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February 7, 2014

EP of the day: Ben Holmes & Patrick Farrell / EP

CD coverI picked this up at a recent concert by the Yiddish Art Trio here in Boston. Both musicians, Ben on trumpet; Patrick on accordion, are vital members of the post-revival younger generation. Patrick released a wonderful, wildly diverse full-length CD a few years ago, Stagger Back, and I see him most often with various bands that include Michael Winograd and Benjy Fox-Rosen. I first noticed Ben as part of the legendary Princeton band, the Klez Dispensers. He is making a growing name for himself as a jazz trumpeter.

This is just a short recording, but I have been listening to it over and over. It starts with some traditional klezmer, to which the musicians have added some incisive improvisation, moves through Scriabin and Chopin, and finally ends with a Brian Wilson tune. What I like best is that the two play seamlessly, and beautifully together. I also appreciate that the music is often thought-provoking, and that I hear not just pop or classical or klezmer, but parts of something new that pulls these, and other influences, tunefully, together.

in short, just the short of recording, short though it might be, that my ears are always on the lookout for. You can get your own copy on Farrell's website. It will make for excellent Shabbes listening, good throughout the week.

January 17, 2011

Pro Musica Hebraica Classical Music Blog

"As our February 10 concert approaches, Pro Musica Hebraica is pleased to announce a new feature to our website—a blog devoted to Jewish classical music: www.promusicahebraica.org/blog

In the first post, PMH contributor and British bass baritone Mark Glanville describes his personal journey to A Yiddishe Winterreise:

“A Yiddishe Winterreise reminds me that the culture of the people I was encouraged to reject is also part of who they are, that for every Goerring who would reach for his revolver when he heard the word culture, there is a Schubert who set a Hebrew psalm for the Jewish friend who sang his Lied.” [More]

In the second post, PMH contributor and cellist Jason Calloway describes his experience playing Jewish music in Budapest::

“…knowing as I played Eli Zion or the heartbreaking slow movement of the Shostakovich trio (which is a conscious monument by its composer to these victims) that I was truly communing with those lost spirits, is a feeling I will cherish forever. I only hope that I will be able to repeat it and to see the day when the Rumbach Synagogue is once again a living and vibrant house of worship.” [more]

December 25, 2010

Avi Avital becomes 1st Mandolin soloist to be nominated for a classical Grammy

Avi Avital becomes 1st Mandolin soloist to be nominated for a classical Grammy® Award
For his performance of Avner Dorman's Mandolin Concerto

Classical mandolin artist Avi Avital has been recognized as one of the world’s most exciting musical entrepreneurs, building a fresh legacy for an instrument with antiquated roots in the folk tradition through virtuosic performance and exciting new repertoire. On December 1, 2010, Mr. Avital was nominated for a Grammy® Award for Best Instrumental Soloist with Ensemble for his performance of Avner Dorman’s Mandolin Concerto, commissioned by Mr. Avital in 2006, and recorded in 2010 with the New York-based Metropolis Ensemble, conducted by Andrew Cyr. This nomination marks the first time a mandolin soloist has been nominated for a Grammy® Award in a classical music category.

Avital’s Grammy® nominated performance is featured on a recording containing three other concertos by Avner Dorman on the Naxos American Classics label, conducted by Andrew Cyr with the Metropolis Ensemble. Videos are available on YouTube:

For more info:
Email: Paula Mlyn
Tel: (646) 498-0103

Continue reading "Avi Avital becomes 1st Mandolin soloist to be nominated for a classical Grammy" »

November 15, 2010

Hebrew College presents evening with Yehudi Wyner

photo from the Boston Globe, www.boston.comIf I had the time, I would wax lyrical about a special evening sponsored by Hebrew College's School of Jewish Music (SJM) this past Saturday night. Instead, I will try to honor Yehudi and Hebrew College, and perhaps whet people's appetite for more.

The event featured Professor Wyner presenting a series of art song featuring music by his father, Lazar Weiner (father and son spell their family name differently. Insert obligatory immigrant joke here). Wyner introduced many of the songs, and featured singing by a range of luminaries starting with both the President of Hebrew College (Daniel Lehmann) and head of the SJM (Cantor Dr. Brian J. Mayer) and including Cantor Louise Treitman and HC student Rick Lawrence. In addition, we got to listen to several songs by Lynn Torgove, who was also featured in a recent performance (Nov 5, 2010) of Yehudi's own pieces, performed by the Cantata Singers, at Jordan Hall. The voices were magnificent.

The thing is, Yehudi Wyner also helped us hear with his father's ears. As a typographer, for the first time I made that connection between art song—composing music that enables the ears to hear and appreciate the poet's words—and typographer, the art of printing a poet's words so that the words are noticed. In both cases, the communicative medium, whether it be music or print, is most successful when the medium is missed, but the words, the poet's intent, are heard.

Milken CD coverIndeed, as Yehudi stated, and then proved with his playing and the singing of the actual pieces by such masterful voices, Lazar Weiner had an incredible gift for writing spare music, setting the words perfectly. And this music should be studied with German and Italian and French art song—it should not be relegated to an afterthought as though of interest only to musically-educated Yiddishists. This music is wonderful world heritage, not just Yiddish heritage. Wyner talked a little bit about the brief blossoming of Yiddish art song under the patronage of Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov, in both Moscow and St. Petersburg. Wyner didn't mention the St. Petersburg school by name, but scholars, or those who know just enough to have dipped into the recent Milken Archive series will be familiar not just with Weiner's name, but the names of Joseph Achron, Joel Engel, etc.

It is almost criminal that pieces this good are heard so seldom, and I feel very fortunate to have been present to hear Yehudi's stories, along with the exquisite performances. This was not a random event. The SJM is seeking a higher profile, and I would presume would be very happy to talk with sponsors and donors who can further its programs. Starting just a few years ago, there are now 31 students and 10 graduates. All of the graduates, according to Acting Dean Mayer, found immediate employment. That, too, is a neat statement in these times. Stay tuned for a symposium on Yiddish Art Song later in 2011 which will feature scholars such as Mayer, Josh Jacobson, Hankus Netsky, and other members of a very rich Jewish music community here in Boston.

If you are interested in knowing more about the music of Weiner (and Wyner!), or the SJM, check out their website, www.hebrewcollege.edu/jewish-music-cantor. You should also contact them to get on the mailing list for the forthcoming symposium.

October 16, 2010

New reviews by Michael Regenstreif

Jewish-Music mailing list regular Mike Regenstreif has begun writing reviews of new Jewish music for the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin. He has graciously begun sending the columns to the KlezmerShack for publication online here.

In his first reviews, published last month right after the most musically diverse Ashkenaz Festival yet, he covers a couple of artists about whom I know nothing, and a couple that have been very high on the "get a review onto the KlezmerShack soon" list. Not a bad way to start:

cd cover You may have heard Israeli-born cellist Maya Beiser on NPR a few weeks ago. Here, Mike reviews her excellent new album, Provenance.

cd cover Bassist Jim Guttman has been the rock holding Boston's own Klezmer Conservatory Band together since the band's formation these many decades ago. It's taken him a long time to release a CD under his own name, and we've put up with it because his "day band," is, after all, pretty spectacular. This CD, he says, is the one he's longed to create for years, and Mike discusses what makes Bessarabian Breakdown.

cd cover Mike notes the Ashkenaz Festival debut by the Red Hot Chachkas with admiration—and well he should. I was sitting with Philadelphia drummer Elaine Hoffman Watts while they were doing their set, and Elaine was pretty admiring, herself. I've reviewed previous CDs with great pleasure. Their newest, Beats without Borders deserves everything nice that he says about it.

cd cover I've never heard of jazzman Benny Sharoni until I read Mike's review of Eternal Elixir. I would be very surprised if jazz fans don't really enjoy what they hear when they check out the bebop and ballads on the new CD.

June 12, 2010

JSA highlights Zimbalist and Gluck

I have mixed feelings about this announcement, given how ambivalent (to put as positive a spin on it as possible) Alma Gluck felt about the "Jewish" part of her heritage.

JSA highlights two brilliant Jewish performers from the early 20th century.

About a hundred years ago two Jewish superstars of classical music met and fell in love. They were young, they were talented, and they made beautiful music together.

Even before her marriage to the violin virtuoso, Efrem Zimbalist, famed operatic soprano Alma Gluck enjoyed a highly successful recording career.

The Zimbalist-Gluck romance provided lots of material for the gossips of their day. While the idea of such a wonderful pairing of talents was thrilling, there were those who pointed out that Gluck was six years older, as well as a divorcee with a daughter. Scandalous!

After their marriage the Victor/Victrola company capitalized on a sure bet....recording the newlyweds together. You can read more about these performers and their romance on JSA’s blog.

The JSA is proud to announce this special collection of music featuring the combined talents of these legendary performers.

Listen to their music

May 30, 2009

Margot Leverett w/Brown University wind ensemble

For those who missed seeing Margot Leverett solo last month with some special compositions, including a new piece by Matt McGarrell of klezmer tunes for clarinet and wind symphony, there is a second chance:

Matt McGarrell's wonderful arrangement of klezmer tunes for clarinet and wind symphony. which I performed last month with the Brown University wind symphony. I love the arrangement. It was such a pleasure to work with them.

The video does look like it was recorded on cellphone, but the sound quality is decent:

January 26, 2009

Felix Mendelssohn, lost and found

Fanny Mendelssohn, from Wikipedia CommonsGeorge Robinson's latest piece for the Jewish Week discusses the question of the grandson of Haskalah founder Moses Mendelssohn possibly returning to Judaism (his father converted both Felix and sister Fanny when they were young). In Mendelssohn, Lost And Found, Robinson talks about a plethora of pieces that were not published in Mendelssohn's lifetime. It's a fascinating piece, and will hopefully inspire some thinking and research, but to me, the most significant "lost" Mendelssohn is older sister Fanny, who not only played an active role in much of Felix's output (to the degree that some historians feel she should be credited as "co-author" of many pieces, and the possibly-not-coincidental fact that Felix died within months of Fanny), but whose own career as a musician and composer was prevented by both father and brother who felt it entirely inappropriate that a woman should be engaged in such pursuits. One could hope that at least some of the 200th anniversary concerts would acknowledge Fanny (and at least one concert in NYC does), but here in Boston, when the Boston Symphony Orchestra played the 200th anniversary "all-Mendelssohn" concert, they meant Felix only. Sad. Check out your local library for some recordings of Fanny's music that have been recorded and you'll see what I mean. By me, Fanny is the real "lost" story—and for most people, she still hasn't been "found."

January 18, 2009

Joza Karas, z"l

Eva Broman spotted this obituary last month in the NY Times:

Joza Karas, Collector of Music of Nazis’ Victims, Dies at 82, by Douglas Martin, Dec 6, 2008

Joza Karas, a musician and teacher who became a sleuth in his quarter-century search for the music and stories of composers who managed to do masterly work in a Nazi concentration camp, died on Friday in Bloomfield, Conn. He was 82. [more]

December 18, 2008

Klára Móricz - The Art of Jewish Music, à la Russe

Jewish Identities - book coverMy knowledge of music in general, and of classical music in specific, is limited. But hearing of a lecture about Russia's Jewish Folk Music Society, during this, the centennial of the society's founding, was exciting. Here's the thing. Back in the early 20th century you had the Jews infiltrating Russian conservatories. They decided to band together and create "Jewish music." But, what did that mean?

Continue reading "Klára Móricz - The Art of Jewish Music, à la Russe" »

December 14, 2008

Bel Canto - were these recordings =really= the nusakh from temple days?

Andy Tannenbaum, just back from travels to Italy, himself spotted this fascinating audio interview on Nextbook:

Bel Canto: Composer Yotam Haber finds inspiration in a dusty Roman archive; Interview by Sara Ivry

"Thirty years before the common era—a century before the destruction of the Second Temple—some Jews left Jerusalem for Rome. There, they established a community whose cantors chanted Torah in the tradition they brought with them from the land of ancient Israel. It was an insular community and over subsequent generations, that insularity helped preserve the community's distinctiveness. Over the ensuing centuries, the Roman cantorial style remained relatively unchanged, impervious to the flourishes and innovations of newer traditions that arose in the Sephardic and Ashkenazic worlds."

I find that thesis extraordinarily unlikely given how thoroughly Italy's Jews mixed not only Ashkenazic and Sephardic cultures, but local music cultures as well. But that doesn't mean the music isn't great. So, read on/listen on and see what composer Yotam Haber has to say....

September 28, 2008

NEC courses on Jewish and Russian Music

New England Conservatory, 241 St. Botolph Street, Boston, will host two ten week courses with Instructor Yelena Neplok. 'Eastern European Jewish Musical Traditions' runs on Wednesdays, October 1-December -17, 2008, from 7:00-8:30 p.m., and 'The Art of Russian Piano Music' runs on Tuesdays, October 7-December 16, 2008, from 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Registration is now available. Tuition for the NEC School of Continuing Education is $375, and financial aid is available.

For more information and registration, contact: 617-585-1125 (NEC) or call the instructor at 617-566-7969 or e-mail the instructor.

NEC Web: www.newenglandconservatory.edu/continuinged

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July 6, 2008

Washington Post Columnist Starts Jewish Music Project

This came out a couple of months ago, but shouldn't get lost just because I had no chance to go through mail then ;-)

Post Columnist Starts Jewish Music Project, by Ezra Glinter, The Forward, Thu. Mar 20, 2008

Charles Krauthammer knows his way around the written word. But next month, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist and his wife, artist Robyn Krauthammer, will unveil a project devoted to the music note. Pro Musica Hebraica, a new Washington-based organization spearheaded by the couple, will be devoted to highlighting historically neglected works of Jewish art music as well as commissioning new works.

more …

June 21, 2008

Drapkin's "Suite of Old Yiddish Melodies" performed by Austin Symphonic, on YouTube

Michael Drapkin writes: Dear Friends and Family: I had the great honor of having our wonderful Austin Symphonic Band perform my concert band piece "Suite of Old Yiddish Melodies" this past Father's Day here in Austin in Zilker Park. The Texas sun had just gone down, but the air temperature was still in the '90s, so it was sweltering, but the band still played great. Shayna videotaped the concert live all the way from the back of the hillside, which accounts for a lot of crowd noise, but it was done on a tripod, so the results were pretty good. Naturally, her bias was to zoom in on her father! It was appropriate for this to be performed on Father's Day, as on the score I dedicated it to my grandfather Philip Segalove, who used to play a lot of these tunes when I was a child. This piece has been performed by several bands previously, but this is the first time I got to actually perform it myself playing the big solo clarinet part. It is being published this year by Northeastern Music Publications, so it may be coming to a high school or college band near you! It is broken into two pieces in order fit onto YouTube: Suite of Old Yiddish Melodies, Part 1: Suite of Old Yiddish Melodies, Part 2:

February 16, 2008

Pro Musica Hebraica launched

PMH LogoJames Loeffler announces this new organization, of which he is the Research Director, and the groups' inaugural concert on April 10.

Pro Musica Hebraica is a new organization devoted to presenting Jewish classical music—much of it lost, forgotten, or rarely performed—in a concert-hall setting.

We launch our ongoing concert series at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. on April 10, 2008. This inaugural concert celebrates the 100th anniversary of the St. Petersburg school of Russian Jewish composers who a century ago began their own quest to create modern Jewish music. In homage to these musicians, our logo is a reproduction of one of their early concert programs.

The concert series is the result of a unique partnership between The Juilliard School and the Kennedy Center, featuring the musicians of the Juilliard Chamber Music Program together with special guest Itzhak Perlman.

March 24, 2007

UK Conference on Ernest Bloch

Ernest Bloch
Sunday 29 July - Wednesday 1 August 2007
Ernest Bloch: The Man and his Music for the 21st Century
International Conference
Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University
Key Bloch scholars will present papers on all aspects.
Includes: recital, banquet, and visit to the famous archive of the Cairo
Geniza housed at Cambridge University Library as well as punting on the
River Cam.
Registration: J Audrey Ellison (Bloch Conference Administrator
135 Stevenage Road, Fulham, London, SW6 6PB United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7381 9751
Fax:+44 (0)20 7381 2406
Find more information and download Registration Form from the Jewish Music
Institute Website www.jmi.org.uk

February 25, 2007

Kitka and Davka on PBS; available also on DVD

Tzadik recordings artists Davka have been working on an interesting fusion of new Jewish music for a decade, fusing classical training and traditions with klezmer, yiddish, sephardic, and middle eastern sounds. A few years ago they appeared at the Berkeley Jewish Music Festival with an amazing women's Balkan chorus, Kitka. I have been a fan of the latter almost since their inception in 1979 and treasure my cassette copy of their first release. In a PBS special that aired in December 2006, the two groups appeared together, again. There are also some interviews with members of the two ensembles about Jewish music and what it is to them. Kitka performs a wide variety of Jewish, primarily Sephardic music, while Davka also delivers a very nice live performance. They close with a few numbers together and are joined by Cantor Stephen Saxon (KlexX). It's a lovely program. If your PBS station hasn't yet aired it, encourage them to do so. Or, purchase a DVD (more interviews, songs) yourself.

For more information, visit the filmmakers' website, www.forestcreatures.com
kitka and davka live

January 31, 2006

Tribute to Viktor Ullmann

recording of Ullmann's 2nd symphonyOkay, one more important article that has been waiting several months. Stewart Cherlin has been writing for the KlezmerShack since 1997. His most recent article is about the Czech composer, Viktor Ullmann, who composed some amazing music in Terezenstadt before being shipped off to Auschwitz by the Nazis. Those who heard the lecture on his music at the Milken Conference a couple of years ago, or who have been privileged to otherwise encounter his music know that this isn't just your average Schoenberg-student does 20th century shtick music—this is "stick it to the Nazis in full glorious and conscious defiance" music. Many thanks to Stewart for writing an article about the music, and this past summer's performances in Chicago. We've added some links to learn more about Ullmann, as well.

Read Viktor Ullmann Remembered: A review and article on Viktor Ullmann and his music, performed at the Ravinia Festival, written by Stewart I. Cherlin

December 31, 2005

George Robinson: Best Jewish Music Recordings of 2005

album coverGeorge Robinson writes frequently for the Jewish Week. He listens to an incredible diversity of music. Take a read of Five Stars All Around: From chasidic reggae to Golden Age chazanut, the best recordings of 2005, Jewish Week, 12/30/2005 (could this really be? Posting a new review in a timely fashion! I'll try to keep up for a while! Since several of the CDs I've been meaning to review are on this list, I even resolve to catch up here at home!)

January 8, 2004

Rogovoy on Asia in Forverts

Seth Rogovoy notes to the Jewish-Music list his article on Daniel Asia. I had never heard of Asia before, but my knowledge of modern Jewish classical doesn't go much past Copland (love that klezmer "Carpathian Spring" piece!) or Bernstein or a touch of Messaien and Wyner, father and son:

This week's Forward includes an article by me about contemporary composer Daniel Asia, one of the premiere Jewish classical composers of our era. In honor of his 50th birthday, there will be a retrospective concert of his works at Merkin Hall in NYC on January 17th.

You can read the article here: Restoring Spirituality To Music ... And Life, English-language Forward, Jan 9, 2004, by Seth Rogovoy

November 3, 2003

New reviews by George Robinson

George Robinson announces a slew of new music columns published almost all together in New York's Jewish Week:

Five-Star Klez: From New Orleans and Odessa, fusion and traditional approaches.

A Fall Sampler: From Solomon Rossi to Michael Strassfeld.

Heard Around The World: From Turkey to London to the Lower East Side.

May 24, 2003

Review: Jewish Cello Masterpieces

A few weeks ago, Elliott Simon wrote to the Jewish-Music mailing list:

... I posted to the list regarding any knowledge of Jewish themed Cello recordings. Since that time, I have received a copy of a wonderful CD by Richard Locker entitled "Jewish Cello Masterpieces"..It is a mix of classical(pardon my use of genre, *smile*, yes I know Bruch and Bloch arent technically "classical" my daughter continues to remind me when I make such a faux paux),Yiddish Theatre and other goodies. It is basically a great CD......you can see my review at.... www.allaboutjazz.com/reviews/r0503_074.htm

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.

Continue reading "Jewish Music Conference at Yale, Apr 12-13" »

April 7, 2003

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.

March 23, 2003

CRI bought by New World Records; CD dist sought

CD CoverJeffrey Schanzer writes:

"I'm writing because the CRI (Composers Recordings, Inc.) label, which put out my CD "No More In Thrall," is going out of business after almost 50 years. ... "No More In Thrall" was written to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald, and is performed by the Sirius String Quartet with Kevin Norton on percussion. CRI's catalogue, which is quite extensive, will be take over by New World Records, which will re-release the CRI recordings over a number of years. Right now, CRI and its distributor is selling their remaining stock at a bargain rate price. So, I wanted to ask you to forward this to some of the Jewish music distributors you know from the list to see if they are interested in picking some up at a good price. No one will be distributing this for several years at least.

For remaining stock, and in particular for Jeff Schanzer's CD, visit: www.newworldrecords.org/CRI.html, and for information on NWR, visit their website at www.newworldrecords.org

February 17, 2003

Review of Maxwell Street / Old Roots New World, by Richard Sharma

album coverRichard Sharma has posted several reviews of wonderful klezmer albums to the Jewish-music list. The author has given us permission to post this one to the KlezmerShack, and we thank him profusely. Our own delay in getting this reviewed is only partially mitigated by Mr. Sharma's well-written, and suitably enthusiastic words: www.klezmershack.com/articles/sharma/sharma.maxwellst.html

Enjoy!

October 26, 2002

New release-Jewish music by holocaust survivor Anita Lasker Wallfisch

It is a very fortunate privilege to inform you of a record of great musical and historical significance. This is the story of Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, a very young musician whose life was saved by her cello. It is also a testament to life in Auschwitz and the founding of a musical dynasty. Anita Lasker-Wallfisch narrates her own story which is illustrated by music chosen and played by herself, her son Raphael Wallfisch and grandsons Benjamin and Simon. The highlight of the recording is the rarely heard and very beautiful "Requiem" Op. 66 for three cellos and piano by the 19th century Jewish Composer, David Popper. It is played here by three generations of Wallfisch cellists.

Continue reading "New release-Jewish music by holocaust survivor Anita Lasker Wallfisch" »

March 9, 2002

Choral Concert in the Jewish and Christian traditions "Psalms"

The first CD produced by AMJ - the Friends of Jewish Music - is the live recording from the remarkable concert given on March 11th 2001 at the Geneva Conservatory, Switzerland.

Continue reading "Choral Concert in the Jewish and Christian traditions "Psalms"" »

February 18, 2002

In Memoriam of Liberation--Theodorakis' Mauthausen Trilogy and more, recent reviews by Ari Davidow

reviews of great new releases of music by Mikis Theodorakis, Zakarya, Naftule's Dream, Chava Alberstein, and Monsieur Camembert.