" /> the KlezmerShack: September 2005 Archives

« August 2005 | Main | October 2005 »

September 20, 2005

Book on teaching Purimspiel published

Yana Yanover posted this to the Jewish-Music mailing list:

Klezfest in Ukraine, 2005, was dedicated to studying the Jewish folk musical theatre of Purimshpil, as well as to further work on the modern professional skill and creativity of the participants.

A book "Purimshpil. Scenario for work at Klezfest in Ukraine, 2005" (Kiev: The Center of Jewish Education in Ukraine. Jewish Music Department, 2005) was published for the event. The book has been prepared using Moisey Beregovsky's materials from his "Jewish folk musical theatrical performances" (Kiev, Institute of Judaic Library, Publisher "Duh I Litera", 2001). The book was released for the use of musicians and teachers in concert work and education.

The Purimshpil was directed by Alina Ivakh, scenario composed by Eugenia Lopatnik, music by Polina Shepherd and traditional.

We really hope that the further work on Purimshpil will lead us to the revival of Jewish professional traveling theater in Western Europe.

On klezmer.com.ua/events/info10_1.php you can read more about Purimshpil in August, 2005 and listen some musical examples.

Yana Yanover, Director, Klezfest in Ukraine, 2000-2005

September 18, 2005

Jew*School covers the NYJMHC

jewschool goes to NYJMHFMy favorite Jewish blog has done some dynamite coverage of several events at the New York Jewish Music and Heritage fest. You can start from the most recent by just popping over to Jew*School, or you can start with mobius' coverage of the opening night.

Heeb's First Annual Jewish Music Award Fest - Don't you first have to have a clue about Jewish Music?

So, tomorrow night the New York Jewish Music and Heritage Fest and Heeb Magazine will cosponsor something they are calling "1st Annual Jewish Music Awards".

This is undeniably a good thing in theory. Given that there isn't even a Grammy award for anything relating to "Jewish", it is great that at least somewhere in the Jewish community someone is noticing Jewish music. But as I look at the nominees and categories, I can't help but reflect that the awards also feature something else for which Heeb is notorious: clueless attitude.

Don't get me wrong. Heeb is a great collection of bad attitude and Jewish symbology divorced from that messy Jewish context, a place where the confusion between "of Jewish ancestry" and "connected to current Jewish culture" thrives. And this can be a lot of fun.

The attitude can lead to some nifty places. The award announcements begin with a lifetime achievement award for Joey Ramone: an interesting bit of irony given Joey's passing four years ago. "Jewish" may not have been any obvious (even non-obvious?) part of Ramone's music or outlook, but he was Jewish, and the Ramones played kick ass music. Who could object?

Next there is the "Heritage" aware for Debbie Friedman. This, too, reflects some interesting perspective on "Heritage," given some in the Cantorial establishment's horror at the way that Friedman's music has supplanted traditional Jewish cantorial music, and the 19th and 20th century explosion of complex new Jewish liturgical music that is now largely replaced by Friedman's folky, camp song approach to spirituality. That's one way of listening to her music. For most people, however, Friedman merits the award because her songs speak to them, and because they sing them! Imagine, Jewish liturgical music that almost all Jews love to sing! And in which many Jews find spiritual comfort and sustenance! Good irony here, and wonderful to honor Friedman.

From this point forward, however, the names on the awards have less and less to do with how people who know the music might hear it, and more to do with the poverty of language available to Heeb's folks to describe music. It is totally weird to hear bands like Rashanim (who certainly can claim klezmer influences) or Juez (where this claim is more than a little stretched) compared to a very straight klezmer band such as Klezmer Juice. But then, Klezmer Juice isn't a new band, either. If I were going for really hot, newish klezmer bands that have been putting out the heat to New York audiences, I would surely have found a place to mention, say, Metropolitan Klezmer, Kleztraphobix, and Isel of Klezbos. The bands that did get mentioned are all worth mentioning, but wouldn't it honor them more if there were categories for, say "traditional Klezmer" and "Radical Jewish Music" (to use the Tzadik marketing label). There is some awareness that some things are hard to categorize. Rather than include "Matisyahu," who along with "SoCalled" pretty much owns the Jewish-centric hip hop scene, he is tossed into a bucket called "New Approach". Having no understanding, I guess of what Sephardic music is, or what Sarah Aroeste is doing with that tradition, her dance-sephardic music is thrown into "best mix of jazz and tradition". That might have been a good place to put "Rashanim," mind you, but Jazz fans aren't going to find much familiar at Aroeste's concerts. Dance fans would rejoice, so if there is no way to acknowledge Sephardic traditions, this band might have fit as well in the "Best Danceable" category with Oi Va Voi. (Did I mention the lack of a Yiddish music category? Does anyone at Heeb have any idea of Yiddish beyond faux Yiddish words like "shlong"?)

Finally we come to one of the most interesting categories, "Middle Eastern music." Certainly "Pharaoh's Daughter" belongs to this category. Certain putting "Divahn" here is curious (although, given that some of the music Divahn plays comes from Middle Eastern music traditions older than Sephardic, you could kind of make that case). But then we come to "Hadag Nachash", the brilliant new Israeli pop band, a wonderful fusion of world pop music that represents the best of music played in a Middle Eastern country, but which has even less direct connection to "Middle Eastern" music than, say, Divahn. No, Dorothy, we're not in Kansas any more and when speaking of culture, "Israeli" does not necessarily equate to what most people are thinking of when they hear the term "Middle Eastern". (There is a good book to be written about Israeli pop music as representing new Middle Eastern sounds, but those new sounds have little more connection to what most people think of when referring to traditional Middle Eastern music than tin pan alley had to traditional Native American chant.)

As much as I have complained about Heeb ignoring Sephardic music as a category, there is another, even more popular category which they have ignored, and that also accounts for some odd pigeon-holing: music coming out of the Orthodox community. In addition to his hip hop cred, Matisyahu, along with a host of interesting bands playing styles ranging from bluegrass to rock to all other forms of pop music, represents an assimilation of popular music into distinctly religious culture. It isn't an area that I understand well—I don't know enough to spot the 5% worth listening to in a community in which I spend minimal time. But, surely when acknowledging what is new and noteworthy in Jewish music there is room to consider Orthodox music on its own terms, rather than to notice the occasional Orthodox artists such as Juez or Matisyahu by trying to ignore their main inspiration and pigeonhole them elsewhere.

If I sound exasperated, let me point out one very important fact. Heeb may be clueless on the specifics, but there isn't any one else thinking to recognize new Jewish music. It sure as hell isn't coming from the Jewish mainstream. So, congrats to Heeb on honoring Jewish music! Now, if next year, and in coming years, they start from some understanding of Jewish music and culture, imagine! (And even at that, I find it easier to believe that someone at Heeb will get a clue than the idea that there will be Jewish music—or other Jewish cultural honors—from other Jewish publications or institutions.

September 15, 2005

Klezmer Paris 2005, Oct 22-26

October 22-26
Klezmer workshop

Programme: Vocal, dance and instrumental workshops, masterclasses, lectures, jam sessions…

Information and registration:
Maison de la culture Yiddish ­ Bibliotheque Medem
18, passage Saint-Pierre Amelot
F-75011 PARIS
Tel. 00 33 (0)1 47 00 14 00 /Fax: 00 33 (0)1 47 00 14 47
Site: www.yiddishweb.com

Led by:
Leon Blank ­ dance
Merlin Shepherd ­ clarinet
Frank London ­ trumpet
Polina Shepherd ­ piano, song, choir
Lorin Sklamberg ­ song, accordion
Lisa Gutkind ­ fiddle
David Krakauer ­ clarinets
Josh Dolgin ­ accordion, piano, “samples”

Workshop open to all!
Courses given in French and English

Instrumentalists: accessible to anypne with sufficient mastery of his/her instrument to ba able to learn new musical specificities and new approaches in interpretation.
Singers: all singers interested in broadening their knowledge of Yiddish musical tradition.
Dancers: dancers of any levels, professional or not.
Amateurs: anyone interested in learning more about klezmer music by sitting in on sessions with leading klezmer musicians.

Full rate: 320 euros ­ Student rate (with proof of student status): 250 euros.

Information and registration:
Maison de la culture Yiddish ­ Bibliotheque Medem
18, passage Saint-Pierre Amelot
F-75011 PARIS
Tel. 00 33 (0)1 47 00 14 00 /Fax: 00 33 (0)1 47 00 14 47
Site: www.yiddishweb.com

September 11, 2005

Dona Fest/Moscow announced: March 12-17, 2006

logothe 2nd International Jewish Music festival-seminar in Moscow

DONA-FEST, March 2006

The Moscow Centre of Culture and Education "Euro-Class" announces the 2nd International Jewish Music festival-seminar "Dona-Fest, 2006" which will take place in Moscow from March 12-17, 2006.

For more information:

Center «Euro-Class», 115093, Moscow, Stremyanniy per., 33/35, Russia
call (007 095) 764-42-21 (Anatoly Pinsky)
E-mail Dona Dona Fest

"Dona Fest" will take place in some of the most prestigious concert halls in Moscow and will include appearances by the most esteemed performers of Jewish music in Russia, the CIS and the Baltic states, as well as foreign stars of Klezmer.

Along with the concert programme, "Dona Fest" will also include an International music seminar, which will be lead by the leading specialists in the field of Jewish music and culture (Klezmer music, Yiddish songs, etc.)

The seminar programme includes:

  • vocal and instrumental master classes;
  • lectures on Yiddish and Ashkenazi culture;
  • Jewish theatre and drama classes;
  • Jewish folk dance;
  • regular jam sessions;
  • round table discussions, exchanging experience and knowledge;

The teachers:

  • Grammy Award nominee and world famous Yiddish singer Adrianne Cooper (USA),
  • Former musical director of the Royal National Theatre and The Shakespeare "Globe" theatre, one of the leading performers of traditional Klezmer music Merlin Shepherd (Great Britain),
  • Founder of "The flying Bulgar Klezmer Band", composer and a famous jazz pianist Marylin Lerner (Canada),
  • Leading European Jewish choir teacher and composer Polina Shepherd (Great Britain),
  • European klezmer violin virtuosi Stas Rayko and Mark Kovnatsky (Germany),
  • Drama art teacher and a popular Russian Jewish singer and actress Alina Ivakh (Russia).

Costs for participation:

  • $200 for Russian and CIS citizens
  • $550 for citizens of other countries
  • $100 for Moscow residents (just seminar program)

(The cost includes full tuition: accommodation, meals and the seminar programme).

Participants pay for their own transportation. The organizing committee has a limited amount of free places (scholarships), which based on the decision of the assesment panel and available funds will be awarded to the most active figures in Jewish culture, as well as those for whom the full tuition might be a financial burden.

Free places will also be given to honoured guests and teachers. A system of partial/full payment for especially talented applicants who are not able to pay for participation in "Dona Fest" will be set aside in the "Dona Fest" scholarship fund.

Attendance of the festival's concerts must be paid for by all participants of the seminar. The festival has limited capacity. Candidates for participation must fill out an application and send it to the organizing committee (form enclosed), along with (for instrumentalists and singers) samples of their material in any audio or video format in advance.

Application forms (online at www.dona-dona.ru) are admitted till 01/03/06. The organizing committee will not consider any applications received after the indicated date. The organizing committee will announce its decision not later than 15/03/06.

For more information:

Center «Euro-Class», 115093, Moscow, Stremyanniy per., 33/35, Russia
call (007 095) 764-42-21 (Anatoly Pinsky)
E-mail Dona Dona Fest.

Josh Dolgin interview: The Walrus

If, like most of us, you are fascinated and excited by DJ Socalled's work, you won't want to miss the current issue of the Canadian arts and culture magazine, "The Walrus": Jew Funk, "Josh Dolgin, a.k.a. Socalled, is Montreal's leading mixer of klezmer and hip hop" by David Coodin with files from Sharon Drache

Jewish musicians sought for Katrina benefit in Seattle

Play at a Katrina fundraiser in Seattle, please! Jewish musicians (guitar players, cantorial soloists, anyone else we can think of...)are attempting to organize a show on Sunday, Sept 25 at 7:00, probably at downtown Temple DeHirsch/Sinai. It would be great to have a Klez presence! Email Emily Katcher or call 206-780-0795

Update on Hatikvah Music

Will the eviction of Hatikvah Music succeed? Michael Makiri notes this article from the Jewish Week on progress since the gentrification of the store's neighborhood in LA was first made public.

You can read the Jewish Week article here: There goes the neighborhood by Liel Leibovitz, in the Jewish Week, 9 Sep 2005.

September 6, 2005

Majer Bogdanski, z"l

Itzik Gottesman writes to the Jewish-Music mailing list:

I have to report the sad news that Majer Bogdanski died on Sunday, Sept 4 at the age of 93 (approx). A wonderful singer, composer, yiddish cultural leader in London. Others on the list who knew him better can write with more detail about his life and work. Er zol hobn a likhtikn gan-eydn - itzik

lovely portrait and decent typeMajer, who was born in Poland, but lived most of his life in the UK was credited as a source in the amazing 2000 Budowitz album, ">Wedding without a Bride. He was less successfully recorded in a CD released in the UK, "">Yiddish Songs—Yidish lider in that same year. As a mensh of the highest order, as a worker, union organizer, teacher, a canter and as a singer he will be missed by all who knew him.

September 5, 2005

"Youngers of Zion" at the National Yiddish Book Center

cheesy cheesy cheesyI just wanted to extend some props to the Youngers of Zion who delivered a thoroughly enjoyable set at the National Yiddish Book Center yesterday. It was a delightful day to be in Western Massachusetts, and my first chance to see the band perform live.

I hadn't really considered what a unique set of strengths the group brings to the stage. Cookie, of course, is one of the world's great klezmer violinists. Henry is a wonderful storyteller and has a repertoire ranging from wonderful vaudeville ("I am a border by my wife," "Levine and his flying machine") to hasidic folk songs. Rubin, of course, holds it all together with impressive bass playing, swapped out with tuba. The result is as heimish and fun an afternoon as you could want.

I also enjoyed the band's CD, Protocols, but this was live.

the KlezKanada weblog is on

klezkanada logoIt took me a week to get started, but that figures. Attend any intensive week with klezmorim and it takes a while to readjust. But I'm now running the KlezKanada weblog. New listings will be posted each day to parallel the original event two weeks ago. You can follow the action and add your own comments at www.klezmershack.com/klezkanada/kk05

September 3, 2005

Mike Eisenstadt, z"l

Mike EisenstadtIn today's Tampa, Florida, Tribune, there is an obituary for Mike Eisenstadt, long-time Jewish radio host, long-time klezmer clarinetist, long-time participant of the Jewish-Music mailing list, and of course, long-time activist in the Tampla, FL Jewish community and federation.

CD coverMike Eisenstadt

Mike had been fighting cancer for a couple of years, although, ever looking towards life, he found time and energy to record an excellent klezmer album (Chazak! / The Mike Eisenstadt Band) just last year. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Congregation Kol-Ami, LifePath Hospice, The Jewish National Fund or to The Caring Bridge at www.caringbridge.org.

September 2, 2005

Alan Watsky's comments on KlezKanada

klezkanada logoRokhl Kafriesen, a columnist for the Jewish Currents (among other accomplishments) blogs Alan Watsky's comments to the Jewish-Music list about KlezKanada: Rhapsody in Jew—Watsky on KlezKanada