The brochure contains the faculty, highlights, workshops, and FULL daily schedule of events.
Download by clicking on the cover image!
Our featured artist this year will be Josh Dolgin, aka SoCalled. Enough praise cannot be sung about Josh. Touring with his own bands and projects, with David Krakauer, as a soloist, singer, composer, DJ, magician: Josh is doing it all.
You can also browse our entire list of classes, workshops, and performance opportunities on offer this summer right here online! Please click on the course title for the full description.
Our 2014 faculty list is almost complete and is online! Check out this outstanding group of teachers, performers, and lecturers here!
KlezKanada is proud to present the Japanese band, Jinta-la-Mvta, a musical group founded in 2004 by Ohkuma Wataru, clarinetist and bandleader of the groundbreaking Japanese experimental folk band Cicala Mvta and his partner and drummer Kogure Miwazo.
Ohkuma’s interest in Klezmer music began in the late 80s. He was one of the first Japanese artists who listened to and played the genre. He has a repertoire of dozens of Klezmer tunes through his distinct perspective, setting him apart among non-Jewish klezmer musicians. Considered as one of the few Klezmer experts in Japan, he has also penned various pieces on Klezmer and Japanese liner notes of Klezmatics and Frank London. Since the Great Northeast Japan Earthquake and the subsequent nuclear crises in 2011, the band started to perform not only on club stages and festivals but also at anti-nuclear protests and demonstrations on the streets of Tokyo, attracting a new and wide range of audiences and fans.
Jinta-la-Mvta is: Wataru Okuma (clarinet) Miwazo Kogure (chindon, percussion) Naoki Hishinuma (tuba) Marié Abe (accordion)
Klezmer pioneer and accordion wizard Alan Bern returns to KlezKanada, bringing together an all-star band of Jewish music luminaries (including Lorin Sklamberg, lead singer of the legendary Klezmatics; KlezKanada favorites Sasha Lurje and Daniel Kahn; violin virtuoso Mark Kovnatsky, and others) to showcase an almost forgotten side of the ‘Golden Age of Jewish music’ – the Jewish songs recorded in 1930’s Berlin, Germany by Hirsch Lewin on his Semer label. SEMER ReLOADED has brought this amazing music back to life with their critically acclaimed concerts throughout Europe. 70 years after the Holocaust, the rich legacy of Berlin’s Jewish music scene as documented on the Semer label can be passed on to present and future generations. SEMER ReLOADED will also allow us to meet and learn with master of Yiddish thieves’ songs, Fabian Schnedler, and improv wizard and Tzadik recording artist, Paul Brody.
1920s Berlin, a Golden Age of Jewish music and musicians. In this milieu we find Hirsch Lewin, formerly a forced laborer conscripted to Germany from his native Vilnius during World War I. After the war, Lewin decided to remain in Berlin, found work in a bookstore, and in 1932 created his own record label, “Semer”. One year later, the Nazis came to power, forbidding Jewish musicians to perform in non-Jewish settings. Semer became a Noah’s Ark for Jewish musicians who had nowhere else to go. For five years, Lewin mad recordings at a feverish pace, creating a precious time capsule of a world facing annihilation. On November 9, 1938, SA hordes attacked the Hebräische Buchhandlung, demolishing stock and store, including 4,500 recordings and 250 metal plates. The memory of the Semer label fell into oblivion for the next 60 years.
In 2012, the Berlin Jewish Museum commissions Alan Bern to create an ensemble to perform music based on the original Semer recordings, copies of which had miraculously been found scattered throughout the world. The Semer Ensemble’s depth and virtuosity can and does match the entire breadth of Hirsch Lewin’s original Semer label recordings. Its fresh interpretations and provocative, contemporary arrangements open a time tunnel between 1920s Berlin and today’s New Jewish Music: Berlin cabaret, Russian folk songs, Yiddish theater hits, operatic arias and cantorial music are just a small sample of this remarkable repertoire.
Alan Bern (director, piano, accordion) Paul Brody (trumpet) Daniel Kahn (voice, ukulele, accordion) Mark Kovnatskiy (violin) Martin Lillich (bass) Sasha Lurje (voice) Fabian Schnedler (voice, electric guitar) Lorin Sklamberg (voice, accordion)
SEMER ReLOADED’s participation at KlezKanada is made possible in cooperation with the Ashkenaz! Festival.
Our 2017 brochure is now available as a downloadable PDF!
Printed copies will be distributed at KlezKanada to participants.
You can also view our complete programming online – easy to sort and filter by interest, time, and day. Click on any record to expand and view the full record. To view the programming spreadsheet full-screen, click on “View larger version” in the bottom right hand corner of the spreadsheet. You may also sort or filter the records by area or level. All programming is subject to change.
Announcing the theme for KlezKanada 2014…
Yiddish is Undead: The Mystical and Supernatural in Ashkenazic Jewish Folklore and Practice
“Yiddish isn’t dead; if anything, it’s undead. Think about it: Is there anything more unkillable, vaguely erotic, ridiculous, and toothy than the language of the Ashkenazim?” – Josh Lambert, Tablet Magazine
Join us for a week of extraordinary programing with talks, workshops, concerts, and dancing!
The theme for KlezKanada 2015 will be di tsukunft, with a focus on Poland and on Y.L. Peretz. Di tsukunft, Yiddish for ‘the future’, historically was the name of both the Youth wing of the Bund (formally called Yugnt-bund “Tsukunft” in poyln – ‘Youth Bund ‘the Future’ in Poland’) and of the world’s oldest Yiddish literary journal. We celebrate our 20th year by simultaneously looking ahead and at our past. The history of the Jews in Poland is so large, complex and intertwined with the history of Poland itself that an entire museum opened this year to tell the story. 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the passing of Y.L. Peretz, z’l’, the great poet, writer, playwright, awakener of Yiddish speaking Jews, instigator of the will for self-emancipation and resistance. His extraordinary, radical work and multi-faceted work will inspire KlezKanada 2015.
Our music faculty in 2015 will include many of our favorite teachers, including Shura Lipovsky, The Klezmatics, Lorin Sklamberg, Suzanna Ghergus and Fima Chorny. Mark your calendars for KlezKanada 2015!
“The marble not yet carved can hold the form of every thought the greatest artist has.” – Michelangelo
The Middle Ages are over… The Renaissance is here and Enlightenment is not far ahead! So grab your lutes, gauntlets, tunics, and gowns, because the theme for KlezKanada 2017 is Yiddish Renaissance.
In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, the world of Yiddish culture and music experienced a rebirth throughout North American and into Europe that became known as the Klezmer Revival. “Archaic things come back,” says Hankus Netsky. “ The blues came back; And the same thing eventually happened when our generation came of age and said, “Wait a minute. What Happened? Where’s our folk music?” (The Essential Klezmer, Seth Rogovoy)
This summer we will celebrate that renaissance. In 1981 the Klezmer Conservatory band released its first album, Yiddishe Renaissance, and in honor of its 36th year anniversary, we are happy to have KCB band members Hankus Netsky, Ilene Stahl, Judy Bressler, Grant Smith and Jim Guttmann join us at KlezKanada.
We are also thrilled to welcome back KlezKanada veteran and revivalist extraordinaire Peter Sokolow. Cookie Seigelstein, Joshua Horowitz and Stuart Brotman of Veretski Pass will also be returning this summer. Stay tuned for more programming updates in the coming weeks and months.
Whether you are joining us for the week or just for one day, our 2013 concert line-up is sure to amaze! Join us for a week of afternoon and evening concerts, dancing, and celebration….
Seminars and Master Classes will be led by Professor of Lingual Mixology, renowned Canadian Poet and Cultural Theorist, Adeena Karasick, and Chief of the Discordant Talmudic Crisis, poet and performer Jake Marmer. Sessions will include a combination of lectures, discussions, one-on-one faculty time, and solo writing time. A portion of each morning will focus on creating a polyvocal performance that will be showcased at the end of the week….
500 year after the opening of the world’s first ‘ghetto’ – the Jewish ghetto in Venice was established in 1516 – KlezKanada looks at the reality and the idea of ghettos, Jewish and others. ‘Ghetto’ is a highly charged word and concept, fraught with multiple meanings and associations. The Venetian Jewish ghetto was both a separation and an integration, an opening and a closing off, liberation and restriction. Max Weinreich, in his paper “The Reality of Jewishness versus the Ghetto Myth” asserted that “without a separate community there is no separate language,” to which we add ‘or separate culture, music, cuisine, identity.’ Ghetto as incubator of culture and identity; ghetto(s) as historical and contemporary reality.
On this, the 100th yortsayt of the most beloved classical Yiddish writer, Sholem Aleichem (1859 – 1916, born Sholem Rabinovitz in Pereyaslav, Ukraine), KlezKanada will look at the man, his work and his world. Sholem Aleichem’s will contained detailed instructions to family and friends with regard to marking his yortsayt, telling friends to gather together, “select one of my stories, one of the very merry ones, and recite it in whatever language is most intelligible to you. Let my name be recalled with laughter,” he said, “or not at all.”
Over the years, KlezKanada has looked at many of the important areas where klezmer music formed, and the way musics and cultures intersect. The connection between Yiddish klezmer and Turkish music is frequently mentioned anecdotally, as in this Wikipedia entry: “Klezmer music’s roots are Eastern European, often Romanian and Moldavian with Greek and Turkish influences;” or Josh Horowitz’s course description for Grand Theft Ottoman: “Kandel’s Freylekhs Fun der Khupe is also a Crimean tune, the Heyser Tatar is a Khaitama dance in 7/16, and Brandwein’s Araber dance was played as a Greek Zeibekiko.” Zev Feldman is more nuanced. “By the eighteenth century, klezmorim were also prominent in Ottoman Moldavia, particularly in the capital, Iasi (Yash). Some klezmer lineages persisted for a century or more, such as the Lemisches of Iasi and the Beltsi in Moldavia, first documented in the mid-eighteenth century, who spread to Istanbul, Beirut, and Athens—and to Philadelphia in the United States.” (Note: KlezKanada trombone instructor Rachel Lemisch is a descendant of this important klezmer family.) The list of contemporary artists melding Yiddish and Turkish music is a long one, including Jason Rosenblatt & Shtreiml, Merlin Shepherd, Christian Dawid’s Trio YAS, and many more. We will give this fascinating subject a more focused investigation, looking at both history and contemporary practice.
The application for the 2017 KlezKanada Youth Scholarship Program is now online!
Every year, KlezKanada’s Summer Institute provides interdisciplinary youth scholarships for emerging artists and scholars, ages 16 to 35. This internationally renowned program offers students an opportunity to study with many of the leading teachers of Yiddish/Jewish music and culture, and make friends and form artistic partnerships that will last a lifetime. Often graduating to positions on KlezKanada’s faculty, our scholarship students carry their art and expertise worldwide, becoming the innovative culture makers and teachers of the new Yiddish/Jewish world of today and tomorrow.
More information can be found at klezkanada.org/scholarships.
Apply by May 1st.
Der Groyser Kontsert Internationale is the not-to-be missed klezmer event of the year. Featuring 17 of the world’s leading Jewish music instrumentalists and Yiddish song interpreters, from Hungary, the US, France, Israel, the UK,the Netherlands, Russia and Canada, this is authentic Eastern-European soul music straight out of old Bukhovina. With the scintillating vocals of Shura Lipovsky (NL), the quirky multi-national quartet the Brothers Nazaroff (DE/US/RU/HU), the ever charming local-boy-hero Josh Dolgin (CA) and the Klezmatics’ Lorin Sklamberg (US), this thrilling lineup of art song singers, clarinet virtuosi, Yiddish troubadours and brass-band mavens is sure to have you scissor-kicking in the aisles and all in benefit of the KlezKanada Scholarship Program.
Presented by The Segal Centre and KlezKanada
Featuring: Josh Dolgin, Shtreiml and Fanfare Severni
Celebrate the Festival of Lights in style with a concert featuring some of the finest performers on the new Jewish music scene. Join Josh Dolgin, the extraordinary mind behind Socalled, Montreal’s blues infused klezmer outfit Shtreiml and super brass band fantasteek! Fanfare Severni as they romp through a rep- ertoire of holiday classics, klezmer dance tunes and original barn burners. Special guests include Berlin’s clarinet maven Christian Dawid and Montreal’s mother of yiddish folk song Abigail Rosenbaltt. Chanukah surprises abound.
Tickets: 514-739-7944 or www.segalcentre.org
Une grande soirée festive de Hanoukah!
Présenté par le Centre Segal et KlezKanada
Avec Josh Dolgin, Shtreiml et Fanfare Severni
Célébrez le Festival des lumières avec classe, en assistant à un concert réunissant quelques-uns des meilleurs inter- prètes de la nouvelle scène musicale juive! Joignez-vous à Josh Dolgin, la personnalité extraordinaire qui se cache der- rière Socalled, au groupe montréalais de musique klezmer teintée de blues Shtreiml et à la super et fantastique Fanfare Severni, qui joueront avec entrain tout un répertoire de clas- siques du temps des Fêtes, de musiques de danse klezmer et de succès originaux. Des invités spéciaux seront de la fête, comme le virtuose berlinois de la clarinette Christian Dawid et la mère de la musique folklorique Yiddish à Montréal, Abigail Rosenbaltt. Chanukah ne manque pas de surprises!
Billets: 514-739-7944 ou www.segalcentre.org
At KlezKanada 2016, we were joined by Daveed Goldman, one of the founders of the tremendously popular Choir!Choir!Choir! Daveed led his arrangement of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, with a new Yiddish translation by Daniel Kahn. Now, through our video, you can experience the event again!
“Halleluja” composed by Leonard Cohen
Yiddish Translation – Dan Kahn
Arrangement/Director – Choir!Choir!Choir! Daveed Goldman
Performers – die gantse 2016 klezkanada mishpokhe
Sound engineer – Bruno Paquin
First camera and video edit – Magdalena Hutter
Second camera – Jespa Kleinfeld
Sound engineer post-production – Christopher McDonald
Recorded at KlezKanada’s Laurentian Retreat, 2016
Beyond the Mekhitse!
Wednesday Night at the Laurentian Retreat
The boys used to make fun of me, but I played better than them all — Elaine Hoffman Watts z”l
Ten female artists come to together to create new traditions and pathways in klezmer music. Fronted by trumpet virtuoso Susan Watts, this new super group features many of today’s leading klezmer musicians including Ilene Stahl (clarinet), Alicia Svigals and Deborah Strauss (violin), Adrianne Greenbaum (flute), Lauren Brody (accordion), Marilyn Lerner (piano), Rachel Lemisch (trombone), Jordan Morton (bass) and Lorie Wolf (drums). Featuring new compositions by the band members and reimagined traditional music, this special concert pays tribute to women klezmorim past and present.
Each year, we have the opportunity to feature faculty members who have created new work, or who are at KlezKanada’s Laurentian Retreat for the first time. Here are a selection of the concerts that will be presented at KlezKanada 2014.
An all-star evening of Yiddish song and music as part of THE DORA WASSERMAN YIDDISH THEATRE’S The New Jewish Scene
March 26, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.
at the Segal Centre
Tickets: ($28 – $20)
Available on-line at
or by phone at (514) 739-7944
Join this wonderful group of musicians, all former KlezKanada scholarship recipients, including So-Called (Josh Dolgin/ voice, accordion), Sarah Gordon (voice), Michael Winograd (clarinet), Rachel Lemisch (trombone) and Joel Kerr (bass) as they interpret the music of Dave Tarras, Mickey Katz, Aaron Lebedeff, Moishe Oysher, and many more. The evening will commence with the music of Ihtimanska featuring enchanting melodies of the Balkans with Yoni Kaston (accordion) and Ariane Morin (Saxophone).
The deadline to apply for the 2016 KlezKanada Scholarship Program is fast approaching! Apply now to experience this life-changing program.
A masterful performer, singer, actor, raconteur and author, Mr. Bikel died in Los Angeles on July 21st at the age of 91. The concert will celebrate his life and career, presenting the most highly acclaimed musicians on the international Jewish music scene. Endlessly inspired by his life and work, and his kindness and generosity of spirit, we are honoured that Theodore Bikel considered himself part of the KlezKanada family. It is appropriate that the Groyser Kontsert benefit the KlezKanada Scholarship Fund.
“A place of learning, a place of teaching, a place of listening, of playing, of singing, of giving and receiving – that is what KlezKanada has come to mean to me. More important, it is a place of Yiddish song, poetry, and humor and a place of unforced Yiddishkayt. KlezKanada may be only one week out of the year but one takes away from it a sense of belonging, a sense of family with a song that lasts through winter and spring.” – Theodore Bikel
Born in May of 1924, the legendary Theodore Bikel led a unique career spanning over seven decades. An Academy Award nominee and Emmy Award winner, he is perhaps best known as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, a role he performed on stage over 2,000 times. As a folksinger and storyteller he recorded over 30 albums and captivated audiences on virtually every continent. A true Renaissance Man, he viewed his work and life in terms of survival, saying, “You must explore your roots in the past in order to pinpoint your place in the present or to be entitled to a future.”
The extraordinary, one night only, line up includes Grammy award-winning klezmer supergroup The Klezmatics; Montreal’s own Yiddish hip-hop sensation Josh Dolgin (aka Socalled); New York’s finest post-war klezmer tribute band The Tarras Band; the golden-voiced Shura Lipovsky from The Netherlands; pioneers of the post-Soviet klezmer renaissance, Efim Chorney and Suzanne Ghergus of Moldova; and Yiddish author and bon vivant Michael Wex as MC.
Oscar Peterson Hall 7141 Sherbrooke St. West, Montreal, QC
TICKETS: $50 orchestra and balcony / $36 mezzanine + taxes; service charges may apply
Available through Admission.com at 1-855-790-1245; or at the door
We are thrilled to welcome first-time faculty members and master musicians Ethel Raim, Moussa (Moshe) Berlin, Cantor Aaron ben Soussan, and Lauren Brody. And, we’ll enthusiastically welcome the return of Alan Bern and Veretski Pass to our teaching faculty.
A mixed media exhibition on the history and the present of the Jewish Quarter of Budapest
Zita Mara Vadász, curator 585,000 m2 proposes a dialogue about the symbolic spaces found in the Jewish Quarter of the 7th district in Budapest through visual art statements from the pre-World War 2 period to the present. The title is a reference to the surface area of the Quarter, a dense urban neighborhood overflowing with signifiers of cultural, religious and social life. Nine buildings were selected to explore three important aspects of Jewish life: the sacred spaces, public places and local businesses.
The exhibition is a mix of archival and contemporary photographs, a musical piece, composed exclusively for this show and individual video works by nine young Hungarian artists who reflect upon the select buildings aiming to research and relate their stories and their functions. The contributors, coming from diverse personal and artistic backgrounds, used different scenarios and artistic strategies in their works, expressing their own cultural and personal memories in this project.
The exhibition invites the audience to step into the Quarter which – through the past decade – has transformed itself enormously to become the bright spot it is today, which helped forming the identity and character of a new generation that includes the artists of this exhibition.
Participating artists: Zsuzsi Flohr, Zsófia Szemző, Márton Szirmai, Dániel Halász, István Illés, Levente Csordás in collaboration with Airplan X Kickass Factory, Balázs Varju Tóth, Mátyás Csiszár, Milán Kopasz along with Csaba Kalotás (music) and Éva Szombat (photography).
Curated by Andrea Ausztrics, scholar and media artist and Zita Mara Vadász, curator, Balassi Institute – Hungarian Cultural Center, New York.
Presented by Balassi Institute-Hungarian Cultural Center in association with Tom Lantos Institute, the Consulate General of Hungary in New York, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, the Hungarian National Tourist Office in New York.
Last month, B.C.’s Simon Fraser University announced the life work of Canadian writer and poet Adeena Karasick would be added to its Bennett Library Contemporary Literature Collection. The collection focuses on 20th century avant-garde, experimental, formally innovative and “underground” writing in English, most of it poetry. Karasick was a great fit, according to Tony Power, curator of the collection. “Her language is intensely playful and she’s very much a media and performance artist,” he reflected. “We wanted her work because she’s closely associated with a lot of the poets we’ve collected including Warren Tallman, her mentor at the University of British Columbia, and bill bissett.”
Karasick is co-founder of the KlezKanada Poetry Retreat.
Read about it in the Canadian Jewish News: JEWISH POET ADEENA KARASICK’S WORK ADDED TO SFU SPECIAL COLLECTIONS
Karasick is a New York based, Canadian poet, cultural theorist, media ecologist and author of seven books of poetry and poetics; a multimedia arts practitioner with work that includes videopoems, live and recorded pechakucha regularly screened at festivals, conferences and in classrooms worldwide. Born in 1965, in Winnipeg Manitoba, to Russian immigrant parents, she became dedicated to the play of language as a powerful tool for transformation and change.Writing at the intersection of Conceptualism and neo-Fluxus performatics, her urban, Jewish feminist mashups have been described as “electricity in language” (Nicole Brossard) and noted for their “cross-fertilization of punning and knowing, theatre and theory” (Charles Bernstein) “a twined virtuosity of mind and ear which leaves the reader deliciously lost in Karasick’s signature “syllabic labyrinth” (Craig Dworkin). Most recently is Salome: Woman of Valor (University of Padova Press, 2017), the libretto of the opera she has created with Frank London, which rereads the apocryphal legend through a feminist Kabbalistic lens; transposing her from villainess to freedom fighter, and will debut at the Chutzpah Festival, February, 2018.
Karasick grew up in Vancouver, BC where she studied with Warren Tallman at UBC received her BA in English (1988) and moved to Toronto to work, study and perform with poets, bill bissett and bpNichol. Receiving her MA from York University (1991), and a Ph.D in Kabbalah and Derrida at Concordia University (Montreal), and enjoyed a close friendship with Jacques Derrida for the 10 years prior to his death. Her doctoral dissertation, “Of Poetik Thinking: A ‘Pataphysical Investigation of Cixous, Derrida and the Kabbalah” established her as a foremost Kabbalah scholar, recently cited as the “Kabbalah Kohenet (High Priestess), morah (teacher) and scholar” (Stephen Pickering, Kabbalah Fractals Project). Karasick went on to publish 8 books that incorporate these teachings and a love of language, and has been the generous recipient of numerous awards and grants including Canada Council for the Arts Grant for Professional Writers (2010), Canada Council for the Arts, Spoken Word and Storytelling Program Award (2010, 2008, 1999), Canada Council for the Arts Travel Awards (2011, 2009, 2008, 2003, 2002), Canadian External Affairs Award (1998, 1997, 1994, 1993, 1992), Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Award, for Amuse Bouche (2006), for The House That Hijack Built, (2005, 2004), Best Book of 2012, Daily Forward for This Poem (2012), Best Book of 2009 for Amuse Bouche (AboutBooks.com), Exuberance is Beauty Book Award for Amuse Bouche, 2009, ReLit Award for Dyssemia Sleaze, 2000, Bumbershoot Book Fair Award, “Most Adventurous Publication” for Dyssemia Sleaze, 2000, British Columbia Book Award (Silver) for Mêmewars (1994), and in 2008, at Book Expo America, received the MPS Mobile Award (For being the World’s First “Mobile Poet”), whereby her work was made available on over 4 billion mobile devices (cell phones and Smart Phones including the iPhone, all Blackberry, Android and Symbian devices) throughout the world, 2008. She is a 2016 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Award recipient and winner of the 2016 Voce Donna Italia award for her contributions to feminist thinking. For the past 30 years she has taught at a number of American and European Institutions, including Fordham University, St. John’s University, and at the Gutenberg Universität Mainz as “The Mainz Scholar”. She is presently Visiting Assistant Professor at Pratt Institute in New York, and is the Poetry Co-coordinator for Klezkanada Poetry Retreat, an International Festival for Language, Music and Culture, held in the Laurentian Mountains. Her books have been received as both poetry and hybrid-genre essays on writing and interpretive technologies, and have been adopted in both English and Media Studies Departments, including University of Minnesota, University of Pennsylvania, Simon Fraser University, McGill University, the Ontario College of Art and Design, Rutgers University, The Gutenberg Universität Mainz and Bath Spa University in the UK. In them, she brings an urban, feminist aesthetic, infused with a collage of academic and pop cultural idioms to bear on the process of writing as a radical grafting of links and perversions conjugated at the threshold of dissociation, questioning many consumerist assumptions about language and normative procedures of meaning production.Karasick’s work has been featured in a wide variety of national and international journals, anthologies and blog sites, has been the subject of over 80 interviews (on television, radio and in print) and “inserts itself amongst the corpus of texts that are changing, and being changed by, contemporary pedagogies” (Canadian Literature).Her large-scale performance, Salomé: Woman of Valor, incorporating, poetry, history, theory, visual projections Klezmer-Bhangra live music (compositions by Frank London), and Tribal Belly Dancers, which re-visions the Apocryphal story of Salomé through a feminist perspective debuted at the Tribeca New Music Festival in May of this year in New York to a wildly receptive sold out audience. Stemming from an ethnic heritage of nomadicism, exile, and infusion, Karasick remains dedicated to extending the notion of the book – whether through hybrid-style essays which include full-color mash-ups and collage, a variety of typefaces and multiple covers, or through new technologies which combine, multi-media, enriched graphics; or text based performances, incorporating visual projections and electronic music; exploring ways language, as both a physical and material object and as medium of transference can be brought into a public space highlighting interactive creativity. In this last year alone, Karasick has given hundreds of public lectures and performances, including presentations at the Institute of General Semantics, the 74th New York State Communication Association Conference, the Electronic Literature Organization Conference and Media Art Festival 2016 at the University of Victoria, Victoria, BC., the 74th Annual New York State Communication Association Conference, the 17th Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association, University of Pennsylvania, University of Bologna, DISCI (Dipartmento Storia Culture Civiltà), Bologna, Italy; the annual meeting of the Media Ecology Association, the annual meeting of the New York State Communication Association, and Book Expo America 2016, recognizing her as being “the future of E-Books.” (Kathleen Sweeney); opening up the possibilities for re-visoning language as a performance, as theatre, and how that language, with all its power and sublimity, its (in)finite permutation and combination, is inseparable from our lives. She teaches for the Humanities and Media Studies Dept. at Pratt University in New York.
Congratulations to one of our 2017 Featured Faculty, Mark Slobin, on his election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences!
For the first time, Mark will be joining us at KlezKanada! Mark’s writings and studies on Eastern European Jewish and Afghani music traditions have been celebrated for decades.
Mark Slobin is the Winslow-Kaplan Professor of Music at Wesleyan University and the author or editor of many books, on Afghanistan and Central Asia, eastern European Jewish music, film music, and ethnomusicology theory, two of which have received the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award: “Fiddler on the Move: Exploring the Klezmer World” and “Tenement Songs: Popular Music of the Jewish Immigrants.” He has been President of the Society for Ethnomusicology and the Society for Asian Music.His forthcoming book is on music in his hometown, Detroit, in the 1940s-60s.
Register now for the opportunity to learn from this amazing scholar: http://klezkanada.org/registration/
As you all know by now, the theme for KlezKanada 2017 is Yiddish Renaissance! On the Renaissance Era front, we are very excited to welcome members of Switzerland’s Ensemble Lucidarium, Avery Gosfield and Enrico Fink. Lucidarium specializes in Medieval and Renaissance music. Their project, Ars Hebraica, is an innovative program dedicated to reconstructing the soundscape of the Jews in Renaissance Europe. The most recent program, Sounds from Shylock’s Venice, conjures the sights and sounds of a day in the life of Shylock, in and out of the Jewish quarter, in the vibrant, colorful world that was Renaissance Venice.
Aver le soutien de la République et canton de Genève.Presented through the gracious support of the Republic and Canton of Geneva.
with Jamie Elman and Eli Batalion
In summer 2014, Jamie Elman and Eli Batalion set off to pay tribute to the Yiddish language, culture, and comedic tradition they’d been reared on. Calling it “YidLife Crisis,” they hatched the world’s first Yiddish sitcom, exploring modern Jewish identity with a mix of comedy and inclusiveness. Two years after they debuted their first season at KlezKanada, they return to where it all began for an evening of screenings, shtickery, and narishkayt, not necessarily in that order. The performances of YidLife Crisis are supported by a grant in memory of Sarah Gonshor, zl”.
Major nakhes for the KlezKanada Poetry collective: a chunk of work, written by the participants of the poetry retreat – during the retreat itself – was published in the Forward. Get a taste of the work, and join us next year! Check out The Arty Semite posts here and here to read the articles and poems.
KlezKanada is pleased to announce the addition of renowned documentary filmmaker Karen Shopsowitz to the 2013 faculty. Karen will direct this year’s David Stein Film Scholarship program, taking the reins from Garry Beitel. Our sincere gratitude to Garry for his accomplishments in overseeing this program during its first six years of operation. Applications are still being accepted for the program, click here to apply.
Our 2016 Faculty are now online (check back, as the list keeps growing!).
KlezKanada is pleased to introduce some of our new faculty for 2016!
Paul Shapiro (Saxophones, winds, composition, improvisation)
Paul is a mainstay on the Downtown NY Jazz funk and improv scene. With 4 cd’s on John Zorn’s Tzadik label, his bands include Midnight Minyan, the Ribs and Brisket Review, and many more. Paul has played with everyone — Lou Reed, David Byrne, Jay-Z, Rufus Wainwright, Antony and the Johnsons — all while leading bands at literally 1,000s of weddings. Read more about Paul…
Lev ‘Ljova’ Zhurbin (composing, arranging & strings)
Hailed by the New York Times as “dizzyingly versatile… an eclectic with an ear for texture… strikingly original and soulful”, LJOVA (Lev Zhurbin) divides his time between composing for the concert stage, contemporary dance & film, leading his own ensemble LJOVA AND THE KONTRABAND, as well as a busy career as a freelance violist, violinist & musical arranger. Among recent projects is a commission from the City of London Sinfonia, a string quartet for Brooklyn Rider new works for Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, The Knights, Sybarite5 and A Far Cry, as well arrangements for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Alan Pierson and the Brooklyn Philharmonic. More about Ljova…
Ohkuma Wataru, Kogure Miwazo, Naoki Hishinuma, members of Jinta-La-Mvta
KlezKanada is proud to present the Japanese band, Jinta-la-Mvta, a musical group founded in 2004 by Ohkuma Wataru, clarinetist and bandleader of the groundbreaking Japanese experimental folk band Cicala Mvta and his partner and drummer Kogure Miwazo.
Montreal klezmer Hyman (Blackie) Herman has just confirmed his first visit to KlezKanada. The Interactive Museum of Jewish Montreal (IMJM) presents an intergenerational conversation with a very musical Montreal family. Having immigrated to Canada at age two in 1924, drummer Hy “Blackie” Herman was at the height of his musical career as a band leader in the 1950s. Hailing from a musical family who were klezmer musicians in Poland, Blackie worked with music greats such as trumpet player Maynard Ferguson, and pianists Oscar Peterson and Paul Bley. His grandson and bass player, Zack Lober, has transformed his zaide’s music and stories into the multi-media Ancestry project. The Founder and Director of the IMJM, Zev Moses, will host a discussion with grandfather and grandson about the swinging days of Montreal’s music scene and its lasting legacy for future generations.
The McGill/KlezKanada Summer Course students will be working with him to better understand what the life of a working Jewish musician in mid-twentieth-century Montreal was really like. For more on Blackie Herman, check out this article in the Canadian Jewish News about former KlezKanada fellow Emily Lam and her work with him.
All concerts followed by dancing
9:00 Moussa Berlin with the Faculty Band
Note: for this performance only, there will be gender-separated dancing
5:30-6:30 Ethel Raim
Susan Watts – From Holocaust to Life: David Botwinik’s New Yiddish Songs
with Adrian Banner
8:30 Cantor Aaron Bensoussan
with the KlezKanada Mizrahi Orchestra, led by Eric Stein
5:30-6:30 The Strauss/Warschauer Duo and Friends – Once I Had a Fiddle
Michael WInograd Trio with Svetlana Kundish and Alan Bern
8:30 Groyser Kontsert: Josh Dolgin aka Socalled (KlezKanada 18’s featured artist)
and the Socalled Orchestra featuring Michael Winograd; Veretski Pass; Eleanor Reissa
with Frank London’s Klezmer Brass Allstars
5:30-6:30 Christian Dawid – The Arkady Gendler Project
With Sarah Gordon, Svetlana Kundish, Josh Dolgin, Deborah Strauss, Cookie
Segelstein, Gaël Huard, Alan Bern
Yoni Kaston and Joel Kerr – Siach Hasadeh
with Jason Rosenblatt, Ismail Fencioglu, Daniel Fuchs, and Gaël Huard
8:30 *Magic NightClub* Dance Party featuring a cast of thousands.
Note: fancy dress of any persuasion encouraged.
Midnight Veretski Pass – Lilith, The Night Demon (excerpts)
9:00 Student Concert
11:30 Ellstein on the Beach
Opera followed by dance party
This summer’s program is filled with amazing opportunities to learn, play, sing, dance, act, speak and hear Yiddish, collaborate, create art, and be a part of our vibrant cultural community. We are currently updating this very website with a list of classes, workshops, and performance opportunities on offer this summer. This growing course list can be found here – please click on the course title for the full description. Keep checking back as we are adding new content every day!
KlezKanada is proud to present the theme for this summer’s Laurentian Retreat: UPRISING // RISING UP! Drawing upon the richness of Jewish history, the power of Jewish memory, and vitality of Jewish culture today, this is a program you do not want to miss.
Registration for KlezKanada’s 2018 Laurentian Retreat (Monday, August 20th to Sunday, August 26th) is available here.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, when a band of Jewish resistance fighters held off the Nazi Army for more than a month. In the midst of the ultimate horror, Jews with divergent political ideologies came together to fight, illuminating the awesome power of people when they unite and rise up. The uprising not only halted deportations, but news from the Warsaw Ghetto spread quickly and inspired Jews throughout occupied Europe. In honour of their sacrifice, in memory of the lives lost, and in recognition of their struggle, this summer KlezKanada will feature special programming throughout the week. (Photo: Bob Blacksberg)
The news of the uprising lifted our spirits and made us proud… And although we were in agony at their unequal struggle… we felt relieved… Our hearts became winged….” Shmerke Kaczerginski
This year we remember and celebrate the life and work of Elaine Hoffman Watts z”l, an
extraordinary musician and teacher in the world of contemporary klezmer percussion. As a woman in a mostly male profession, Elaine paved her own course and challenged people’s perceptions of what a klezmer drummer could look like. Part of a klezmer dynasty going back to Ukraine, Elaine passed on the tradition in her own family. But she didn’t stop there. Her generosity knew no bounds. She shared her trove of knowledge with thousands of students. And she empowered female musicians to rise up against the status quo, making sure that everyone knows that girls do play drums. Her experience, music, and groove was and remains a guiding light.
With Elaine as our inspiration, this summer we’ll reflect on how our art and music can break barriers and rise above expectations. So, join us as we think, play, and dance at concerts, films, lectures, and more all devoted to the funkiest beat around! (Photo: Jonas Becker)
From the Board of Directors
Frank London approached the Management Committee shortly before this year’s KlezKanada Laurentian Retreat with a request for a sabbatical year to permit him to pursue fully the projects that he describes in the message to the KlezKanada community below.
We are very pleased to report that after consideration of a short list of candidates drawn from those highly experienced with KlezKanada, Frank and we, working together, have selected Michael Winograd to perform the responsibilities of Artist . Director for the 2017 KlezKanada Laurentian Retreat. We look forward, as well, to Frank’s return to his responsibilities after next year’s program.
The following messages from Frank and Michael explain Frank’s request and our decision in more detail. We trust that our entire community will will join us in welcoming Michael to this responsibility and help us make the 2017 KlezKanada Laurentian Retreat even better than this year’s. A tall order indeed.
From Frank London
Dear KlezKanada Community,
This summer’s KlezKanada was a stupendous success, a highlight of the year for many of us. The joy of the dancing, singing, playing, the wedding, concerts; it continues to resonate. We are blessed to be a part of such a vibrant, creative and supportive community.
I have a number of large, exciting projects on my plate in the upcoming year that I’d like to share with you. My Yiddish-Cuban opera, Hatuey Memory of Fire, will be premiered by La Opera de la Calle in Havana, Cuba in March, 2017 as part of the First Havana Celebration of Jewish Culture. The Klezmatics are celebrating our 30th Anniversary with the release of our latest cd, Apikorsim/Heretics, and expanded world touring. KlezKanada poetry instructor Adeena Karasick and I are creating the multimedia dance poetry video music spectacle, Salomé: Woman of Valor, which is scheduled for its world premiere in the Winter. My newest group, the Hungarian-New York Glass House Orchestra, just released our cd Astro-Hungarian Jewish Music and will be touring in Europe. On top of that, I will be starting new Jewish music projects in Tokyo and in Venice; continuing my work with Eleanor Reissa and the Klezmer Brass Allstars (our new cd is Vilde Mekhaye), and with the amazing Cantor Yanky Lemmer, Michael Winograd, and our group, Ahava Raba; performing John Zorn’s Masada Nigunim; and returning to Montreal to reprise the wonderful collaboration that Lorin Sklamberg and I did with the ensemble, Constantinople.
Because of the amount of time and energy I’ll be putting into all of these projects, I have asked the Board for a pause in my responsibilities for the 2017 year, giving me a sabbatical year to take the time necessary to pursue all of these projects fully. After much consultation and search, the Management Committee, Board of KlezKanada and I are thrilled to announce that Michael Winograd will be serving as my substitute Artistic Director for the 2017 Retreat. I intend to resume my Artistic Director responsibilities after the 2017 program.
Michael needs no introduction; he has attended and taught at KlezKanada (and KlezKamp, and Yiddish Summer Weimar, and every other important festival of Yiddish music). He is a prolific musician, working with his own bands Sandaraa, Tarras Band, and the Yiddish Art Trio, in my band and the groups of Dan Kahn and Socalled, producing recordings for Josh Waletzky and Miryem-khaye Segal. He and I have worked together closely on the newly-formed Yiddish New York festival and on five Adrienne Cooper memorial Dreaming in Yiddish events. He is more than just a member of our community, he is a leader and an inspiration. His knowledge and experience will serve us all well. Personally, I cannot wait to see what he comes up with.
I look forward to returning to my duties as Artistic Director of KlezKanada’s Laurentian Retreat next Summer, 2018, and look forward to our all being together at CBB for this year’s KlezKanada.
From Michael Winograd
Greetings KlezKanada family,
I’m absolutely thrilled, honored and excited to step in for Frank as Artistic Director of the 2017 KlezKanada Laurentian Retreat. Since first attending as a scholarship student in 2003, KlezKanada has been both a hub for my creative and artistic development, as well as a community centerpiece, spurring both professional and personal relationships with artists and friends living all over the world. For many, if not most of us, the Klezmer and Yiddish cultural community serves as our extended family, impacting and shaping our lives in more ways than words can express. I grew up in this family and it is with a great pride that I fill this role of Artistic Director.
In the coming months please lookout for newsletters keeping you up to date with the development in next summer’s program. Already there are very interesting and exciting preliminary plans in the works for concerts, classes and other programs for the August retreat, and I can’t wait to share them with you, so hold tight!
I’m fired up and ready to get to work! I hope you are too! I look forward to seeing you all at KlezKanada next summer, and many of you throughout the year. Thank you to the entire community for your endless work in keeping Yiddish culture fresh, relevant, and exciting. Thank you to Frank London for keeping our minds open to what Klezmer and Yiddish is and could be, through bold programming and artistic vision. Thank you to Hy and Sandy for their endless hard work and sacrifice that keeps KlezKanada running and available for us all to enjoy year after year.
Lets do this!!
KlezKanada will be held from Monday, August 21 to Sunday, August 27, 2017!
Online registration is now open. Rates for 2017 can also be found on our registration page. We are working hard to improve the registration process and assure that we have correct information for every person who will be attending KlezKanada. To assure that, This form must be filled out for each registrant, whether registering as one person or for a group. Find the registration form at: klezkanada.org/registration.
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Join us in the Mountains for the 19th edition of the KlezKanada Laurentian Retreat, Canada’s largest annual festival of Jewish/Yiddish culture and the arts. Featuring: an all-star faculty, world-class concerts, workshops for instrumentalists, singers, dancers, and visual artists of all levels, films and lectures on Jewish history, literature, language and culture, children’s and teen programs that set the standard for learning and creativity.
This will be one of the most fidl-oriented KlezKanada summers ever. This year’s gloriously international string faculty includes violinists Deb Strauss, Mark Kovnatsky (Russia/Germany), Amit Weisberger (France/Israel), Lev “Ljova” Zhurbin (Russia/USA), Jake Shulman-Ment (USA with a strong dose of Hungary), Amy Zakar and fidl Fellow Abigail Reisman. Classes will focus on technique, style, repertoire, the fidl music of Carpathia, Roma/Gypsy styles, Belf’s Orkestar and other historical bands, writing and arranging for strings, and non-stop playing for dancing.
This year’s diverse string faculty also includes tsimbl-players Pete Rushefsky and Zev Feldman; Turkish oud player Nicolas Royer-Artuso; acoustic guitarist & mandolinist Jeff Warschauer; electric guitarist/composer/improvisor/bandleader Yoshie Fruchter; and two virtuoso bassists, Martin Lillich (from Germany) and Montreal’s Joel Kerr, master of modern Jewish bass.
For the first time ever, we have three different and unique saxophone/multi-instrumentalists who are all deeply imbued in Jewish music: composer/arranger/bandleader/funkmeister-supreme & Tzadik recording artist Paul Shapiro; Tokyo’s Wataru Okuma, master of chindon (street advertising music, the commercial medium before the advent of TV) and its predecessor, Jinta (original Japanese brass band music, a form for anti-establishment expression); and Afrobeat-ska-klezmer sax man Zach Mayer (from the band Zion 80). Each of their music is a mixture of old and new, east and west, north and south, borrowing openly from Klezmer, Jewish simkhe music, Turkish, African, African-American and Balkan music, progressive rock, punk, free jazz and folk to create its own world.
Please note, the deadline for the 2014 scholarship program has been extended until May 15th. Scholarship applications for the Poetry Retreat and the David Stein Memorial Filmmaking Program are due June 1st. More information about our scholarship program, as well as the application form, can be found here.
For May 2017 only, KlezKanada is offering a discounted registration special!
Have you been telling your family about KlezKanada for years? Do your friends wish they could join you? Bring someone new to KlezKanada and you will BOTH get a $50 discount on your registration!
NEW registrants should not have attended KlezKanada in the past five years. New registrants will receive a $50 discount for each adult registered, or a $75 discount per family registration.
RETURNING registrants will receive a $50 discount for the first new adult or new family registration they bring to KlezKanada. While the discount is not cumulative, if you bring more than three adult individuals or more than one family, we will take an additional $50 off your registration.
Register for KlezKanada 2017 at: klezkanada.org/registration
To apply this special, register before the end of May 2017 and use the promotional code SPREADTHEWORD plus the name of the new person/people you are bringing or the person who is bringing you. Discounts will be applied only after both parties have registered.
Special does not apply to Scholarship applicants.
The David Stein Film Scholarship is a unique opportunity for young and emerging filmmakers to explore KlezKanada creatively through the camera’s eye. Under the supervision of veteran documentary filmmaker Tamás Wormser, participants will hone their documentary skills through workshops and filmmaking projects – using performances and interactions with the leading lights of the Yiddish culture scene and the 400+ KlezKanada attendees as their subjects. The participants will be guided in conceiving, shooting, editing and completing a short film during the week at KlezKanada. The film will be screened for the entire KlezKanada community as part of the closing night student concert, with potential future possibilities for screening at other Jewish music and film festivals.
Born and raised in Hungary, Tamás Wormser began his career as a theatre director. Wormser’s filmography consists mostly of documentary films but includes fiction and experimental films. In the past 25 years, his work has been shown in over 50 countries, and has won several international festival awards. After Hand to Hand, a film commissioned by the Cultural Olympiad of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, Wormser is currently completing a 7-years project, The Wandering Muse, a film and a website exploring Jewish identities around the world through music.
“Wormser has a way of showing us the beauty beyond what is ostensibly ordinary.”- Matthew Hayes
The Klezkanada Poetry Retreat is back! For the second successful year in a row, internationally acclaimed poets, performers, groundbreakers and thinkers, Jake Marmer and Adeena Karasick will be returning to host 4 days of lectures, discussions, master classes on writing and performance – under the motto “Three Millennia of Poetic subversion”. …
KlezKanada’s friends at the Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre in Montreal are in the midst of their run of The Dybbuk. If you find yourself with a few days or hours in Montreal, we recommend taking in this classic of the Yiddish stage. The production features music arranged by KlezKanada faculty Josh Dolgin (aka SoCalled).
Read more about this production of the Dybbuk in the Montreal Gazette.
KlezKanada and the Museum of Jewish Montreal (MJM) invite you to a
The Choreography of Jewishness: Klezmer Music, Dance and Gesture in Ashkenazic Culture
Feb. 16, 2017 – 7:30 pm
MJM, 4040 St. Laurent #R01, corner Duluth at.
The workshop/lecture will give the participants/audience access to a deeper understanding of Jewishness through a talk and guided listening and movement to selected pieces of the klezmer music of Eastern Europe.
The evening will feature Walter Zev Feldman, who has recently published Klezmer: Music, History, and Memory (Oxford University Press, 2016).
Walter Zev Feldman is Visiting Professor of Music at New York University Abu Dhabi, Director of the An-sky Institute for Traditional Jewish Expressive Culture at the Center for Traditional Music and Dance (NYC), and Board Member of Corpus Musicae OƩomanicae (University of Münster).
Klezmer: Music, History, and Memory “is the first comprehensive study of the musical structure and social history of klezmer music, the music of the Jewish musicians’ guild of Eastern Europe. It reveals the artistic transformations of the liturgy of the Ashkenazic synagogue in klezmer wedding melodies, and presents the most extended study available in any language of the relationship of Jewish dance to the rich and varied Klezmer music of Eastern Europe.”
Admission fee: $10.00 (at the door)
Online tickets on Eventbrite
Led by Emily Socolov and Tine Kindermann
No family crest – no problem! No personal logo? Get busy! We’ll provide the base on which to design a personal, clan, artistic guild or community, banner. These can be painted, embroidered, sewn, and embellished with a variety of materials. Then, at the conclusion of the week, we will carry them in procession. Want to create an ode to your creative work? A blessing for those you love? Do you love Ottoman red and gold? How about a shop sign for our invented ghetto or shtetl? Simkhas torah is around the corner. Occupy!
Textile artists, workers in soft-sculpture, and others who are comfortable and interested in working intensively as artists and teachers with students of a range of ages and experience levels will enjoy this program. The format is informal instruction in an open studio setting. The visual arts program collaborates with other faculty, especially in the theater and kids program. We will also be working on decorations and costuming for this summer’s large dance party (an actual wedding!) and camp-wide events.
KlezKanada is pleased to announce that, starting in December, Sebastian Schulman will be joining our team as Executive Director!
Sebastian comes to KlezKanada most recently from the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he worked as a development officer and directed translation initiatives for the past several years. To this position at KlezKanada he brings almost ten years of experience in non-profit management and fundraising, and a background as a scholar, teacher, and translator of Yiddish culture and Jewish history.
Sebastian is already a part of the KlezKanada family, having served on the faculty several times since he first attended the festival in 2009. Borekh-habo et bienvenue! Please join us in welcoming Sebastian!
Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell, a multi-year KlezKanada scholarship recipient, specializes in Yiddish song, Hasidic nigunim, and chazones.
“KlezKanada helped me figure out what the constellations of the Jewish music world are; the people who founded the institutions that we’re all benefiting from, and the up-and-comers who are creating the institutions of tomorrow.”
Eager to tell others about KlezKanada, especially young musicians, Anthony relates, “Knowing a place like KlezKanada exists, knowing those things happen every year, gives me an immense amount of freedom about the possibilities what I could do musically – not only to be creative but to collaborate with others, to be part of a creative movement. When I meet someone who is even remotely interested in any of those things, especially younger people, I want to give them that experience. I encourage them to go to KlezKanada because it opens up all these horizons, both internal and external.”
Though he is a singer, he has also enjoyed participating in vocals-adjacent programming at KlezKanada, experiencing music as a dancer in dance classes, and connecting to the instrumentalists’ perspective in ensemble workshops.
After his first experience at KlezKanada, Anthony wished connect with the folk music from his own African-American tradition. “As I began to learn more about it and about Ashkenazi folk and religious music, it just felt natural to try and combine them where the texts and melodies seemed to interact and have dialogue with each other.”
Following this theme, Anthony has collaborated to create an album, “Convergence”, with Jewish band Veretski Pass, whose members he got to know better over the course of their work at KlezKanada. “Convergence” combines over a hundred years of African-American and Ashkenazi Jewish music to explore themes of exile, spirituality, hope and redemption.
In November, Anthony will be performing in Berlin at a Yiddish culture festival, telling his story as a singer of Yiddish through monologue and wordless nigunim. “The wordless melody is one of the most direct, approachable, emotional parts of Jewish music – a way to tell a story.” At KlezKanada, nigunim are shared at Shabbes Tisch (led by Sruli Dresdner, Lisa Mayer, Jeff Warschauer, and Deborah Strauss); Anthony, among many others, highlights this as a particularly beloved experience.
Anthony eagerly anticipates being reunited with distant friends at KlezKanada. “A whole part of the KlezKanada experience is getting off the bus and seeing someone you haven’t seen the entire year, running towards them screaming. When you actually see them… It’s magical.”
This post is part of a new series of interview-articles by Ari Lewis-Weigens.
For many participants, KlezKanada’s youth scholarship programs are a life-changing experience. We feel a great sense of nakhes as we watch the participants and alumni of our program become performers, teachers, and leaders around the world. We thought it was about time that we caught up with some of our current and “graduated” scholarship students to feature their experiences of KlezKanada (and beyond).
Daniel Toretsky has attended KlezKanada as a scholarship student since 2008, with his father Jeffrey and sister Abigail, who all play together in the klezmer band Mrs. Toretsky’s Nightmare.
As an architect, Daniel pays particular attention to the importance of places and spaces. “KlezKanada gave my musical and Jewish identity a new centre, geographically, and socially. For some people their Jewish centre is Jerusalem, the Western Wall, their synagogue, or somewhere else – but without a doubt I would say KlezKanada.”
As a trombonist, Daniel has attended KlezKanada’s low brass instrumental classes taught by Dan Blacksberg and Rachel Lemisch.
“Those classes are always a treat! It’s like brass yoga in the morning, a moment to recalibrate yourself with your horn – a solid starting point for the day, un-chaotic, just you and that deep drone around you.”
Daniel also participates in the larger ensemble classes where he enjoys learning tunes by ear and connecting with the other musicians to play both new and old Jewish music. Though he is primarily an instrumentalist, Daniel participates in the diverse range of programming offered at KlezKanada. Since he often plays in dance bands, Daniel has also enjoyed opportunities to take dance classes.
As a matter of fact, what Daniel considers the highlight of his week at KlezKanada involves no instruments at all: the nigunim. After dinner on Shabbes, KlezKanadians can join Sruli Dresdner, Lisa Mayer, Jeff Warschauer, and Deborah Strauss at the Shabbes Tish. Daniel finds himself speechless trying to convey what the Tish is and why it means so much to him. “I’ve never been able to explain it to anyone who hasn’t already been there.” In a darkened room lit only by trays of candles, people gather closely, sitting shoulder to shoulder, and join together in wordless song. The room becomes filled by the warmth and joy of people connected in a timeless meditative moment, extended for hours from melody to melody. Throughout the week at KlezKanada, Daniel attends the Nigunim for Peace class led by Sruli Dresdner and Zach Mayer, learning nigunim and other Hasidic vocal melodies, which will be sung on Friday night at the Tisch. Daniel especially appreciates that the Tisch reflects KlezKanada as an inclusive community and environment. “If you look up these nigunim on Youtube, they’re sung by men in shtreimls at a wedding, while the women are somewhere unseen. We’re the heirs to this incredibly rich history, and singing it with diversity of race, gender, sexuality is really important for bringing it into the 21st century.”
For Daniel, the ubiquitous jam sessions are another high point. At KlezKanada there is always a jam happening somewhere. “I learned so much by just jamming really late into the night with professional musicians – listening to them, having them nudge me and telling me to start playing. I was able to learn from them even if we didn’t speak the same language.”
You can see more of Daniel’s work at his website www.danieltoretsky.com
Music in the embedded video is by Abraham Inc.
This post is part of a new series of interview-articles by Ari Lewis-Weigens.
Our November 25 Yiddish dance party has been postponed until January 19th. Please stay tuned for further information.