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April 27, 2003


The other week, or the other month, when I was complaining about the lack of Jewish weblogs, I was only partially correct. There doesn't seem to be anyone other than the Klezmershack writing about Jewish music online, regularly. I link to every article I can find that might be of interest to klezmershack readers, but there aren't a lot.

But where the KlezmerShack is always torn between wanting to write about interesting and new music, and wanting to spread the word specifically about interesting and new Jewish culture, there seem to be a host of weblogs out there that have lots of attitude, interesting things to say, but almost nothing to say about Klezmer or Radical Jewish Culture as I understand them, or that reworking of Jewish culture that marks a change in what being Jewish means. Here's a fascinating sample - JewSchool.

For interesting surface froth about Jewish attitudes - occasional bits about antisemitism, the obligatory putdown of Madonna's "kabala" phase, a link to Afro-Jewish garb - it looks, well, kinda nifty. And it has a good calendar of events - not a lot of events, but ones that look worth attending. Lotsa links. Just a weblog that kvetches. Well, that's Jewish, I guess.


KlezCalifornia--early bird reg. discount ends May 1

KlezCalifornia, San Francisco, CA Jun 22-26

Celebrating Yiddish Culture & Klezmer Music is a 5 day immersion program in klezmer music, yiddish language, and folk arts.It is being presented in Association with the Jewish Music Festival.

Cost ranges from $160: children to $390: adults. $50 discount for early adult registration before May 1st. Register ASAP as spaces are limited.

For further information: www.klezcalifornia.org, julieegger@attbi.com or 415-789-7679.

KlezCalifornia takes place at the Jewish Community High School of the Bay: 1835 Ellis St. SF between Pierce & Scott

The dates are: Sunday -Friday June 22-27, 2003
The Time: 9:00 am -6:00 pm & Evening Programs

The program will include classes in Klezmer Music,( all levels) Chorus,Yiddish Language, Dance, Visual Arts such as paper cutting & Jewish Culture. A full children's program and special evening events & concerts will also be held.

Teachers include members of world-acclaimed klezmer groups such as Brave Old World, The Klezmatics, Klezmer Conservatory band and Mikva.

Co-sponsors are the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center, and the Yiddishkeit Festival. For Registration & Information: (415) 789-7679, www.klezCalifornia.org or info@klezcalifornia.org. Mailing Address: P.O. Box 36 Lagunitas, CA 94938

Cost ranges from $160: children to $390: adults. $50 discount for early adult registration before May 1st. Register ASAP as spaces are limited.

For further information: www.klezcalifornia.org, julieegger@attbi.com or 415-789-7679.

New Flying Bulgars; Album Release May 10,11

Flying Bulgars publicity shot w/instruments
There are a very few new Jewish music bands: Brave Old World, say, or the Klezmatics, who consistently push the envelope and take my breath away like the Flying Bulgars. I have arranged work schedules so that I can stop off in Toronto to see them perform. It is therefore with great excitement that I present the following:

The Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band
presents a CD Release Celebration Concert for their new recording,
Sweet Return
Saturday, May 10, 8:30pm; Sunday, May 11, 2pm
Hugh's Room, 2261 Dundas St W, Toronto
Tickets: Sat. $15/Sun. $12 BOX OFFICE: 416-531-6604

The Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band, Canada s coolest contribution to slammin Semitic sounds, is proud to announce a CD Release Concert in celebration of their fifth release entitled Sweet Return, the band s most diverse recording to date. The Flying Bulgars with special guest Jane Bunnett and others will perform on Saturday, May 10 at 8:30pm and at a special Mother's Day bruch & concert on Sunday May 11 at 2pm at Hugh s Room.

"Sweet Return" is thirteen tracks of some of the most unique music the Bulgars have ever produced, dancing between Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Lower East Side and Downtown Toronto. For the first time ever, each band member has composed at least one tune for the project, which features special guest, the great Grammy-nominated saxophonist, Jane Bunnett. (In May of 2002 the Flying Bulgars performed Shekhine-Spirit in the Natural World before a sold-out crowd at Toronto s Isabel Bader Theatre. This inspiring and wonderful evening-length concert featured guest artists Jane Bunnett and Alex Poch-Goldin and was the genesis and initial seeding for Sweet Return.)

Rooted in Toronto, the Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band brings together the remarkable talents of six great musicians. FBKB leader and trumpeter David Buchbinder has been deeply involved with New Jewish music since forming the FBKB over fifteen years ago (their very first gig was February 1, 1988 at Clinton s). The other members are Daniel Barnes drums and percussion, Andrew Downing double bass and bass clarinet, Robert Stevenson clarinet and bass clarinet, Marilyn Lerner piano and accordion and Dave Wall vocals and alto saxophone.

Joining the band and Jane will be guest musicians Levon Ichkanian (electric guitar & oud), Rick Shadrach Lazar (percussion) and Stephen Donald (trombone) three of Toronto s hottest world musicians.

Saturday May 10 at 8:30pm and Sunday May 11 at 2pm , Hugh s Room, 2261 Dundas St W, Toronto, Canada
Tickets: Sat. $15/Sun. $12 BOX OFFICE: 416-531-6604

Max and Minka accordion duo release

absolutely amazing album coverJeanette Lewicki is better known to many of us as the accordion and voice of San Francisco's anarcho-klezmer street trio, "The Gonifs," or from her work with the San Francsico Klezmer Experience. Now, paired with Matthew Fass as "Max and Minka" the duo have produced one of the loveliest klezmer/accordion/everything music CDs to have arrived in recent years. The first half of the CD consists of (mostly) Yiddish songs and klezmer. The second half, though, is an enormously inventive, wonderful "patchwork suite."

The cover is an amazing print of rather delightful artwork. Open up the CD and see the accordion fold connecting the duo. The lyrics are printed (albeit at leading that is a trifle tight) in a prime unreadable Yiddish typeface nicely matched to English.

This is the sort of CD that you purchase because it is a work of art, and then you discover that there is some great music on it, as well!

www.maxminka.com, while they last.

For the complete review, see www.klezmershack.com/bands/maxminka/one/maxminka.one.html

April 14, 2003

Wu-Tang Clan to tour Israel

Bookmarklets | MOVABLE TYPE

I got a comment from Adam Holzband, in Austin Texas (home of the Austin Klezmorim and Rubinchik's Yiddish Ensemble, btw) mentioning that Jewish stuff occasionally "peeks through" on his weblog. Took a quick look and discovered that hip hop group, Wu-Tang, will be touring Israel soon. It doesn't strike me quite the same way it did when Memphis Slim showed up 30 years ago, but it sounds about right for this moment in time, as it goes.

Sometime, if there is ever a time to talk about things that never happened, I'll have to write about my attempts to get a friend, Bruce, who had been living with the Bedouin in the Sinai off and on for a while, to get them to smuggle us both to Egypt to hear the Grateful Dead at the pyramids. I'm still not sure if Bruce's demurral is one of the reasons I'm here today, or if I missed out on an incredible story. Or both.

And, thanks for the comment, Adam.

April 13, 2003

Jewish Music Conference at Yale, Apr 12-13

New Haven, Conn. Yale University will host a conference on April 12 and 13, celebrating the acquisition of a major collection of Jewish music by the University.

The Wallersteiner Collection of Jewish Music includes about 700 pieces of sheet music of popular, liturgical and theater songs and hymns from Germany, the United States, Israel and elsewhere from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The collection was acquired by the Irving S. Gilmore Music Library at Yale.

For further information check the conference web site at www.library.yale.edu/judaica/music/index.html or contact Nanette Stahl, conference director, at nanette.stahl@yale.edu or phone number (203)432-7207.

The acquisition of the collection has transformed Yale's Music Library into a significant resource for scholarship in Jewish music. Says Kendall Crilly, Andrew W. Mellon Music Librarian, "We are absolutely delighted that we had the opportunity to acquire the Wallersteiner Collection. The collection has enabled us to add research materials of interest and depth in a subject area that until recently had not been one of our traditional collecting strengths, and it has served as the impetus for additional acquisitions in the field of Jewish music. The upcoming conference presents a wonderful opportunity to consider the many aspects of Jewish music, and to hear for the first time some of the selections included in the Wallersteiner Collection."

The conference will open with a concert at 8:30 p.m. on April 12 by the renowned klezmer music band, Brave Old World, which plays both traditional and provocative new Yiddish songs on subjects like Chernobyl and the fall of the Berlin Wall. The concert will take place at the Trinity Lutheran Church, 292 Orange St. (corner of Wall Street) and is free and open to the public.

The band brings together four pioneering virtuosi of the klezmer scene. Vocalist and violinist Michael Alpert, renowned for his native Yiddish and soulful lyricism, is "the only klezmer artist writing Yiddish songs on contemporary topics," according to Newsday. Musical Director Alan Bern, Christian Dawid on the clarinet, and Stuart Brotman on bass, percussion and cimbalom complete the ensemble.

The conference will continue on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. at the Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall St., with a session titled "Jewish Theater Music." Mark Slobin of Wesleyan University will speak on early JewishAmerican popular songs; Hankus Netsky of the New England Conservatory will discuss Philadelphia’s Jewish musicians; and Rachel Bergman of Yale will speak on the composer Viktor Ullmann, who wrote "The Kaiser from Atlantis" while interned in a Nazi concentration camp.

The next session, at 12:30 p.m., focuses on sacred music. Jeffrey Summit of Tufts University will discuss the music of the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda. Mark Kligman of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion will address Sephardic liturgy and Judit Frigyesi of Bar Ilan University in Israel will discuss East European liturgical music.

This session will be followed by a concert of music from the Wallersteiner Collection, performed by students from the Yale Music Department, 2:30-3:30 p.m.

The last session, "Community and Celebration," will begin at 3:30 p.m. with a presentation titled "Bringing the Bride to Tears," by Craig Harwood of Yale. Kay Kaufman Shelemay of Harvard will speak on "Jewish Communities through Music" and Edwin Seroussi of the Hebrew University in Israel will discuss "The Modern Odyssey of the Judeo-Spanish Song."

The conference will close with a concert performed by the chamber music quartet, Antares, of music by Yale composers, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale, 80 Wall St. This and all events related to the conference are free and open to the public and no prior registration is necessary. "Celebrating Jewish Music at Yale" is sponsored by the Yale University Library, the Program of Jewish Studies, the Whitney Humanities Center, the Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale and the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation.

For further information check the conference web site at www.library.yale.edu/judaica/music/index.html or contact Nanette Stahl, conference director, at nanette.stahl@yale.edu or phone number (203)432-7207.

April 11, 2003

TRANCE: An Art Installation (Opens April 30)

presents a site-specific multimedia installation

Pearl Gluck and Basya Schechter

April 30 - July 30 2003

live performance and reception
exhibition graphic

12 Eldridge Street, (between Canal and Division)

Using fragments of lived experience from the landmark Eldridge Street Synagogue and its surrounding historic neighborhood, Trance is a sound and video installation that breaks boundaries and sparks cross cultural dialogue between the Asian and Jewish communities on the Lower East Side.

the Artists:

Pearl Gluck is a filmmaker. Her feature documentary, Divan, premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival in May, 2003. Contact: www.divan-thecouch.com

Basya Schechter is a musician. She founded Pharaoh's Daughter. Her work includes Exile (2003) and Out of the Reeds (2001). www.Pharaohsdaughter.com [DON'T MISS: Pharaoh's Daughter at Joe's Pub April 20th)

Eldridge Street Project

Completed in 1887, Eldridge Street was the first great house of worship built in the United States by Eastern European Jews. The landmark structure symbolizes the experience of countless newcomers to America who have grappled with the tension between cultural continuity and change. The not-for-profit Eldridge Street Project was established in 1986 to restore the Synagogue, now a National Historic Landmark, to its original grandeur, without destroying the poignant reminders of its founders' century-long presence; and to interpret the site with arts and education programs that breathe fresh life into the building.

April 10, 2003

Lots of Jewish music around Passover

The KlezmerCalendar, which has long spilled over and beyond Klezmer music has listings for an incredible variety of music around the world happening before and after the forthcoming Passover holiday. Events range from the New England Conservatory's Jewish Music Ensemble, playing tonight in Boston, to a conference on Jewish Music at Yale this weekend, to a klezmer in Geneva Switzerland and a lively Sephardic Mimouna celebration in Connecticut to end the Passover season. Do check out the calendar, www.klezmershack.com/klezcalendar.html for details on these events, and for the growing plethora of Jewish music events listed from around the world, all year long. Stay tuned, too. Sometime in the next few months we're hoping to introduce a new calendar that will make it easier to find and to be informed about specific types of events in specific locations.

April 7, 2003

Yiddish Radio Project wins the Peabody Award

Yiddish Radio Project posterI first heard this on NPR, but Dan Peck was kind enough to post details to the Jewish-music mailing list. It is a wonderful series, and I am very excited that it won this recognition. There are some interesting ironies that I'll get to after the announcement:

"The Yiddish Radio Project, the 10 part series on the history of Yiddish broadcasting has won this years coveted Peabody prize. The Peabody Award for Excellence in Electronic Media is considered the most selective and prestigious award in broadcast journalism. The Yiddish Radio series was produced by Dave Isay and Henry Sapoznik.

"From the press release issued by the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication which awards the prize:

"....A National Public Radio program special, "The Yiddish Radio Project," an exuberant celebration of memory, history, and nostalgia from Sound Portrait Productions provided the Peabody Board with some of its most enjoyable listening...."

"This is the first time in its 62 year history that a Peabody award has gone to a Yiddish program."

You can find out more at www.yiddishradioproject.org

What makes this especially sweet, is that while the series was running, NPR was getting an incredible amount of flack about presenting a "Zionist" series, as part of its propaganda on part of Israel!!!!

There are two items that make such ignorant hate-mongering so noteworthy. First, as most people know, there was a huge, nasty cultural war among the early Zionist settlers in Israel during the early 1900s of Yiddish vs. Hebrew, and Hebrew won. Yiddish was vanquished, to the point where people changed their names from their "oppressed" Yiddish names to bold Hebrew ones, and Yiddish language and culture were virtually banned from the Yishuv (Jewish settlement). So, associating Yiddish with Zionism is a bit like associating Communism with Confucionism (sp?) or some such. Truly, it is ignorance, exemplified

But, second, the American Jewish community, in its rush to become "American" abandoned Yiddish culture as quickly as it could. So, in a sense, reclaiming Yiddish (granted, for most Jews this does not mean abandoning the warm feelings for Israel that are very much a part of post-Holocaust world Jewish life, but which were not part of most socialist Jewish culture) symbolizes a rejection of '50s American Jewish culture, and symbolizes both a reclaiming of all of what "Jewish" meant for the majority of American Jews whose ancestors came from Eastern Europe, including the explicitly socialist culture that involved the majority (but far from all) of the intellectuals of that community. In a funny sense, there was a second cultural battle: For those Jews who had already left traditional Judaism, "Jewish" was symbolized by socialist culture as encapsulated in Yiddish, and this battled "Jewish" as symbolized by English, with polite synagogue attendance two or three times a year replacing an active living or wrestling with what "Jewish" meant.

For the small, but successful minority of American Jews who gave Modern Orthodoxy its impetus, losing Yiddish speaking meant, simply, losing Yiddish. Most of what we would call "Yiddishkeit" remained, and Jewish identity remained tied to halachic (tied to Jewish law) Judaism.

Conversely, for that smaller, and perhaps not so culturally successful minority of Jews who stayed secular and socialist, the Arbeiter Rings were also there.

But in all cases, American Yiddish culture of the early 1900s still comes out associated with something frequently anti-Zionist--these are the Jews who came to America, not to Palestine. Which leaves us with the conclusion that there is a lot of general, extremely ignorant antisemitism parading as "anti-Zionism" out there. Since, I myself am not a Zionist, this is quite painful. But at times like this, I'd rather be mistaken for a Zionist--and at least identified with my people and their survival--than mistaken for an antisemitic ignoramous. Ignorance is a tool of reaction and repression even more powerful than the world's tyrants.

And while running off at the pen, I forgot my original 2nd point--which is that NPR is perceived by most American Jews (not me, as it happens) as "anti-Israel". So, to be accused of being "pro-Israel" for running this series highlights the sad fact that there is no limit to how profound ignorance can be. While American Jews look at NPR's stories on Israel and many have issues, the antisemites see an affirmation of a Jewish culture and see "Zionism". Oh, right, that was the point I was making last paragraph. Here I'll just be explicit: "Being anti-Israel is absolutely not a progressive stand." (Neither, for the record, is being "anti-Palestinian" a progressive stand. If you are for peace, and for self-determination, then you are stuck in the very messy, and very small camp of people who recognize that peace works only when both sides can find the "pro-peace" in each other. Finding peace means eschewing demonization and hate.)

Anyway, enough of that. This article started off in joy, noting the Yiddish Radio Project's Peabody Award. And that is a good thing, and something to celebrate!

You can find out more at www.yiddishradioproject.org

Websites on Jewish Liturgical Music

An exchange between Joel Bresler and Sam Weiss on the Jewish-Music list last summer elicited some excellent items about Jewish Liturgical music:

First, Joel posted the following link to a site with a good, articles on Jewish liturgy and liturgical music: www.liturgica.com/html/litJLit.jsp?hostname=liturgica

I found that I had to search on "Jewish Liturgy" to find the wealth of articles on the site--I didn't find a table of contents. But there are some very interesting-looking articles, for sure.

Sam Weiss, responded to Joel's post, noting: ... The article by Eliyahu Schleiffer [in three parts on this site. ari] is an excellent "thumbnail course" on Jewish liturgical music.... I'd like to return the favor by pointing out the following wonderful website on cantors of Alsace-Lorraine, with some great sound files: www.sdv.fr/judaisme/histoire/rabbins/hazanim/index.htm

Reviews of Sephardic Passover CDs, George Robinson

Here is the latest CD roundup by George Robinson:


It may help alleviate the surprising lack of comments to my request for "favorite Passover CDs".

Italian Jewish musical traditions, article

book coverWe were distracted last summer and almost missed this wonderful article about Italian Jewish Musical traditons, by Ruth Gruber (whose most recent book is the rather amazing "Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe"). In particular, she highlights work done by Francesco Spagnolo, one of my favorite Italians, who seems to be single-handedly responsible for growing awareness in the field:

Centuries-old liturgical tradition comes alive on CD of Jewish tunes.

April 5, 2003

Klezmer on the Air: Germany Apr5,

Here are two upcoming klezmer concerts that will be broadcast this weekend, one in Germany, one in Boston, MA:

The German broadcast, of the Joel Rubin Klezmer Music Ensemble, will be on Germany Public Radio SWR2 (cable frequency 107,85) at 8:05pm, Saturday, Apr 5

In Boston, Michael Winograd and his band will perform ~9:30a.m., Apr 6, WERS, 88.9 FM.

Germany, Apr 5

For those of you who will be in earshot, there will be a broadcast of the Joel Rubin Jewish Music Ensemble on this Saturday (April 5, 2003) on German Public Radio SWR2 (cable frequency 107,85) at 8:05 pm. The concert was recorded in the Frankfurter Hof in Mainz, Germany on November 6, 2001.

Joel Rubin, clarinet
Kalman Balogh, cimbalom
Claudio Jacomucci, accordion
Ferenc Kovacs, trumpet
Laszlo Major, first violin
Sandor Budai, second violin
Csaba Novak, bass

Further information at www.rubin-ottens.com

Boston, MA, USA, Apr 6

Michael Winograd writes: "I would like to invite all of you in the Boston area to tune in to WERS, 88.9 FM, this coming sunday morning (april 6'th) at 9:30 or so to hear some live klezmer and yiddish music. The group features violin, clarinet, piano, bass, drums and voice and will hopefully have a good band name by the time of the broadcast.... Be well."

April 3, 2003

Folklore and Dance tour of Romania, Jun 20 - 30, 2003


The tour will include 11 days of visits to local villages and folk dancers, ethnographic museums, dance performances, castles, folk restaurants, dance instruction and lots of sightseeing, arranged with the assistance of Marin Barbu.

The tour will consist of a clockwise loop from Bucharest, west thru Muntenia and Oltenia, north across the Southern Carpathian Mountains into Transylvania, east into the Middle Carpathian Mountains and returning south to Bucharest. Theodor Vasilescu will personally be giving dance instruction, and during the tour of Bucharest, participants will visit Theodor and Lia’s family home.

The price for all land activities and arrangements within Romania, including all meals, travel, hotel rooms, etc. will depend on the final number of tour participants. If there are 20 people, the price will be US$1150 per person. With 30, it will be US$1050, and with 40, US $950. For air travel, a group rate from Newark and/or JFK is being worked out, leaving via Lufthansa on the evening of Thursday, June 19th, 2003, for Frankfurt, Germany. A connecting flight will then take us to Bucharest on the afternoon of Friday, June 20th. The return is scheduled for July 1 or 2.

To receive a detailed trip description and application form, contact:

Ping Chun
49 Junard Drive
Morristown, NJ 07960
phone/fax: 973-539-7020

E. Euro Ashkenazi Nusach online

Irwin Oppenheim writes to the Jewish-music mailing list:

I've just become aware of an amazing project by Josh Sharfman.

He has recorded an Eastern European Ashkenazi nusach of more or less the whole year and made it available on his website in no less than 725 MP3 tracks!

This is the url: www.virtualcantor.com.

Argentinian Yiddish Choir on the Web: Spanish, English

We'd like to invite you to visit the new English version of the site of the Popular Jewish Choir "Mordje Guebirtig"

The Choir was created in 1995 in Buenos Aires, Argentina and it's integrated for 175 singers between women and men.

Inside the site you can find the complete Choir history, songs, pictures and many others interesting things.

Well, we'll very pleased with your visit in elcoro.com.ar