'The roadmap to world music from a Jewish slant'. We cover Klezmer and more, focusing on the edges and the sounds that express who we are now. We also provide the place for klezmorim, reputable musicians, fans, and scholars to network online.
Since the release of our Classical Melody Book, we've had many people ask in regards to Jewish sheet music on the iPhone/iPad, and we're happy to introduce this new app.
The Klezmer Melody Book comes with a free compilation of sheet music for over 100 Jewish Traditional, Religious, Klezmer, Sephardic/Ladino, Chasidic, Yiddish, Cantorial, Simcha Party and Israeli folk melodies/songs (we are constantly expanding our archive). The sheet music is reliable and clear, and provided by the well known Tara Publications (Jewishmusic.com).
We have a great melody search feature that allows a quick find for any forgotten Jewish melody you may have by playing the first 6 notes of the melody. You can also import and share sheet music via email or print as well as create personalized set lists for performance.
The Melody Book—We are a New York based start up software development company,
Our goal is to release music related applications that will enhance and support amateur and professional musicians in their creative work.
Registration is now open at the website for Yiddish Summer Weimar 2012 (July 21 - August 21). This summer's topic is "The bridges of Ashkenaz"—connections in song, instrumental music, dance and language between the Western European origins of Yiddish culture and its great flowering in Eastern Europe many centuries later. Whether you're a beginner, a pro, or somewhere in between, we invite you to join an incredible international community of artists, scholars and students from all walks of life. Check out the website for this year's exciting program of dance, music, song and more: www.yiddishsummer.eu
"Candles of Song," Yiddish poetry blog, now with audio
From Sheva Zucker:
CANDLES OF SONG
Yiddish Poems about Mothers
ייִדישע לידער וועגן מאַמעס willow
Dear People who are following my blog: Candles of Songs: Yiddish Poems about Mothers,
I'm pleased to tell you that audio is now available at the blog. You will be able to hear a reading of each of the poems in Yiddish (by me). You will find the recording at the very top left of each posting. The name of the poem in Yiddish is given in transliteration in blue letters followed by the word "audio". To access the audio just click on those words. I hope this will add to your enjoyment and appreciation of these poems.
Adapting a wonderfully expansive view of the concept "punk Jew" the film featured some wonderful montages, including Gay Pride events in Israel, and also included six more focused clips ranging from "Moshiach Oi," a one band that fits the more traditional hardcore definition of "punk," (but also making the connection to outliers as we realize that bandmembers are also enthusiastic follows of Reb Nahman of Breslov), to many of our friends playing at a fringe Jewish NYC gathering called "cholent," to a segment on child abuse in the Shver UltraOrthodox community in upstate New York. Other segments included Amy the Yoga Yenta, a segment featuring Y-Love and African-American Jews, and my favorite, a closing segment featuring Jenny Romaine's "Sukkos Mob," a wonderful troupe that takes to NYC's streets during Sukkos each year. If the Boston Jewish Music Festival folks are really on their toes (something I think we can take for a given), they'll find a way to bring the Sukkos Mob to Boston next year. Imagine Yiddish street theatre in Coolidge Corner or Harvard Square! (Of course, how this would happen given the mob's post-Sukkos commitments and the fact that they are pretty committed to being in NYC for the holiday, I dunno.)
The Q&A session revealed that much of the audience identified strongly with the film's themes—a surprising number of people are really Punk Jews, or have websites connecting Punks to mainstream Jews. We are all outliers. We are all, apparently, punks.
It's a very good film. Eventually it will be released and readers of this site should make a point of seeing it. You can find out more at punkjews.com.
Come to the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow this summer!
For several years now I've had the great privilege of teaching the Yiddish Song workshop at the festival in Krakow. We truly have a wonderful time, and you will make new friends from all over the world. Here's the description for this year:
22nd Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, 2012
Yiddish Song Workshop:
Answering the Big Questions Through Yiddish Songs
We all confront the big questions: What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? What shall we have for Shabbes lunch? And Yiddish songs attempt to answer these kinds of questions, too! Each year, a wonderful, international community comes together in Krakow to sing, dance, learn and have fun. All are welcome, with no previous experience necessary. Join us!
At last I've managed to upload a short demo of our silent film programme - you may have seen Merlin and myself accompanying these fantastic earliest cinematic representations of east European Jewish communities. Thought I could share...
Sara is a beautiful Jewish woman, granddaughter of the local rabbi who
is loved by two brothers, Itzik and Borukh. They are sons of a wealthy
Jew, Rabinovitch. They both love her deeply but she loves Itzik. Her
parents consent that she marries him. Borukh loves both Sara and his
brother and wishes them happiness in their family life, but he leaves
the shtetl. It would have been too hard for him to keep seeing Sara and
realising that she doesn’t belong to him.
Itzak and Sara are happy in their mutual love but God didn’t bless
them with children, which they desperately wanted. Ten years past since
their marriage but there are no children.
So Itzak’s parents and other Jewish shtetl authorities decide that
they have to divorce. For her grandfather the rabbi it is a shame that
his granddaughter is childless, it means that she doesn’t have God’s
blessing. The authorities insist on it but Itzak fights against their
opinion. Eventually he is too weak to struggle with everybody and agrees to sign the get (divorce certificate). The get has been ready for a
long time, so Itzak has simply to sign it and take it to Sara.
From that moment, they would be considered to be officially divorced, but the question is how to get this paper to the wife that he loves to
death. She wouldn’t agree to the divorce, but the Jews have a special
trick in this case; one can bring this paper to the wife using deceitful means. The most important thing is to have witnesses. As soon as she
takes hold of this fateful paper and the others witness it, she is
The authorities decide to use his trick. One of them dresses as a
pauper and whilst taking mitzveh geld (alms) from her, drops the
document. Sara picks it up and already whilst opening the document
realises that trick, too late!
She is in despair. She shares her grief with her husband but at the
same moment, the Jewish authorities announce that she has to leave her
husband’s house, and he is a stranger to her fro now on. This terrible
outcome affects the weak Itzak so much that he takes a rope and ties it
to a hook on the wall and ends his bitter existence.
Itzak was buried according to strict Jewish traditions. And Sara is
inconsolable. She moans and longs and yearns and after gets seriously
ill. Her father and mother invite a doctor to see their dear daughter.
The doctor having examined the patient announces categorically that she
is absolutely fine and is going to become a mother soon. So if Itzak had waited to define his destiny, they would both be happy.
My favorite Brooklyn rock band, the folks who put "transgression" into "shonde," have become much too good for niche labels. It's probably time to stop championing them as GLBT and to accept that they help fill a hole left by the breakup of Sleater-Kinney. Fine by me.
"Give Me What You've Got," is the second single off their September release, Searchlights (Exotic Fever Records, 2011). Directed by Emily Millay Haddad, the video premiered last month on Out.com!
When we established the Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture at the
University of Wisconsin-Madison, our hope was that our newly found
institutional support would ensure a bright future for the work that
Living Traditions has been doing for over two decades. While we
remain confident that this goal is attainable, making the transition
has been more challenging than expected. So now we need your help,
and that of all those whose lives have been touched by KlezKamp over
the years. Without your support, the future of this innovative and
life-changing folk arts program is in jeopardy.
As you know, these are extremely challenging times for many arts and
other nonprofit organizations. However, you may not be aware that
KlezKamp tuition has never fully covered the costs of running the
program. In order to make the event affordable, we have had to find
additional support amounting to approximately $100,000 annually to
cover the basic costs for the planning and organizing that continue
throughout the year.
With the move to the Mayrent Institute, our limited resources are
being strained more than ever. Although the University of Wisconisin
will eventually help cover most of our administrative costs, KlezKamp
and Living Traditions' programs need substantial support in this
transitional period. And because the endowment of the Institute has
not been completed, the financial foundation on which KlezKamp
currently rests is dangerously unstable.
How can you help?
Make a contribution to the newly established Adrienne Cooper
Memorial Fund, which honors our beloved colleague and friend by
providing support for the cultural work that was her passion. In
addition to supporting the general work of Living Traditions, this
fund will include a scholarship in Adrienne's name for a deserving
Yiddish singer to attend KlezKamp. Please see Donate by Check or
Credit Card, below:
Tell your friends and family about KlezKamp and urge them to
attend. We have always relied primarily on word of mouth. Now, more
than ever, we need participants to help us keep the program viable.
If you would like to contribute to the endowment for the Mayrent
Institute, please contact the Living Traditions office and we will
put you in touch with the UW Foundation to discuss your gift.
We are standing at an important crossroads for Yiddish culture. Won't
you join me in taking our first steps down the road to a secure
future for KlezKamp and all that it represents?
Mit a hartsikn dank,
Sherry Mayrent, President, Living Traditions Board of Directors
Associate Director, KlezKamp
DONATE BY CHECK: Please mail checks, payable to Living Traditions
Living Traditions Inc.
207 W. 25th St., 4th floor
New York, NY 10001.
In July of 2011, the Jewish media was abuzz with the news that JDub Records, the Jewish music label responsible for launching the careers of Matisyahu and Balkan Beat Box, was shutting down. Online forums were flooded with debates about what its failure meant for the future of New Jewish Culture. Was the Jewish philanthropic world abandoning New Jewish Culture?
On May 15, “Now What? The Future of New Jewish Culture” reignites the conversation. A unique town hall-style event, “Now What?” brings together ten experts of diverse backgrounds and experiences for a critical look at New Jewish Culture over the last ten years and the pressing issues it faces today, including changing attitudes towards American Jewish identity; waning support for quality Jewish art and culture; and strategies for cultivating Jewish art and culture in the future. This event is presented by the Posen Foundation U.S. through its new public programming initiative, Speakers’ Lab, and The Jewish Daily Forward. It is hosted by the 14th Street Y in downtown NYC.
After a decade of flourishing Jewish creativity, major Jewish cultural enterprises are being forced to scale back operations or close entirely. Using recent funding cuts as a springboard to examine the most pressing issues facing new Jewish arts and culture, “Now What?” addresses:
New perspectives on American Jewish identity
Waning support for quality Jewish art and culture
Strategies for cultivating Jewish art and culture in the future
Panelists include: Jody Rosen, music critic for Slate Magazine; Alana Newhouse, Editor-in-Chief for Tablet Magazine; Elise Bernhardt, President and CEO of the Foundation for Jewish Culture; Dan Friedman, Arts & Culture Editor at The Jewish Daily Forward; and Stephen Hazan Arnoff, Executive Director at the 14th Street Y and LABA: The National Laboratory for New Jewish Culture.
Admission to “Now What? The Future of New Jewish Culture” is free. Seating is limited and pre-registration encouraged. Sign-up at www.speakerslab.org or by calling 212-564-6711 x 305.
Event and Venue Info:
The Theater at the 14th Street Y
344 East 14th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenues)
New York, NY 10003
May 15, 2012 7pm
Very happy to announce that our klezmer-feminist-historical-magic realism audio drama, "The Witches of Lublin", has been nominated for three Audie Awards! Co-written by Ellen Kushner (of PRI's "Sound and Spirit"), Elizabeth Schwartz and Yale Strom, with music by Strom, "The Witches of Lublin" was directed by Sue Zizza and stars Tovah Feldshuh, plus featured actors Neil Gaiman, Simon Jones, Barbara Rosenblat, and beloved actors from the Yiddish stage like Yelena Shumlenson, Sam Guncler and Joanne Borts. The music was performed by Strom, Sprocket, Alexander Fedouriok, Peter Stan and Schwartz (and the companion CD, "The Devil's Brides" with narration by Miriam Margolyes, is released by Arc Music UK). For more info: www.TheWitchesOfLublin.com. And here's the press release from the Audies:
The Audiobook of the Year Award recognizes the audiobook that, through quality, innovation, marketing and sales, has had the most significant impact on the audio industry.
The four titles selected to compete for the 2012 Distinguished Achievement in Production Award are:
The Mark of Zorro, by Yuri Rasovsky, narrated by Val Kilmer and a full cast (Zorro Productions, Inc., and Blackstone Audio, Inc.)
She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems, selected, introduced and narrated by Caroline Kennedy and a full cast (Hyperion Audio)
The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic, by Allan Wolf, narrated by Michael Page, Phil Gigante, Christopher Lane, Laural Merlington and Angela Dawe (Candlewick on Brilliance Audio)
The Witches of Lublin, by Ellen Kushner, Elizabeth Schwartz and Yale Strom, narrated by Tovah Feldshuh, Neil Gaiman, Simon Jones, Barbara Rosenblat, Elizabeth Boskey, Joanne Borts, Yelena Shmulenson, Joyce Feurring, Tim Jerome and a full cast (SueMedia Productions)
Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival, May 20 - Jun 3, 2012
Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival announces its 2012 season: “Cultural Collaborations” May 20-June 3
This year the Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival celebrates multi-cultural strands of Jewish music, from the African American influences of gospel and jazz to an interfaith Sephardic song cycle.
featuring clarinetist David Krakauer with soprano Lara Bruckmann,
members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and guest artists
Sunday, May 20 7:30pm
Temple Emanuel of South Hills 1250 Bower Hill Rd.
Monday, May 21 7:30pm
Levy Hall, Rodef Shalom Congregation 4905 Fifth Ave.
Ayre – meaning "air" or "melody" in medieval Spanish – is an eclectic song cycle by Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov. Its multi-lingual texts intermingle three cultures (Christian, Arab and Jewish) as they co-existed in the late 15th-century. This “ecstatically beautiful piece” (New Yorker) blends elements like a Sephardic ballad, an Easter song, and a Sardinian protest song, into a theatrically moving work about religious harmony.
A diverse chamber ensemble features soprano Lara Bruckmann, members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and international clarinet superstar David Krakauer, returning for his third PJMF appearance. The program also includes “Der Heyser Bulgar” and Alexander Krein’s “Jewish Sketches” for clarinet and string quartet (with Krakauer) and a Sephardic work by Pittsburgh composer David Stock.
with Joshua Nelson
and the Kosher Gospel Singers Thursday, May 31 7:30pm Temple Sinai 5505 Forbes Ave.
For Joshua Nelson, kosher gospel is a way to claim both parts of his identity as a Black Jew. For his audiences, whatever their faith or heritage, kosher gospel has been a revelation. Now in his early thirties, Nelson has performed around the world, for Presidents, with Aretha Franklin and the Klezmatics, and for Oprah, who named him the “Next Big Thing.” Whatever the venue, Joshua Nelson, the Prince of Kosher Gospel, brings people—and cultures—together in joyous song. Joshua is joined by his Kosher Gospel Singers and band.
“Swinging and Singing”
with the Ortner Roberts Duo
Zohar Chamber Singers, and HaZamir Pittsburgh Sunday, June 3 7:30pm
Agnes and Joseph Katz Performing Arts Center
JCC of Greater Pittsburgh 5738 Darlington Rd.
Pittsburgh’s favorite klezmer and jazz duo Tom Roberts (piano) and Susanne Ortner (clarinet) make their overdue PJMF debut paying tribute to both African American and Jewish musical legends like Scott Joplin, Louis Armstrong , Cab Calloway, and George Gershwin, whose multi-cultural collaborations influenced each other and thus elevated the art of jazz. Joining them in this unique program will be Pittsburgh jazz legend Roger Humphreys on drums and multi-instrumentalist Vince Giordano, known for recreating vintage scores for Woody Allen films and HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.
Our showcase of local talent also features the AJL’s HaZamir Pittsburgh high school ensemble and Zohar Chamber Singers, under the direction of Nizan Leibovich, performing choral works from a variety of genres and traditions.
TICKETS for all events $20 general admission, $15 seniors, $10 students
MORE INFORMATION at www.pjmf.net TICKETS available at www.proartstickets.org
The Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival is co-sponsored by:
United Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, JCC of Greater Pittsburgh, Temple Emanuel of South Hills, Temple Sinai, Rodef Shalom Congregation, and the Agency for Jewish Learning.
The latest edition of my Kosher Jam show for UK Jazz Radio/Europe Jazz Radio – broadcast on 17th April and now on listen again – features a global roster of artists.
They include: French-Moroccan vocalist Laïka Fatien with her outstanding take on Stevie Wonder’s ‘Visions’; harmonica player Adam Glasser and music from his stirring South African township jazz CD; Brazilian vocalist Nicole Borger; Randy Newman performing one of his most poignant songs as re-recorded on a solo album; guitarist Steve Khan with a track from his Latin jazz album; Israeli jazz from flautist Ilan Salem and pianist Yitzhak Yedid; Yiddish world music singer-songwriter Lenka Lichtenberg; Toronto-based pianist Ron Davis with a Polish folk tune from his My Mother’s Father’s Song album inspired by his family history; and London-based band Just East, who are starring this month at the JazzAhead trade fair in Bremen, Germany.
Also featured: tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts improvising a Johnny Mandel/Dave Frishberg tune; alto saxophonist Libby Richman; vocalist Audrey Silver; tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger; bassist Josh Ginsberg; and with this year’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival about to get underway, a track from an 1955 album by its founder, pianist/vocalist George Wein.
There’s contemporary Jewish jazz from: clarinettist Ben Goldberg; the Masada Quintet with Joe Lovano interpreting John Zorn; The Sway Machinery; and Denmark-based saxophonist Marc Bernstein.
And the late klez-jazz clarinettist Sam Musiker with joyous wedding music, from Songs For The Jewish American Jet Set CD, a compilation of artists recorded by the Tivka label between 1950-1973.
Long-time Bay Area music fanatic Hester Lox died this past Saturday night about the time that many of us were sitting down to the second seder. She had been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer just a few weeks earlier and had volunteered at the Bay Area’s Jewish Music Festival (as usual) the night before she was hospitalized for her illness.
I left the Bay Area over 15 years ago, but I still have vivid memories of Hester cracking jokes and making puns (often deliciously bawdy jokes and puns) as we worked putting on shows, or just enjoyed listening to music together. It was with Hester, for instance, that I first encountered one of my favorite bands at their height—Brave Old World, nor was it a surprise that she had been an old friend of the group’s bassist/tsimbl player, Stu Brotman—one of many friends that I met through her and continue to cherish knowing.
What fewer people knew was that she also regularly played accordion (at least while I knew her) with Balkan music groups. She liked klezmer, but balkan music was probably the greater passion. It was through her that my own love of Balkan music was rekindled as she dragged me off (not entirely unwillingly) to local Balkan dance nights, showed me patiently how to work out the steps dancing behind the line, and then, herself, joined in with the best and most exuberant dancers.
In her not-so-spare time, Hester consulted as a professional organizer—the person who helps create order where previously there was none. In my case, she helped me located five years of missing tax receipts, get them entered into a computer, and enabled me to move into the adult world of people who are not having the IRS threaten to garnish their paychecks for imaginary amounts owed from taxes not filed oh so many years past. It is appropriate, then, to present this YouTube video of her discussing this particular professional endeavor:
Since leaving the Bay Area I have had few opportunities to return, and far too little time to catch up with old friends when I am there. I always assumed that Hester would be there, ready for dim sum on a Sunday morning, as soon as I got the chance.
I hate getting moralistic, or using the passing of friends to score political points, but Hester died way too early. She was middle-aged, like me. She was also under-employed and had no health insurance. Our failure to ensure that all residents of this country have access to health care—including the regular check-ups that might have ensured that this was caught early when it was curable—has once again killed a friend. It is time for Americans to stop pretending that it is civilized to turn health care into a lottery, and instead to ensure that it is a right.
But, having said that, I miss Hester. There is no amelioration.To those who were fortunate enough to know her, I say, cherish the memory of her stories about her night on Alcatraz, or of Balkan camp, and of adventures, musical and/or outlandish, all. She had a very hard and abusive upbringing. But, as an adult, she lived and brought life to everything and everyone. She tried to make the world a better, even a perfect place. There are other storytellers, other volunteers, but none like her.
From Lev Liberman:
She was a sweet, generous person who, it seemed, knew everybody in the West Coast Balkan and klezmer scenes. A tireless dancer, fan, and musical insider, Hester had the gift of turning a simple gig into an event. Over the many decades of our friendship, I got to see her wild persona (that biting wit, that omni-sexy vibe) as well as her vulnerable side (her struggles with work and life, her intense loyalty to friends). I can hear her voice, her laugh. Foxy Loxy will be missed.
There will be a memorial in Berkeley on May 20. Please email me for details.