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Yiddish Song Festival, Cape Town, South Africa, Aug 12, 2007

The 7th Annual Leah Todres Yiddish Song Festival takes place in Cape Town, South Africa on 12 August 2007. The title this year is Sholem, Sholem Songs from the Heart. There will be two performances at 5pm and 7.30pm at the Baxter Theatre Centre and as always it will be a toe-tapping and joyous celebration of song!

for further info: PHILIP TODRES
Direct Tel/Fax: (021) 685 7464 Cell: (083) 783 1003

Cape Town is proud of the team of talented and dedicated performers, musicians, director, teachers and researchers that make it possible to stage a wonderful and different show each year. The audience keeps expanding as rave reviews convince the younger people that it's not music for the older generation only, or confined to Jewish interest.

In fact the publicity got under way with a one-hour presentation on Fine Music Radio—the local classic and jazz broadcaster focusing on Eastern European Music and Yiddish Song. World Cafe is a weekly program presented by Sylvia Bruinders, a music ethnicologist based at the University of Cape Town, Dept of Music. Together with Fay Singer, also a music ethniclogist at that university, and Dragana Jevtovic, a singer originally from Belgrade, they took the audience on a fascinating journey, which also contextualized Jewish song and Klezmer music.

Fay Singer is the mavin who contributes to researching the repertoire each year (see bio below). Dragana Jevtovic will be the guest artist at the 2007 Yiddish Festival. She has a degree in music from the University of Belgrade and although not Jewish, sang with a Jewish Choir for 10 years (see bio below).

The artists in "Sholem Sholem / Songs from the Heart" are Aviva Pelham and Beverly Chiat, who are both professionally trained and accomplished artistes. They are joined by Ivor Joffe and David Gordon. (Bios of each below)

Each year students from Herzlia, the Jewish Day School, enthusiastically get involved. The choir of children, between 7 to 10 years old, under the direction of Sandy Segal, make a spirited and charming appearance. They have now developed an extensive repertoire of songs and have gained their own slot, when they perform in the lobby pre the show. Over the past few years, a talented corps of grade 6 and some teens have been formed into the Herzlia Ensemble. These wonderfully gifted and spirited young people are great performers and invariably bring the house down.

Matthew Reid and Fay Singer are the Musical Directors a role they have played since inception. Matthew Reid is the director of the Playing With Fire Klezmer Band, who provided the essential accompaniment. The whole production is magically pulled together by Irma Kesler, who is in charge of staging.

So if you are in Cape Town on 12 August, come along and enjoy nostalgic favourites that will tug at the heartstrings, touch your soul and tickle your funny bone. The Yiddish Song Festival is a true celebration of life, in the universal language of song. And off course it is in aid of the CJSA the Cape Jewish Seniors Association, with its mission of Adding Life to Years.

Fay Singer's intimate knowledge and love of Yiddish Song is invaluable. Together with Matthew Reid she has contributes to developing evocative programs for each festival. Fay Singer has established the South African Jewish Music Centre, which is affiliated to the Jewish Music Institute, University of London. She is currently at UCT College of Music, completing work on her Doctorate.

Born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, Dragana Jevtovic obtained her BA Mus (Hons), specialising in the vocal arts (opera, oratorio and solo song) at the Belgrade Faculty of Music Arts. She sang at concerts throughout that country as well as in the USA (including Carnegie Hall) and in Europe, and has recorded for Yugoslavian Radio and Television. She has been very active both in the performing and visual arts since her move to Cape Town in 1993 and recently she has focused on her native Balkan folk music. As a member Playing with Fire she performed at the Balkanology concerts, Cultivaria Festival and KKNK 2007.

Aviva Pelham has been exceptionally busy directing, teaching and tirelessly working for many worthy outreach projects. She has appeared as soloist in Rotary Pops, Divine Divas, Summer School, Queen at the Ballet, Navy Band at Dry Dock, Aviva & Friends, Every Woman Deserves an Oscar and Viva the Voices. Multi award winner in opera, operettas, musicals, oratorio and cabaret here and in Israel, Paris and London. Aviva was nominated for Woman of Worth, Jewish Achievers and awarded Paul Harris Rotary Fellow Award. She holds a M.Mus degree, is a part time lecturer at the UCT Opera School and is involved with Motor Neurone Disease Assoc, St Lukes, FMR 101.3, Ikamva Labantu, M?dala Fund and C T Opera.

Beverley Chiat has been appearing professionally since 1995 after completing her studies at UCT Opera School. Post-graduate studies took her to England where she received the prestigious Peter Moores Foundation bursary, and many important awards and prizes locally. Beverley has appeared as soloist in opera, oratorios, recitals and concerts throughout SA and abroad, in an ever broadening repertoire. She has recently performed with the KZNPO in the "Bravissimo Opera Highlights" at the Durban Playhouse Theatre as well as with the CTPO in the Commemoration of Mozart Concerts and the Mozart C minor Mass at the Cape Town City Hall.

Ivor Joffe has served as Cantor and Choirmaster to the United Orthodox Hebrew Congregation in Cape Town, and at the North Eastern Jewish War Memorial Centre and Mizrachi Shuls in Melbourne. An accomplished solo artist, he has performed at many simchas, concerts and communal events in South Africa and Australia, and Jewish Music Festivals in Israel, England and the USA. Currently he is the Cantor of the Green & Sea Point Hebrew Congregation and co-ordinates the Jewish Music Programme for the United Herzlia Schools. Ivor trains the young stars of the Herzlia Ensemble.

David Gordon is presently choirmaster at the Green and Sea Point Hebrew Congregation. David has been singing in Shul choirs for 25 years. He has performed in many community musicals and has been involved in the Yiddish Song Festival since 2002.

Musical Director of the Yiddish Song Festival for the seventh year, Matthew Reid started the Simcha Klezmer and Playing with Fire Klezmer Band in 1999. An award winning clarinetist, his interest in Klezmer music was sparked by Israeli folk musician Giora Feidman. He attended the London Klezfest in 2003. Recently he performed Osvaldo Golijov's "The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind" for Klezmer clarinet with the Sontonga String Quartet for the CT Concert Series and Grahamstown Festival. He was invited to the 2007 Grahamstown Festival to perform on the Main Stage Program

Irma Kesler has a Licentiate in Speech & Drama. She started her first school in Johannesburg. In Cape Town since 1970, she continues to run a school, now boasting three full time teachers. She has been involved in staging numerous shows to help raise funds for Jewish organisations. Most recently she staged the hilarious Purim Wedding Shpiel for the CJSA. Irma Kesler's professional input has been an inspiration in the realisation of the festival each year.

The program for the 2007 Yiddish Song Festival will be posted shortly.

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