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October 27, 2003

Review: New Milken Archive Recording of Jewish Concertos

Elliott Simon posted information about this to the jewish-music mailing list:

These pieces are not the kind of klezmer you're most likely familiar with. Composed by the top drawer of American Jewish or expatriate composers, all are warm with the familiar sounds and rhythms of Eastern European Hebraic culture....

Klezmer Concertos and Encores: Various Artists | Naxos/Milken Archive of American Jewish Music

Festival of New Jewish Liturgical Music, Nov 13-14

Announcing the Festival of New Jewish Liturgical Music
November 13-­14, 2004
Deadline for submissions: March 30, 2004

For an application and more information, e-mail
Shalshelet@NewJewishMusic.com or visit

Shalshelet: The Foundation for New Jewish Liturgical Music
seeks to foster new music for Jewish congregational use and
expose wider audiences to innovations in Jewish religious
music. Shalshelet promotes the creation and spread of new
Jewish liturgical music.

Through the annual Festival of New Jewish Liturgical Music,
along with accompanying publications, such as a festival CD
and songbook, Shalshelet provides a venue for composers to
share their music.

A musical composition submitted
--must enhance congregational worship;
--must have been written less than two years prior to the
--must accompany a Jewish sacred text, taking care to
capture the spirit and importance of the text; and
--must not have been previously published or performed at a
major music festival.

The application process is open to everyone, regardless of
age, gender, Jewish affiliation, musical background, or
professional experience. A music committee will review
submissions with the support of advisory members.
Submissions may be selected for performance, publication, or

For an application and more information, e-mail
Shalshelet@NewJewishMusic.com or visit
tel: 301-907-3336
PO Box 15836
Chevy Chase, MD 20825

Biggest Hora in History - this weekend in New Jersey

Sunday, November 2, 10am- 5pm, THE BIGGEST HORA IN HISTORY. Be a
part of history- dance in the largest Hora ever, (7,000 people
expected) and be recorded in the Guinness Book of Worlds Records as
the largest circle dance in history. The event features live music
all day as well as Israeli vendors. @ The Blue Claws Baseball Stadium
(First Energy Park)in Lakewood, NJ. Admission: Adults $3, Children
and Seniors $2. For tickets or to register to dance contact the
Jewish Federation of Ocean County: 732-363-0530 or

New CDs of Spanish-Portugese Cantorial Music

Joel Bresler spotted this press release and posted to the Jewish-Music mailing list:

The Shearith Israel League of the historic Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of New York has just issued three exciting CDs in the Western Sephardic Tradition commemorating the 350th anniversary of the founding of the Congregation and the arrival of the first Jews to North America.

Tel: 212-873-0300; Fax: 212-724-6165

The original recordings of the Sabbath, High Holidays and Festivals services and miscellaneous selections were made almost fifty years ago and feature the beautiful voices and liturgical styles of Dr. David de Sola Pool, Dr. Louis C. Gerstein, Rev. Abraham Lopes Cardozo and the Shearith Israel Choir. These recordings have now been re-mastered to present the traditional liturgical music of Congregation Shearith Israel.

Accompanied by three libretti with Hebrew text and English translation, these CDs provide a readily accessible means of hearing these beautiful renditions and experiencing this tradition.

The selections are sung by Rev. Dr. David de Sola Pool, who was rabbi of the Congregation from 1907 to 1956, Rev. Dr. Louis C. Gerstein, who was its rabbi from1956 to 1988 and Rev. Abraham Lopes Cardozo, who was its hazzan from 1946 until his retirement in 1990. They are all accompanied by the famous Congregation Shearith Israel Choir led by Leon Hyman, its present Choirmaster and some of his predecessors.

A reviewer of these CDs has commented that "the new sound has depth and carries with it a magical quality, like rare, old vintage wine. But unlike fine wine, the CDs will last indefinitely."

The complete set of 3 CD's sells for $50 (plus $6.00 postage and handling for delivery in the U.S. or Canada/$12.00 International).

You may order by e-mail by e-mailing sil@sailtd.org including the following information:

Quantity Ordered:

Or you may order by mail (or fax), enclosing a check or money order (payable in US funds, drawn on a US bank):

NEW YORK, NY 10023

Tel: 212-873-0300; Fax: 212-724-6165

October 20, 2003

Review: Kruzenshtern & Parohod / the craft of primitive klezmer

cool lettering, cool album coverThey are a trio and they don't play klezmer. But whatever it is, this is wonderful, wonderful experimental music - the sort of music that causes people like me to brave dozens of tedious mishmoshes of sound to find something this good.

All I know about the band is that they come from Russia. Now they live in Israel. They formed a year ago. And they are insanely good. For more, read my review. Then run out and order the album.

October 19, 2003

Review: Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys

album coverShira Lerner posted the following short review on the new Margot Leverett album to the Jewish-Music mailing list:

Just finished my first listen to the Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys CD. WOW! I expected to like it, but I was totally blown away! What a fargenign! This recording is going to wear out fast. Play it in the car (hey, in LA that's a major time commitment), on my office system, while I'm cooking - I can't think of any activity which won't be enhanced with this music going on. And, of course, just sitting and listening to it is very rewarding. Beautifully conceptualized and arranged, wonderfully played, a marvelous accomplishment. I always approach the "fusion" stuff with some trepidation. Is it going to be simply alternating styles without the work to do a true melding? Are these 2 styles really compatible/complimentary or is this a haphazard cut-and-paste for "marketing" reasons? No such worries here. As to identifying a few tracks as my favorites - fuggedaboutit! Loved the cuts with Frank and the Klezmer Brass All-Stars, really enjoyed the cut with Michael Alpert's singing, but just the "straight" klezmer/bluegrass cuts (say, tracks 7, 8 & 9) are terrific. Not a clinker in the bunch. If you like plain-old straight-ahead klezmer, but this CD. If you like bluegrass, buy this CD. Hell, what ever you like, buy this CD!

Haven't liked anything this much since Kurt & Annetta's wonderful CD. yasher koyekh to all involved!

Shira Lerner

KlezKamp returns to Catskills, Dec 23-29, 2003

KlezKamp returns to CatskillsThe 19th Annual Yiddish Folk Arts Program "KlezKamp" will be held from December 23-29, 2003 at the Swan Lake Hotel in the heart of New York's Catskill region. For information about the program, registration, and work/study options please go to our website www.klezkamp.org.

To find out more about KlezKamp, see Ari Davidow's article about KlezKamp '96 or Ben Gerhon's article about KlezKamp '99

October 12, 2003

Czech Jewish Jazz from Nazi Era

Sandra Layman posted this link to the Jewish-Music mailing list.

(About "In Defiance of Fate," 26 compositions arranged by sax player Fritz Weiss for the Czech-based Emil Ludvik Orchestra between 1939 and 1941)

New jazz CD shows contribution of Czech Jew persecuted by Nazis, By Pavla Kozakova. It's on the JTA website.

October 8, 2003

article on Israeli music in "Maamakim"

I don't know if I've mentioned "Maamakim", but it's an interesting-looking website on Jewish music. The website is hosted at Yeshiva University, these days generally considered part of the frummer-than-thou branch of Jewish Orthodoxy. There is a lot of religious-inspired music mentioned (and I hasten to confess I have no "frummer" scale on which to judge it - if anyone has such a thing) and sampled on the pages, but the magazine is much broader. The current issue includes an interview with Basya Schechter of Pharaoh's Daughter and a positive review of "Trumpet in the Wadi," an Israeli movie that is a Jewish-Christian Arab love story. Here's a recent article on Israeli Ethiopian and Mizrahi music cited by Eva Broman on the Jewish-Music list:

Dave’s Guide to Israeli Music, Part 2: Mizrahi and Ethiopian Music by magazine chief editor David Druce.

First 5 Milken CDs released on Naxos

album coverThe first five compact discs of the historic multiyear recording series, the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music, are now available on the Naxos label. The discs can be ordered through the Milken Archive Web site at www.milkenarchive.org or the Naxos Web site at www.naxos.com.

All proceeds from the sale of the Milken Archive recordings will be directed back into the Milken Archive's nonprofit programs in furtherance of educational and cultural goals. Over the next several years, the Milken Archive will release a total of 50 CDs comprising more than 600 newly recorded sacred and secular works.

For more information, see the Milken Archive website

All About Jazz back up; new reviews by Elliott Simon

Elliott Simon writes on the Jewish-Music mailing list:

Hi all...As some of you may have noticed the AllAboutJazz website has been down due to a server crash for a few weeks. At this point most things are up and functioning but some of the most recent articles have been lost. They are being reconstructed and will re-appear, unfortunately with new links, over the next few weeks. The British-Klez- Jazz article that I wrote is back up with a new link. It is at:


You can also see a preview of the Zorn cover piece I did with him for the September issue at:


I was at the Electric Masada concert last week at the tonic and it was pretty incredible. It was followed by a midnight set (actually closer to 1 am) of Roberto Rodriguez's Septeto with Krakman...which rocked...Meg Okura is truly an incredible violinist....thanks to all for their patience while things get up and running....but of course if you are in NYC....or go to the .pdf files of the papers on the site...you can always see a NYC paper that is friendly to Jewish Music and its continued association with Jazz...Anyone go to the recent Jewish Music in Jazz Time concert? Would love to know thoughts.

David Chevan, "Days of Awe" review

album coverSandra Layman discovered this timely (Oct 3, 2003) article about David Chevan's latest album.

October 4, 2003

Jewish Music in Poland Between the World Wars

cover of original book in Yiddish

I am pleased to announce a new web page, finished in time just before the New Year 5764.

It is a virtual page of commemoration of Jewish Musicians in Poland between the Two World Wars and in the Holocaust. It is based on the book of Issachar Fater: "Jewish Music in Poland between the World Wars" Hakibbutz Hameuchad Publishing House Ltd., Tel Aviv 1992 ISBN 965-02-0060-6


Shalom ve'Shana Tova,
Ada Holtzman

I am very thankful to Mr. Fater for giving me the honor to translate, extract and post parts of this book in the Internet. Nowadays all the world knows about one musician, which appears in the lexicon of that book many years before he became a legend in a film, and this is of course Wladislaw Szpilman, "the Pianist", in the well known film of Roman Polanski.

But very few know about his father, the musician Szmuel Szpilman, perished in ghetto Warsaw, or his uncle, Reuwen Szpilman, a pious Jew, gifted with many musical talents, born in Ostrowice, father of 8 musician children and musical grandchildren, murdered in Treblinka... These were part of a whole world of Jewish musicians, who graced this earth with their music, classical and traditional, jazz and folklore, singing and playing endless instruments, conductors, masters, violinists, pianists, composers... Unfortunately most of them were not as fortunate as Wladislaw Szpilman who survived the Holocaust, and their music as their lives were cut off in the middle of creation and the middle of life, by the Nazis and their collaborators.

The web site contains the table of contents of the book, 24 names of the detailed biographies in the book, of the greatest musicians considered by the author:

BEIGELMAN Dawid, BERNSTEIN Abraham Mosze, DAWIDOWICZ Abraham Cwi, EISENSTADT Dawid, EISENSTADT Marysia-Miriam, FAJWISZIS Israel, GEBIRTIG Mordechaj, GERSTEIN Jakub, GIMPEL Bronislaw, GLATSTEIN Jakub, GLATSTEIN Israel, GOLD Henryk, HUBERMAN Bronislaw, KAMINSKI Josef, KIPNIS Menachem, KON Chanoch (Henech), RUBINSTEIN Artur, SIROTA Gerszon, SLIEP Abraham, SZERMAN Pinchas, SZLOSBERG Icchak, SZNEUR Mosze, TAUB Rabbi Szaul Jedidja Eleazar and ZAKS Icchak.

As you can see from the above list, not all of these musicians were murdered in the Holocaust. But the book laments the grand Jewish culture which reached in Poland its highest climax and which was lost, destroyed by the Germans in the Holocaust.

All these musicians were part of this great spirit, nourished and developed in Poland in the first half of the 20th century. I have translated one biography of Marysia (Miriam) Eisenstadt, as a mirror to the young Jewish Polish generation of great talents and promise, so cruelly destroyed in the prime of life.

The lexicon itself contains 368 names (a partial list) was compiled by the author Mr. Issachar Fater from tens of books about Jewish music, Jewish Theater and culture and from tens of Yizkor books, which the author studied, during 15 years of his life...

The book was originally written and published in Yiddish and recently a Polish version was also published in Poland. I have extracted the details about the musician's musical subjects, his years of birth and death, if available, his town of birth and town of main activity. The book itself contains a biography about each musician. I hope this memorial web page will help to inspire people to study and remember the great Jewish-Polish heritage which was and is no more...


Yiddish and Music at the Los Angeles Winter Yiddish Intensive!

brochure coverANNOUNCING: The only West Coast and the world's only winter Yiddish intensive: the 4th annual "Art of Yiddish: Entering the Heart of a Culture Through Its Beat", Los Angeles, December 14 ­ 20, 2003. Learn Yiddish with the best Yiddish teachers in North America: Pesakh Fiszman, Anna Gonshor, Miriam Hoffman, Sheyndl Liberman, and Sheva Zucker. Develop a deeper understanding of the culture that created our beloved Klezmer music and humor, with world-renown klezmorim Jeff Warschauer and Deborah Strauss teaching song and dance workshops (bring along your own instruments too); ethnomusicologist Robert Cohen revealing the back stories to Yiddish music; and writer/actor Yakov Basner illuminating the comic side of Yiddish literature from Chelm to Moshe Nadir. Theodore Bikel joins us for our closing concert and farbrengen.

It's the perfect time to explore your roots through the vitality, soul, and wit of Yiddish culture. Produced in collaboration with the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies and the University of Judaism Department of Continuing Education. For more information and to request or download the brochure, please visit www.yiddishinstitute.org or e-mail Miriam@yiddishinstitute.org.

Updated Ukrainian Jewish site

Dear Friends,

Please, visit updated klezmer.com.ua "Klezmer vig"! There you can find the info about the recent "Klezfest in Ukraine, 2003" and sound tracks from Gala Concert, which took place in Kiev August, 28!

Yana Yanover
Director, The Center of Jewish Education in Ukraine


by Olga Stelmashevska

Upon hearing the words "Jewish music", modern people have only one association to them - dance "Seven Forty". Nevertheless, not one wedding has so far been done without Jewish folklore. This music can be heard even at Moslem weddings of Crimean Tatars. It is understandable, for true arts have no boundaries or religious taboos. At the same time, no one ever thought of where different nations get this everlasting love for Jewish dancing melodies. As it turned out, there is a whole musical movement called the "klezmer music" (from Hebrew "kli-zemer" - "musical instrument"). Today, this movement has become an international phenomenon. This can be seen from the Forth International Festival and Master Class "Klezfest in Ukraine, 2003" that took place at the Kiev resort Pusch-Voditsa on August 24-29. This year, its organizers Yana and Boris Yanover, with the assistance of the Jewish Communities Development Fund for Russia and Ukraine (New York, USA), a project of the American Jewish World Service, invited 55 best performers from Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Estonia, Russia, Great Britain, the Czech Republic, United States, and Canada to take part in it. For the second year in a row, the final gala concert of the festival has been opened for the general public. Thanks to this fact, the klezmer movement is gaining popularity in Ukraine. It is no secret that more and more Gentile musicians start devoting their efforts to the development of this genre. Such tendencies have most rapidly developed in the musical life of Germany. The figures are astonishing. One website of klezmer music provides information on 32 orchestras that perform klezmer. But whatever the reasons behind such popularity of this culture on the both sides of the Wall (guilt, anti-fascism, opposition to the official culture - all of these aspects contribute to the fact), the klezmer life in Germany is characterized by a small percentage of Jewish orchestras that perform klezmer music and by a very small Jewish audience to listen to it. Some people believe neither Jews nor (even less so) Germans should play Jewish music. The very existence of Gentile klezmer orchestras proves a great success of this movement in Europe. Klezmer was recognized as genuine and honored folk music that awakes the interest of serious people of various ethnic groups.

I attended the gala concert of the Kiev "Klezfest" on August 28 at the State Musical Children's Theater. So I can see a few more reasons why this musical trend had such a success with different layers of the population. For example, there were a lot of club-house youth among the audience who came to listen to the so-called Jewish jazz. It was played by quite a radical singer from London clubs, Penelope Salomon. She presented a whole jazz potpourri on Jewish themes and was accompanied by musicians in yarmulkes. No wonder that the hall exploded with applause at the end of her brilliant performance. Another example is a most masterly pianist, composer and arranger, soloist of the Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band, Marylyn Lerner from Canada, who is also widely known precisely in jazz circles. And there was certainly the old guest of Ukrainian Klezfests, recognized leader of the traditional klezmer style, soloist of the Sukke trio, clarinetist Merlin Shepherd from Great Britain. First he artistically conducted a klezmer orchestra combined of instrumentalists - participants in the festival. Thus he tuned the public into dancing. Then, in the second, apotheosis, part of the concert he played his clarinet in such a way that people remembered the words of Sholom-Aleichem when he spoke of a klezmer violinist. "When he put his cheek against his violin and began to run his bow over the strings, a new world would open in front of us. You felt a captured soul inside of his violin. This soul strives for freedom, crying, weeping and imploring... Jewish men with long beards and hardened faces felt like small children when they listened to klezmer Chaim's music: His violin sang, his violin spoke as a living being, it grabbed at your soul:"

Another reason for the success of this music lays in the peculiar melodies and theatricality of Yiddish songs. This year, along with wonderful Adrian Cooper from the United States, the festival discovered blind Czech singer, Katerina Koltsova, who won our hearts with her singing once and for all. But as is known, Jewish music is not just eternal sadness - it's also impetuous joy and delicate, refined humor. This aspect of it was seen not only in instrumental wedding melodies that were played in the course of the whole concert, but also in the original musical parody performed by Psoy Korolenko, Moscow. In different languages, he managed to tell a story of the famous song "Bamir biz tu shein" that every Soviet person knows from famous Leonid Utyosov's song.

In general, I would divide this concert into two parts. One is traditional klezmer music usually represented either by the older generation of musicians or by debutants who have just finished learning the basics of this musical genre. The second part is club-house klezmer music performed by virtuoso musicians. The latter don't care where the melody comes from if it enables one to enjoy, to experiment, to improvise, or to arrange in a non-traditional manner: Maybe it is due to such musicians that klezmer music had gone far outside the boundaries of community music and brought glory to the countries of klezmer festivals - Hungary, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine.

I should also acknowledge the enlightening and the "museum" mission of this unique musical forum that annually gathers very interesting people with diverse gifts. For instance, Jeffrey Perelman taught on very practical topics: "Musical Market and Self-Advertisement" and "Self-Advertisement: Planning Your Concert Tour without a Manager". I would also like to wish to "Klezfest" that it expands its boundaries outside closed concert halls. I believe the level of this festival and musicians that participate in it is worthy of being heard by as many people as possible. The audience may join in dancing within the first few seconds of klezmer music or a Yiddish song. But look - the whole Krakow and seems like the whole world dances during a similar festival in Poland!

October 2, 2003

Helsinki Klezmer Festival, Oct 25-27

festival logoHelsinki Klezmer Festival, the festival of traditional instrumental music of the Yiddish-speaking people is organized for the third time already in Finland. Savoy Theatre as its venue, the event aims to make klezmer music better known in general and to give people a possibility to get to know one of the Europe's most interesting cultural traditions. Klezmer music has its roots in the medieval Europe, where the Jewish people of the Eastern Europe traveled from town to town in order to play in weddings and other events. By the end of the 18th century klezmer music had become a well-developed music style, gathering influences from the Jewish culture and from outside of it.

Nowadays klezmer music is played almost all around the world, but mostly in the United States and in Europe. Klezmer music is constantly evolving and mixing with other music styles such as jazz and pop music. In order for the style to survive it is still important that there are also bands trying to find out the origins of klezmer music and ways to maintain it as authentic as possible. The authenticity of the music will not bring back the culturally rich community that once lived in the Eastern Europe but will give the listeners a possibility to get a bit closer look at the life of the society that lived at that time.

More information at: www.popzoo.fi/klezmer

Judaica Music Website Now Open

Joel Bresler writes to the Jewish-Music mailing list about this new website:

The Judaica Music Rescue Project at the FAU Library s Fraiberg Judaica Collections is proud to announce the opening of our website at www.fau.edu/jewishmusic.

We have worked very hard to make this website accessible, enjoyable and unique. We have given birth, but the baby has not yet taken its first steps. There is so much more to come in the months ahead. We will continue to increase the listings in our database, add a detailed page for each song, and label scans will be added for viewing, as well as album covers (when available). Most of all, we look forward to the day when we can announce that the actual music is available to be listened to in a non-downloadable streaming audio format.