down from hand to hand and committed to memory. Many were discovered in buried milk cans in the Warsaw and Vilna Ghettos.
The songs, which are representative of music theater repertoire written and adapted by Jewish composers, lyricists, actors, singers, street performers, and amateurs in the ghettos of Poland and Lithuania will surprise many listeners in their variety and depth. The musical forms reflect the diverse sources of popular music of the time and are rooted in Eastern European Jewish folk and liturgical music, but also influenced by opera and operetta, American ragtime and movie music, and tango. The themes range from satirical and elegiac, to political and personal, to angry and heartsick.