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Catherine Wojtanowski

(b Samakand, Tajikstan [Uzbekistan], Dec 28, 1920). Bukharan Jewish singer. From an early age, she immersed herself in Bukharan Jewish traditions, first under the influence of her father, a cantor, who died when she was six. Her original surname was changed to Kuinova in an attempt to avoid anti-Semitic persecution by the Soviet government. She began vocal lessons at the age of 14, performing first in her school choir and on Soviet radio. Renowned for her expertise in traditional music, she toured the Soviet Union widely, performed for foreign dignitaries and at state functions, and earned the award of Honored Artist of the Soviet Union. Kuinova also became an expert in shashmaqam, a traditional music of Central Asia which features texts that date from 15th century. In 1980, she immigrated to the United States, settling in Queens, New York, becoming an active member of the Bukharan Jewish musical community, and participating in the Soviet Jewish Community Cultural Initiative. She has performed in a variety of settings, often supported by two or three instrumentalists. In ...

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Richard Wigmore

(b Rochovot, Israel, Jan 14, 1960). South African bass-baritone of Israeli birth. The son of an Israeli father and an English mother, he emigrated to South Africa with his family in 1966. After studying singing at the RNCM in Manchester and at the University of Toronto, Saks made his professional début in 1982, in the title role in The Mikado at Stratford, Ontario. He learnt his operatic craft in Germany, singing with the Gelsenkirchen Opera from 1985 to 1988 and the Bielefeld Opera from 1988 to 1991. From 1992 to 1994 he was principal bass-baritone with Scottish Opera. Although he was admired in roles such as Leporello, this period was marred by clashes with the management over the company’s style of productions. He made his Covent Garden début, as Mr Flint in Billy Budd, in 1995 and the following year sang his first major Wagner role, Daland (...