Boston Jewish Music Festival co-founder Joey Baron has a lot to say about the dismal state of funding for Jewish culture on this morning's eJewish Philanthrophy blog. Makes a lot of good points. Time to respond and make sure he is heard:
Would the Last Jewish Artist Please Shut Out The Lights?, by Joey Baron, posted on eJewish Philanthropy blog Sep 12, 2013
If Jewish community institutions continue to offer only second-rate klezmer bands and clichéd cantorial concerts as their cultural attractions, we may as well put a sign on the door saying the culturally Jewish are not welcome here…. [more]
From Eva Broman on the Jewish-Music list:
I just found this recording of some classic selichot that I'd like to pass on. They are sung by "Ha-project shel Revivo", a trio of young Yemenite singers that is very popular in Israel (and 230.000 hits for traditional religious songs is pretty good!):
And here is an article about the group: 'Revivo's Project' brings Mizrahi pop back to its Arab roots, by Ophir Toubul, March 11, 2013, 972Magazine
A highlight of the 2013 Boston Jewish Music Festival was a concert which featured violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman and Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot, backed by the Klezmer Conservatory Band and members of Boston Musica Viva.
Concert Review: Eternal Echoes: Songs and Dances for the Soul, by Dobe (Dena) Ressler
When's the last time you saw people dancing in the aisles at Symphony Hall? It doesn't happen often, but when Hankus Netsky directs a concert, even the improbable can happen. [more]
Canadian writer Richard Simas travels to Brazil for Kleztival, Brazil's Great Jewish Music Event, 2012, written November 2012. Participants came from Brazil, Latin America, North America, and Europe.
Mix traditional Eastern European Klezmer tunes such as bulgars, freylaks, horas, and nigunim with strains of samba, salsa, and tango, and you have Jewish music, South American style. Add Berber sounds from the deserts, new-jazz inflected original compositions from Israel and Brooklyn, a cumbia style dance-band, and Brazilian choirs and you are hearing Kleztival 2012, São Paulo's third annual Klezmer music event. [more]
One of the most rewarding productions I have seen this year was the live music score written to accompany an early silent film, The Yellow Star. Written by violin maestro (maestra?) Alicia Svigals, and performed by her along with the equally amazing pianist, Marilyn Lerner, was incredible. The movie? Okay, it is easy to see how it got lost between the cracks. But the combination of violin, piano, and human voice that accompany the movie change the experience from viewing a static cultural document with curious history (essentially, an anti-Russian propoganda film created by Germans during WWI), to something far more alive and exciting—a iece that one hopes will remain in the active performance repertoire.
The piece is especially poignant as the National Foundation for Jewish Culture seems to have gotten out of the Jewish culture business and is instead focused on Israeli culture (not remotely the same thing, despite the obvious intersections). Feh.
In the meantime, folks in Philadelphia have done what I did not do when the piece was presented here in Boston earlier this year: they have reviewed the piece. So, let me provide a link to their audio podcast for your elucidation and pleasure:
The Yellow Ticket: An Early Record of 20th-Century Anti-Semitism, By David Patrick Stearns, May 12, 2013
"The 2013 Philadelphia Jewish Music Festival concluded with a curious 1918 silent film, The Yellow Ticket, presented at the Gershman Y in Center City, with live musical accompaniment that gave the often-grainy images a new life and renewed meaning. One of the first films about anti-Semitism, The Yellow Ticket reminded The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns just how much the world has changed - and how much it has yet to change." [listen to the complete audio]
It's official, the grand Philadelphia outreach klezmer jam/open mic/cabaret/community dance project is finally, officially, a non-profit. For now, that means that they need people to show up and participate—easy to do. Sessions occur on the 1st Sunday of each month (although this month's was deferred due to Labor Day).
Celebrate first Sundays with your family, friends and neighbors.
1:00-3:00pm, Main Line Reform Temple, 410 Montgomery Avenue, Wynnewood, PA 19096
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Enjoy Light refreshments along with fabulous klezmer, dancing and schmoozing
You can find out more at the group's home page which also contains a link to download sheet music (and get directions to the Main Line Reform Temple). You are also encouraged to "like" them on Facebook.
Hot on the heels of Jewlia Eisenberg's "Bowls Project," which delved into ancient Jewish amulets, and their own, ground-breaking "Klezmer Shul," the Veretski Pass crew are hard at work at an even farther out project, "Lillith the Night Demon." From the project website:
Lilith is the "alternate" Jewish story of creation, its earliest appearance being from the Babylonian Talmud, with references from Mesopotamia and the Dead Sea Scrolls. The work is to be created in collaboration with the San Francisco Choral Artists (SFCA). The composition uses the structural elements of the Kamea, (Heb. "amulet"), ritual objects wherein charms against Lilith abound. The work highlights some of the lesser-known facets of Jewish mysticism and superstition and integrates them into a new composition that uses traditional gestures of East European Jewish music as well as modern compositional and improvisatory elements.
The piece is currently scheduled to premiere in May 2014; possibly being previewed in some form at the Jewish Music Festival in Berkeley, March 2014. Stay tuned!
Have I mentioned this yet? So rare that one of Boston's jazz clubs notices klezmer, and here are the two most-frequently-performing local bands in one go. I'm very excited. It's on our calendar. On yours, yet?
"I would like to let you know about a big event that we are putting on next month. Ezekiel's Wheels is releasing their new album, Transported, and Klezwoods will be opening the program up for them @ The Regattabar on September 24th. They are making it the 1st Annual Regattabar Klezmer Music Festival!
We are doing a big push for this show as it's a particularly special event. This could be a good opportunity to bring in bigger acts in the future as well if this festival goes over well in its first year and would be huge for the Klezmer music community here in Boston. Here are all the exact details.
The Regattabar 1st Annual Klezmer Music Festival
September 24th, 2013
1 Bennett St., Cambridge, MA
Featuring Ezekiel's Wheels CD Release of Transported and Klezwoods
Now, this is exciting:
Festival of New Yiddish Song!
Monday, September 9, 7:00PM
Center for Jewish History
15 West 16th Street
Tickets $15, $10 for CTMD/CJH/YIVO members—to purchase go to www.smarttix.com
A special concert celebrating the work of leading musicians and composers who are at the vanguard of developing a new canon of Yiddish song. Working through a transnational artistic network, these individuals are creating new music that is both rooted in tradition yet endowed with a contemporary expressive vision. This program features the North American debut of the extraordinary Berlin-based singer Sveta Kundish, who has been taking the European Yiddish world by storm, and new compositions by artists such as Patrick Farrell, Benjy Fox-Rosen and Michael Winograd as well as renowned Yiddish songwriter Josh Waletzky. Special guest: violinist Deborah Strauss. A reception with the artists will follow the concert.
Presented by the Center for Traditional Music and Dance's
An-sky Institute for Jewish Culture
From the Casco Bay Tummlers:
Hey Klezmer fans,
Do you play an instrument and have you ever wanted to play klezmer?
Carl Dimow, flutist, guitarist, arranger and composer for the Casco Bay Tummlers, will be teaching a special four week introductory Klezmer Ensemble class, this October at Portland Conservatory of Music. The class will meet on four consecutive Tuesday evenings, starting October 8th. The classes will go from 7:30– 9:00 pm. The tuition is $80 for members, (currently enrolled private lesson students at the Conservatory), and $100 for non-members.
The only requirement for the class is a basic facility on your instrument. In the class we'll be learning and arranging a number of classic klezmer tunes. In the process we'll learn some of the scales and rhythms that define this music. We'll also discuss the history of the music and listen to recordings by influential musicians.
To register for the class, contact Portland Conservatory, (which is located at Woodfords Church, 202 Woodford St., Portland).
From Helen Winkler on the Jewish-Music list:
"... there is a large collection of Yiddish song videos taken recently: www.youtube.com/user/aheymproject/videos. The videos are part of the Aheym project, www.indiana.edu/~libarchm/index.php/projects/aheym-project.html described as: "The Archives of Historical and Ethnographic Yiddish Memories (AHEYM--the acronym means "homeward" in Yiddish) includes approximately 800 hours of Yiddish-language interviews with 350 individuals, most of whom were born between 1900 and 1930. The interviews were conducted in Ukraine, Romania, Moldova." There aren't 350 up there yet, but there are quite a few to view.
So, last week I started out talking about some edge-pushing music from Israel. This week that brings a bundle of nostalgia from Hatikvah Music in LA, just in time for the holidays.
By the late 1950s, American Jews found themselves at home in the US as perhaps in no country since Spain almost 1000 years earlier. American pop musicians were singing Jewish pop and sacred music and creating hits. This collection documents a period, mostly from the late 1950s into the early 1960s where Jewish music was part of the pop gestalt as perhaps never before or since. Eartha Kitt's version of "Rumania, Rumania" is worth the CD all on its own, but other stars featured include Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, Jackie Wilson (yes, that's really "Hava Nagila!"), and more. To make the CD worth ordering in this season, it includes opera star, Cantor Jan Peerce's "Kol Nidre." Jewish Soul. Tell Simon that you heard about it here on the KlezmerShack.
The revelation of this set of reissues, however, is the woman that Hatikvah Music owner Simon Rutberg says "got me into Jewish music." I can hear where he is coming from. Sloan has an amazing voice, and this collection of Moishe Oisher classics still sounds fresh and exciting. I got hooked on the opening "Haggada in Song", fell into shul-going spirits with "Sheyiboney Beys Hamikdash," and perfectly captures the cross-over excitement of "Hassidic in America." Mimi Sloan / sings Moishe Oysher classics, another excellent re-issue from Hatikvah Music.
Even less familiar to me is this collection, Leo Fuld /sings his greatest Yiddish hits. Fuld was a Dutch singer who made a splash as a pop singer before WWII, and gradually incorporated more Yiddish and Hebrew into his act. After losing his family in the Holocaust, he stopped singing for several years while earning a reputation as a writer. He is perhaps best known for his translation of "Vi ahin zol ikh geyn" ("Where can I Go?"—you can hear the Johnny Mathis version of this hit on Jewish Soul, above.) His music remains incredibly popular in Europe and Israel. Time to break through again in the US?
Before Tevye, Theo Bikel was leading the Yiddish wing of the great folk scare to great effect. In this first Elekra recording, he writes, "This is the first alum of Yiddish folklore I have recorded. I do not intend it to be my last." Theodore Bikel / sings Jewish folk songs captures the voice of an already vigorous, young Bikel, and many songs that we know think of as "classics," from "Kum aher du filozof," a classic "Homentashn," and a straight-forward "Lomir zich iberbeten" that eschews some of the art-song heaviness of later recordings by other artists Enjoy.
Bikel returns here for a second outing of Jewish folk favorites with arrangements by Fred Hellerman (one of the "Weavers"). Theodore Bikel / sings more Jewish folk songs may have strings surrounding the folk music, but you can still hear the "sing-along" on songs such as "Lomir alle zingen," or the personal connection between you and the singer on numbers such as "Unter a kleyn beymele" or "Papir iz doch veis."
This final release from the Bikel '60s Elektra canon, Theodore Bikel / Sings Yiddish theatre and folk songs features a song familiar to all of us who fell in love with the recent Coen Brothers movie, A Serious Man, "Dem Milner's Treren." I'm also partial to his take on the always-timely "Dire Gelt."
The High Holidays being upon us, I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge a fascinating collection of "Kol Nidre" recordings featuring composers/arrangers as diverse as Max Bruch and John Zorn, performed by a variety of French ensembles, Kol Nidre / Eight Visions. According to the liner notes (wonderfully detailed, in both French and English) these 8 recordings date from a concert organized by the French Liberal Jewish Union and the French Center for Jewish Music held on Nov 18 and 22, 2009, in the Synagogue of the rue Copernic, recording by radio station "France Musique." For lovers of 20th century Jewish nusakh, lovers of classical music, and anyone caught up in this season, this is a very special recording.
One of the most treasured groups to find me in recent years is a small band from the former Yugoslavia known as "Shira U'tfila." They perform traditional Sephardic songs, liturgical, life-cycle, and just plain folkish. Their most recent recording, Shira U'tfila / Life as a song (2010) focuses on the first available recordings of Sephardic repertoire from the likes of Haim Effendi and Victoria Hazan. The songs range from love songs to religious piyyutim, and the sound will be familiar to all lovers of Greek, Turkish, and similar music descended from the cultures of the Ottoman Empire. Better yet, the second disc in this two-disc set contains the original recordings against which the group's efforts may be judged! Like earlier recordings, this is not only extraordinary work, but is produced with love and wonderful notes. The music is also available as mp3 via iTunes and Amazon.com.
An earlier CD, Shira U'tfila / Sephardic Songs from the Balkans is available from the polish vendor, Orangeworld. This recording features the band playing with a variety of male and female soloists, and again, is produced in a beautiful package with copious notes. I would consider both "essential" and incredible pleasure.
I would be extraordinarily remiss, with all this talk about compilation albums, in not mentioning an extraordinary homegrown compilation: the sampler from the 4th Annual Boston Jewish Music Festival, now available as a fundraiser for the Festival. It is a testament to the extraordinary quality and diversity of the festival that this collection stands on its own as an introduction to some of the best of contemporary Jewish music from old-timers, to young adults to kids. Artists range from my long-time favorites, the Lerner-Moguilevsky Duo, from Argentina, and the extraordinary, voice of Dutch artist Shura Lupovsky, to the Guy Mendilow Ensemble, Daniel Kahn, Ezekiel's Wheels (another hometown fave), the Josh Nelson Project, Electronica artists Stereo Sinai and Mazal, new Israeli sensation, Mika Karni's Kol Dodi, Zamir Choral of Boston, and best of all, live recordings from the 2012 headliner, Andy Statman. You can read more about the collection, and get your own copy (or the 2012 festival collection, should you prefer) from the festival's website. Hear O Israel / the 2013 Boston Jewish Music Sampler