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Levine Music: Education, Performance, Community

While covering the Edlavitch DCJCC’s Washington Jewish Music Festival (WJMF) over the past few months, I had the opportunity to speak with several musicians from Levine Music, and see their performances. After listening to their music and talking with them, I became curious about the institution they belong to. So, I decided to speak with Ms. Lois Narvey, head of performance at Levine Music, to figure out what makes Levine Music so successful, and better understand their connection to the WJMF.

Daniela: This year’s WJMF featured several concerts and shows by the Levine Music School. Tell us about the 2018 Levine performance series and the collaboration with the WJMF.

Lois: For a number of years, Levine has had a very unusual concert series of its own. It presents only our faculty, who are both teachers and performers. The series covers all of our genres: classical music, jazz, rock, and musical theater. We develop a central theme each year, and arrange the performance around that. Last year was a slightly political theme, called “The protest propaganda and promise. The power of music”. This year is an anniversary year for Leonard Bernstein, so the theme is about him and his iconic influence. It makes for a very interesting, eclectic but unified series.  

A few years ago, we started to partner with the EDCJCC. This started as a very small partnership, but when Ilya Tovbis – Director of the WJMF – took over, he revitalized it. Ilya was very interested in having some of our concerts presented under the umbrella of the WJMF. I give him choices that I think he may be interested in, and he choose them. I thought he would have definitely been interested in the “Quartet to the end of time”, and “Strange Fruit”, which was performed twice as part of the WJMF.

Daniela: What’s the story behind the Levine Music school? When and why was it created?

Lois: I can definitely tell you about that since I’ve been at Levine for 30 years! It’s about 42 years old, and started in 1976 by three women from New York who came here with their husbands and young families, and couldn’t find music schools for their kids in DC. Around that time, a woman, who was a good friend of theirs, a prominent lawyer, and amateur chamber musician, was tragically killed in an automobile crash. Her friends decided to create a music school in DC named it after their lost friend, Selma Levine. It started very humbly, in a church basement, with volunteer teachers. Today, we have five campuses, ~3,500 students, and 160 faculty.

The founders had a very particular idea about what this school would be. They wanted to have the most excellent teachers, and to bebe absolutely welcoming to anybody who wanted to study music. You didn’t need to be “good” – there were no auditions.We have continued with this mission, which we call “excellence and opportunity.” Today, two of the three school founders are still on the Board, and everybody can study at Levine Music school in any part of the city because we have five campuses, like this wonderful venue [I’m at now] in Southeast DC called The Arc. We have a very strong tuition assistance program, and age doesn’t matter. Our youngest student is – believe it or not – a 4 month-old, and the oldest just turned 100.

Daniela: You are part of the Levine Music faculty. What is the educational goal of the school, and how has your experience been so far?

Lois: We have a core of very talented students for whom we provide a conservatory form of education. The majority of our students will always be amateur, and that is fine with us. My experience with Levine Music has been varied. I came on as a faculty member teaching harpsichord and piano. Then, I became head of the Piano Department, then acting Dean, then Director of Programs and Admission. I’ve done pretty much everything, but I’ve never stopped teaching. I teach as much as I can. I love being part of the faculty and part of the school.

Daniela: In addition to education, the other two principles of the Levine school are performance and community. What does the Levine Music community look like, and who is part of it?

Lois: A few years ago, we realized that we do so much more than just teach. We do a lot of performing: our teachers perform, our students perform, we have master classes, competitions, and workshops. We want to offer our faculty the chance to perform and we want our students to be inspired by them and perform too.

Community is part of our mission. We want to reach out to our musical community, welcome everybody and shape ourselves around it. We talk a lot about how we can make people feel welcome here.

Daniela: Is there an event during your years teaching at Levine that you remember in particular?

Lois: One of the most memorable moments for me was when Yo-Yo Ma came to visit. The reason it was memorable, beside the fact that he is a very famous musician, is that, like other musicians that came to visit us, he just came and mingled with the students and made them feel comfortable. What visitors like Yo-Yo Ma offer is life changing for these kids. To see them interacting with the visiting artists is, for me, the best part of the job.

DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 25JAN08 – Yo-Yo Ma, Cellist, USA plays the cello during the ‘Presentation of the Crystal Award’ at the Annual Meeting 2008 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 25, 2008.
Copyright by World Economic Forum swiss-image.ch/Photo by Andy Mettler
+++No resale, no archive+++

 

 

About the Author: Daniela is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you! She is a “retired philosopher” who works as an executive assistant and loves to write about Italian and Jewish events happening in DC. She was born and raised in Sicily (Italy) in an interfaith family and moved to D.C. with her husband after studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where they met. They have a wonderful Siberian cat named Rambam! Daniela loves going to work while listening to Leonard Cohen’s songs and sometimes performs in a West African Dance group

 

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

“Strange Fruit” – Remembering the Civil Rights Movement

I was a bit disappointed this past November when I was unable to see the Edlavtich DCJCC’s Washington Jewish Music Festival (WJMF) show by Levine Music, “Strange Fruit: Music from – and inspired by – the Civil Rights movement”. The tickets for this show sold out too quickly for me to get one, and people who attended told me it was a big success. So when I saw, last month, that the EDCJCC was offering a second performance on January 29th, I immediately decided to check it out AND got the chance to speak with one of the musicians involved!

The “Strange Fruit” concert was a powerful and intense experience from the beginning to the end. Energetic songs and freedom chants were sung, heartbreaking poems and motivating speeches were recited. The audience was taken to the 1960s and back by the rhythm of the instruments and the amazing voices of the musicians. By the end everybody stood, sang and clapped to the rhythm of “We Shall Overcome!”

A few days before the performance, I had the pleasure of speaking with internationally acclaimed opera singer and star of this show, Mr. Charles Williams – who has performed at renowned venues such as Carnegie Hall, Wolf Trap, The Smithsonian, and the Kennedy Center. Williams led the “Strange Fruit” show with songs, recited classic poetry, and even read a portion of Martin Luther King Jr’s Nobel Prize speech. We talked about the two performances at the EDCJCC, freedom riders, the civil rights movement, and the difference with today’s movements for social justice.

Daniela: “Strange Fruit” had already been performed and had such a big impact that the EDCJCC proposed an encore. Were you expecting such a big success?

Charles: It was very exciting, and we were very overwhelmed by the reception. We’d love to do it again, and in other places, but there are about 7 people in the show and it’s difficult to get them all together. When composer, educator, and one of the leading musicians Chris Brown (no, not that Chris Brown) – and the people at the EDCJCC suggested we do it again, we all agreed and we’re really looking forward to it.

Daniela: Tell us about this project. Why did you decide to present it as part of the Washington Jewish Music Festival?

Charles: Chris Brown spoke with the people at the WJMF, and thought it was a wonderful idea to open the show during the WJMF because it has a lot to do with racism, and the Jewish people have had their share of racism – it was a natural. During the Civil Rights era, there were so many people of all religions and ages that were very much a part of it, including a lot of Jews. Martin Luther King Jr. had a very special talent because he was speaking the truth and people knew it. He forced Americans to get on the right track.

Daniela: What about the musical selection? How did the set list come together?

Charles: In 1961 the freedom riders travelled to Washington, DC and to the deep south. Some of them were attacked, and some of them were killed. We chose some of the freedom riders’ songs that I suggested, and as well as some of the other songs from the era that were being sung by the students.

Daniela: What makes a song like “Strange Fruit” a protest song, and how big of an impact did that song have when it first came out?

Charles: “Strange Fruit” was written in 1939 by a white, Jewish school teacher Abel Meeropol who was a member of The Communist Party. He wrote it as a protest poem exposing American racism and particularly the lynching of African Americans. Then, Billie Holiday wrote music to it. It became an anthem, a very important song of the civil rights era.

Daniela: Do you think that today’s “resistance” movement can be compared to the civil rights movement? What’s the role of music in it?

Charles: You can compare today’s “resistance” movement to the civil rights movement, but there is one significant difference. During the civil rights movement, people sang. Everybody – Catholics, Jews, Black people, and White people…they sang.

Nowadays, people are not singing. Even during the Women’s March, they were not singing. Music is extremely powerful, and if you do music while you are resisting, that becomes very powerful and it’s difficult to disregard it. I think that’s what is missing with these movements, like the Women’s movement and Black Lives Matter. They could sing the music from the civil rights era! They are missing an opportunity, and it won’t have as big of a success without the music. Music and love are the most powerful forces on earth!

 

About the Author: Daniela Enriquez is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you. Daniela is Italian and comes from the only Jewish family in Palermo (population: slightly higher than DC). Things she likes about America include: the price of clothing, Internet coffee houses and ice rinks. Among the less desirable things are: the obsession with air conditioning, American “espresso,” and root beer. Feel free to contact her for advice on real Italian food in DC!

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Nomadica Mesmerizes at Music Festival Finale

If you are wondering what five Canadians were doing at the Edlavitch DCJCC, the answer is…they were getting ready to perform for the closing night of the Washington Jewish Music Festival (WJMF) on November 12, 2017. Led by Juno-award winning trumpeter and composer David Buchbinder, the incredible musical group Nomadica brought together the music and the world of the Arabs, Roma, and Jews for a fantastic closing show.

The audience was as diverse as the cultures that influenced the music of Nomadica: American Jews (and non-Jews), Southern and Eastern Europeans, Arabs. For music, we all come together to listen to a genre that sounds reminds each of us of our homelands in different ways.

Vocalist Ms. Roula Said danced, and her voice hypnotized the audience by deeply connecting with each beat of the music. She sang in English, Yiddish, Hebrew, Arabic, and Turkish. I truly felt the authentic connection between Ms. Said and the other musicians. This rich connection was strengthened by the fact that Ms. Said is the long-time wife of Mr. Buchbinder, as she explained before performing a song from their wedding ceremony.

Every song was an amalgam of rhythm and vocals, improvisation, and perfect coordination between sound, voice, and dance. The public was enthusiastic and moved on their chairs to the beat of the songs.

We were transported to different countries and became a part of different stories: stories of love, travel, religion, abandon, and friendship. Jazz, klezmer, funk, and middle-eastern music infused the track list – sometimes even in the same song, thanks to Nomadica’s musical talent and eclectic abilities.  

The end of the show was bitter-sweet, as nobody wanted to say goodbye to this wonderful band and their music, or to the 2017 edition of the WJMF.

The only flaw of the evening? Despite the several attempts of Ms. Said to push the public to stand up and dance, only a few people accepted her invitation.

But, if I can offer any advice for future Washingtonian concert goers – if you ever feel the urge to dance, just get out of your chair and dance!

The WJMF has ongoing concerts throughout the year. You can find upcoming concerts here.

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About the Author: Daniela is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you! She is a “retired philosopher” who works as an executive assistant and loves to write about Italian and Jewish events happening in DC. She was born and raised in Sicily (Italy) in an interfaith family and moved to D.C. with her husband after studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where they met. They have a wonderful Siberian cat named Rambam! Daniela loves going to work while listening to Leonard Cohen’s songs and sometimes performs in a West African Dance group

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Spotted in Jewish DC – Indie/Folk Singer Eli Lev

Folk singer-songwriter Eli Lev was spotted at the Silver Spring Fresh Farmers Market by our very own Rachel Gildiner. The moment Eli’s soothing indie/folk music hit Rachel’s ears, she was captivated. So, to ensure all of our amazing readers can experience this mesmerizing music around DC, we’re featuring Eli’s band in this week’s #SpottedinJewishDC!

Oh, and you can go check him out in person next week on December 13th at SonyByrd for his album release party.

Allie: How did you become a musician?

Eli: Growing up I was always exposed to Jewish music especially klezmer music. I came back to DC last year to take care of my family because my dad has been going through some health issues. Before coming here, I was working as a teacher and finishing my Master’s in Language Education from Indiana University. When I came back to the area, someone asked me to play music with them at Tryst. This led to me playing at SongByrd, the Kennedy Center, and then Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton asked me to perform at The Capitol! All of a sudden – I’m a full time musician.

Allie: What type of music do you play?

Eli: Indie/Folk, Americana with a little bit of soul in there. Jack Johnson meets Johnny Cash. Smooth, laid back vocal approach with some honky tonk general.

Allie: Music heroes?

Eli: Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, all the best singer/songwriters from the 60s/70s. Vance Joy I like a lot. Mumford and Sons I have to thank for bringing folk back to people’s ears.

Allie: What are your songs about?

Eli: A lot of my songs I wrote when traveling around the world. My most recent single is “Go Down,” about a baptismal site I saw when I was living in Israel. I just made a music video based on that song.

Allie: What are the goals for your music?

Eli: My music is about bringing people together, and creating power with ourselves to identify who we are. This has a lot to do with getting back to nature, connecting to your neighbors – and understanding that we’re a part of the community we create. The folk music brings this all together because it inherently has a link to the past.

In today’s political climate, we’re at the mercy of the latest news cycle. We’re being taught to fear each other, even within the Jewish community, and it makes us weak. To be a strong person and a strong community, there has to be unity. My music speaks to that.

My next single is called “Making Space” and that is about creating space for ourselves to feel empowered, and use our voice to protest.

Allie: Any plans for the future of your music you’re particularly excited about?

Eli: I’m playing with a full folk band, and we have an album release party coming up at SongByrd. Playing with a band gives me a lot of excitement, and expands my reach. Ultimately, I’d love to do national and international touring.

 

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Manny Arciniega: Quartet to the End of Time

When I checked out the program of the 19th Washington Music Jewish Festival (WJMF), I noticed that the Levine Music faculty were/are performing Messiaen’s “Quartet to the End of Time,” a work composed inside a prisoner of war camp in 1940. I wondered what a piece written by a Catholic composer, and inspired by the Book of Revelations and the Apocalypse, had to do with the Jewish festival.

I got very curious and decided to attend the concert and interview one of the members of the band, percussionist Manny Arciniega. Manny explained that while inside the prisoner of war camp, Messiaen met with two other world famous musicians: violinist Jean le Boulaire and cellist Étienne Pasquier. Messiaen loved to listen to natural sounds like birds singing, and added these sounds into his composition.

The other band members presented an innovative version of the piece by re-scoring and playing it with electronic instruments and percussion. What resulted was a mesmerizing performance.

By the end, I had an answer to my question: why was this performance included into the Jewish music festival? Well, in addition to one of the three musicians who played it, Étienne Pasquier, being Jewish, the piece is a work expressing liberation and the possibility of hope — sentiments which are very close to our Jewish history.

Enjoy my interview with Manny Arciniega!

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Daniela: I hear you are on faculty at Levine Music. Tell us more about that!

Manny: Levine Music is a community music school that serves the area around DC for students of all ages and abilities. It provides a welcoming community for children and adults to find lifelong inspiration and joy through learning, performing, listening, and participating in music.

Daniela: Why did you decide to commemorate Messiaen’s Quartet to the end of time at this year’s WJMF?

Manny: Each year, Levine Music chooses a theme for its concert series that faculty participate in.  The theme for the 2016-2017 Levine Presents series was “The Power of Music: Protest, Propaganda, Promise” – and I immediately thought of the “Quartet for the End of Time.” The story of the piece’s conception, having been written in a Nazi prisoner of war camp during WWII, perfectly intersected with the proposed theme.  Messiaen drew his inspiration from the Book of Revelation but its message is far from Apocalyptical.  It was an offering from Messiaen to the other prisoners in the camp. The music, composed of birdsong and sounds no one in that camp had ever heard before, allowed each individual to remove themselves from the temporal and into peace.  

The work is a testament to the power of human will to overcome the darkest of circumstances.  It’s message of hope, perseverance, and love.

This seemed appropriate topics for the WJMF.  Recent political events have necessitated a fresh look at Messiaen’s timeless masterpiece.

Daniela: How do electric instruments and percussion add to/change the original piece?

Manny: I loved the “Quartet for the End of Time” since my first encounter with it as a graduate student in the UK. I used to drive around listening to it in my car and imagine what it would sound like with percussion behind it. Messiaen was an avid composer for percussion instruments, and many of his birdsong compositions use a percussion or lesser known instruments such as the Ondes Martenot.

Changing the orchestration provided a variety of challenges from an arranging standpoint.  I tried to find parallels between the original instruments and their modern counterparts. My goal was to find moments where I felt Messiaen was trying to maximize a particular timbre or sound and see if we could dial it up.

My hope was to just strike a chord with the individual. Whether that is one of contemplation over the cacophony of sound, or complete disgust for the destruction of revered music, we just want to invoke an emotional response.

After the premiere of the re-orchestration this past January, one individual just came up to me, gave me a hug and then thanked me with tears in his eyes. It’s a moment I will always remember.

Daniela: Does this piece give you an experience of oppression or liberation while you play it, knowing that it was composed and performed in a Nazi camp?

Manny: As for the history of its composition, knowing its origins strengthens its meaning of hope and liberation. Each time I play that 8th movement, I get goosebumps.

I can’t help but think about how beautiful the world is, despite all of the hatred and lack of empathy around us — music is inspiring — it’s an escape from the ‘now.’

Daniela: How has playing this piece changed the relationship between the musicians? 

Manny: If it weren’t for the other individuals in this performance, it most likely would have never been realized. As a result of this project, we have all found ourselves in vulnerable positions, both musically and emotionally, from the stress that comes with working such a challenging work and that has served to bring us closer together. Everyone has put their heart and soul into learning this music, its story, and the language of Messiaen’s unique composition style. I will admit, there have been moments of doubt that some of the tasks before us might be impossible to pull off, but in the end no one backed down from the challenge.

 

 

 

About the Author: Daniela is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you! She is a “retired philosopher” who works as an executive assistant and loves to write about Italian and Jewish events happening in DC. She was born and raised in Sicily (Italy) in an interfaith family and moved to D.C. with her husband after studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where they met. They have a wonderful Siberian cat named Rambam! Daniela loves going to work while listening to Leonard Cohen’s songs and sometimes performs in a West African Dance group

 

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

1:1 with Simone Baron, Washington Jewish Music Festival

Simone Baron – AIR
Strathmore

I was very excited, a few days ago, to speak over the phone with Simone Baron, artist in-residence at the Washington Jewish Music Festival (WJMF), which just ended this past Sunday. Simone had a very busy Washingtonian week, with a concert every night, including three shows during the WJMF. Nevertheless, she found the time to talk with me about her life and her love for music and performance. My excitement grew after we exchanged a few greetings and Simone asked me – with a perfect accent – “Ma…sei italiana?” [Wait, are you Italian?] and explained me that her mother is Italian too! We made a promise to find time to meet and grab a coffee – an espresso, of course – together soon!

I know you want to read about Simone, so I’ll stop writing so you can get to a slightly modified version of our phone interview.

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Daniela: What are your current musical influences and how did you arrive at this point in your career?

Simone: I grew up listening to classical chamber music. I started playing piano seriously at age sixteen, and was given my first accordion for my bat mitzvah when I was 12. When I was finishing my degree in classical piano at Oberlin, I was in a musical rut and feeling tension in my body, so I started playing some phrases accordion and it opened up my world a lot – I was able to sing on the instrument. I listened to great accordion players who were creating all sorts of interesting things with the instrument.

My musical influences? People who inspire me and totally immerse themselves as deeply as possible. Esperanza Spalding, is someone who goes deeply into everything she does and moves freely between musical genres, yet stays true to her musical DNA. Another current influence is Tyshawn Sorey. I met him this past summer in Canada at Banff. He is a brilliant, beautiful composer, multi-instrumentalist, and conductor, and listens with every pore in his body. Making music with him was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

I arrived at this point in my career through a combination of hard work, jumping into many things without thinking too much, and staying true to my constantly growing appetite and inner weirdness.

Simone Baron – AIR
Strathmore

Daniela: Do you view the accordion as a contemporary instrument, or something in need of a revival?

Simone: There is an amazing quote by Pauline Oliveros:

The accordion is my primary instrument. It’s an old friend – comfortable and expressive. Symbolically it is aligned with *the people* – working people. It is also a challenge to play an instrument that grew up after the period of classical music. The piano is centered in that period. The accordion has a life of its own.”

By the time I became interested in the accordion, the stigma tied to it has been largely washed away, replaced by a vague admiration for this eclectic thing. At the same time, due to the efforts of a few excellent musicians, there is a lot of very interesting contemporary music written – and being written 1– for the accordion: it is an instrument with infinite possibilities, the beautiful visual mechanism of breathing, and it is still evolving.

Daniela: We heard your just had your “World Premiere” concert with David Buchbinder at the WJMF. What was most exciting for you about this collaboration?

Simone: David is a Toronto based trumpeter, and as I’ve just started my masters there, so the WJMF organizer had the idea for us to collaborate on a performance together. David has assembled a fantastic band including Drew Jurecka – an amazing violinist/saxophonist, and Justin Gray, a fantastic bassist– it’s wonderful to hear our music interpreted by all of them! We were joined by DC based Lucas Ashby, a frequent collaborator of mine and a beautiful drummer.

Daniela: Let’s talk about the Bina Project, which I know is very important for you. You mixed chamber music works from women composers, madrigals from Italian–Jewish composers and multimedia effects. What is this project about and how did you managed to include all these elements?

Simone: The Bina Project (which took place this past Sunday at the WJMF) grew out of an ongoing inquiry into what the concert form can be. I’m coming from a world in which the standard model of a concert pianist is one who sits down at the piano and plays a well balanced, slightly boring repertoire, without really interacting with the audience.

Humans seek communication and direction. The concert focused on Bina, which means “understanding, knowledge” in Hebrew. It has the same root as livnot (to build) so it’s a creative concept. People in the audience created their own story out of the different disparate elements presented on stage – poems by Gertrude Stein, dance, the dialogue between spectralism and Scriabin.

Daniela: With so many active projects (the Arco Belo Ensemble, the Contra Ponte Project, and now the collaboration with Buchbinder) how do you

Simone Baron – AIR
Strathmore

manage to keep them all going while pursuing your masters?

Simone: The Contra Ponte Project, which took place this past weekend, featured regular trio of mine with Lucas Ashby and Leo Lucini on bass, as well as guests such as Rogerio Souza, a famous seven-string guitarist, and a wonderful saxophonist from Brazil. I’ve been playing a lot of concerts with these musicians over the last year. Playing with them always gives me so much energy and joy. Arco Belo is also an ensemble that I formed during my residency last year at the Strathmore. It’s a mix of chamber music with contemporary influences, and jazz with global roots.

For the last two months, I have been having concerts every weekend here, and I go back to Toronto to study during the week. It’s very rewarding and enriching: all these projects are actually related to each other and to what I am studying—they cross pollinate in fascinating ways.

Daniela: What is the role of a female Jewish musician in today’s music world?

Simone: Being Jewish means having access to an incredible wellspring of musical tradition, and is a way of being and thinking. I studied Mishnah and Talmud before becoming a musician, and I’m convinced that that culture of inquiry and philosophy translated directly into my approach as a musician. The fact that I studied with my mother, a Roman Jew, instilled a strong sense of a cultural identity as well as pride in being a Jewish woman that I try to carry in my artistic voice.

Listening for me is a very feminine characteristic and for me the most important part of being a musician. In today’s world we are struggling with regression – we’re still battling sexism among others, and often we fail to listen to each other. Ultimately, there is quite a lot of work to be done since there are not many women musicians, composers, and conductors in the world, and as one of the composers on the Bina concert, Kaija Saariaho, puts it, “You know, half of humanity has something to say, also.”

 

 

About the Author: Daniela is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you! She is a “retired philosopher” who works as an executive assistant and loves to write about Italian and Jewish events happening in DC. She was born and raised in Sicily (Italy) in an interfaith family and moved to D.C. with her husband after studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where they met. They have a wonderful Siberian cat named Rambam! Daniela loves going to work while listening to Leonard Cohen’s songs and sometimes performs in a West African Dance group

 

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

PREVIEW: Take a First Listen of the Washington Jewish Music Festival!

Good news for music lovers! The 19th edition of the Edlvatich DCJCC’s Washington Jewish Music Festival (WJMF) kicks-off on November 2nd with a concert by Tararam, the Israeli group known as “Israel’s Stomp.” If you like unconventional instruments and drumming, go check it out and be ready to enter into a world of fire drumsticks and mesmerizing sound.

Is your musical taste more oriented toward jazz and classical? Don’t worry. You’ll have plenty of choices, and could even attend multiple concerts a week! For example, the Festival’s Centerpiece Hours of Freedom: The Story of the Terezín Composer, features pieces by fifteen composers who were survivors of the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Jews at the Theresienstadt concentration camp were allowed to possess instruments – likely for propaganda purposes. Some of the best Jewish composers of the time had been deported to Theresienstadt. In the midst of brutality, pain, and death during the darkest time for humanity, these artists somehow found the inspiration to compose exceptional pieces full of depth and sentiment.

If, like me, you spend your day stuck at a desk staring at a computer and would like to shake your body, show up to dance to the rhythm of klezmer-ish international music with either Yasmin Levy and the Klezmatics or – for the closing night – Nomadica (just to name a few!).

The year’s festival features a diverse mixture of genres, composers, players and performers connected by their Jewish background and influenced by worldwide trends and rhythms. As Festival Director Ilya Tovbis said in the official press release:

The 19th Washington Jewish Music Festival’s lineup is a very exciting alchemy – it brings together some of the most prestigious, original, and boundary-pushing artists from around the world working in the Jewish space, and encourages them to experiment in the nation’s capital. Additionally, we’re doubling down on highlighting and elevating the work and artistry of local DC musicians whose output spans hip-hop, klezmer, bossa nova, and cantorial repertoires. The Jewish sound being celebrated at this year’s Festival is as eclectic, multicultural, and global as the Jewish diaspora itself.”

A tradition of the WJMF is the Day of Education on Arab Citizens of Israel. This year’s edifying day will include a performance by flutist Mais Hriesh and violinist Tal First, of the Polyphony Foundation, as well as a post-concert discussion about the importance of art in building a multicultural society.

I am planning to attend a number of shows and chat with the artists, so stay tuned on GatherDC’s blog for more news – and buy your tickets quick! My first spotlight on the Festival will be a brief interview with artist-in residence Simone Baron who will perform on November 11th with David Buchbinder at the world premiere of their concert.

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About the Author: Daniela is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you! She is a “retired philosopher” who works as an executive assistant and loves to write about Italian and Jewish events happening in DC. She was born and raised in Sicily (Italy) in an interfaith family and moved to D.C. with her husband after studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where they met. They have a wonderful Siberian cat named Rambam! Daniela loves going to work while listening to Leonard Cohen’s songs and sometimes performs in a West African Dance group.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.