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Yale Strom kicks off "Great Day on Eldridge Street," Oct 11, 2007

The Eldridge Street Project brings together more than 75 klezmer musicians from around the globe for "a great day on eldridge street"

Unprecedented Gathering of Klezmer Legends and the World’s Most Influential Klezmorim For Photo Shoot Inspired by the Iconic "Great Day in Harlem" Photo

October 12 Procession and Photograph on the Steps of the Landmark Eldridge Street Synagogue Kicks Off Statewide "Great Day" Tour

NEW YORK, NY (Sept. 15, 2007)—The Eldridge Street Project will assemble more than 75 of the world’s most influential klezmer musicians for “A Great Day on Eldridge Street,” an unprecedented, ten-day series of concerts, lectures and educational events that will kick-off on October 12 with a march through the streets of the Lower East Side and an historic photo shoot on the steps of the National Historic Landmark Eldridge Street Synagogue. The photo is inspired by “A Great Day in Harlem,” the iconic 1958 photograph of renowned jazz musicians, including Thelonius Monk, Dizzie Gillespie and Count Basie.

This unique gathering of international musicians is conceived and led by Yale Strom, a klezmer virtuoso and the world’s leading ethnographer of klezmer culture and history. “I was influenced by the film A Great Day in Harlem and wanted to do something similar for klezmer culture,” says Strom. “The Lower East Side is the birthplace of Eastern European Jewish culture in America. And Eldridge Street is the oldest East European Orthodox synagogue, and an important site of traditional Jewish culture. I can’t think of a more appropriate place to take this photograph.”

The ten-day celebration will highlight klezmer, the wedding and folk music predominantly played by Eastern European Jews. Derived from Near Eastern and East European music sources, and influenced by the regions’ classical and folk traditions, klezmer is a decidedly multi-cultural musical form. Brought to the United States by Eastern European Jewish immigrants, its popularity waned by the 1950s as Jews looked to American musical sources. But klezmer experienced a revival beginning in the 1970s when young musicians interested in their East European Jewish roots reclaimed this musical tradition, incorporating American jazz and rock influences.

“Klezmer music is a remarkable, vital art form that spans countries, backgrounds and generations,” said Bonnie Dimun, executive director of the Eldridge Street Project. “Our hope is that this celebration will bring about a renewed appreciation for klezmer, both as a wonderful form of entertainment and an important aspect of Jewish culture.”

Musicians participating in A Great Day on Eldridge Street will travel to the Lower East Side from across the United States and around the world, including Canada, Israel, Europe and the former Soviet Union. They include pioneers of the klezmer renaissance, such as David Krakauer, Frank London and Andy Statman, guiding figures including folk singer and actor Theodore Bikel and MacArthur Award winner John Zorn, and more recent practitioners of the genre. Other featured participants are Don Byron, the world-famous African American jazz clarinetist who is an original member of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, as well as leading female klezmorim Adrienne Cooper and Alicia Svigals. International figures include Moshe Berlin, the famed Israeli clarinetist who will be performing for the first time in America, and members of the aptly named Amsterdam klezmer revival band Di Gojim—none of whom is Jewish.

The participants range in age from nineteen year old Stephanie Tarras great-granddaughter to David Tarras) to octogenarians Mina Bern and Shifra Lehrer, grand dames of Yiddish theatre. A number of the Great Day on Eldridge Street participants come from a long, esteemed line of klezmorim, including Sy Tarras, son of the late great klezmer clarinetist David Tarras, Ray Muziker, Peter Sokolow, Eleanor Reissa, Adrienne Cooper, Joel Rubin, Elizabeth Schwartz, etc.

The events of this multi-faceted cultural, performance and documentation project will include:

  • Thursday, October 11: Educational workshop with select group of musicians and second grade students at local Chinatown public school P.S. 1

  • Friday, October 12: Procession 11:30am from the Eldridge St. Synagogue to Seward Park featuring the musicians as they march down the streets of the Lower East Side. Photographer Leo Sorel will then take a portrait of the group at 9am.

  • Saturday, October 12th: Major evening concert at Elebash recital hall at the CUNY graduate center. Located 365 5th Ave. and 34th St. 8pm. FREE. Michael Alpert, Bob Cohen (Budpaest), Di Gojim (Holland), Phyllis Berk, Zalman Mlotek, Judy Bressler, etc. The evenings host will be NPR’s Ellen Kushner.

  • Sunday, October 14: Major evening concert at Symphony Space (96th St. and Broadway) in Manhattan. 8pm. Call: 212 864- 1414. Theo Bikel, Don Byron, Elizabeth Schwartz, Michael Alpert, Andy Statman, Hankus Netsky, etc. The evening’s host will be actor/director Isaiah Sheffer.

  • October 15-21: Statewide Great Day Tour with performances and educational workshops at the Bardavon 1869 Opera House in Poughkeeepsie (October 16), The 1891 Fredonia Opera House (October 18), Buffalo State Performance Arts Center (October 20) and the 1890 Performance Hall at Hochstein in Rochester (October 22)

The Great Day Tour will feature a select group of thirteen renowned klezmer musicians: Moshe Berlin, Paul Brody, Robert Cohen, Arkady Gendler, Rachel Lemisch, David Licht, Barry Mitterhoff, Leon Pollack, Elizabeth Schwartz, Norbert Stachel, Peter Stan, Jim Whitney and Yale Strom.