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The Warsaw Voice » Hit of the month » July 30, 2012
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Singer’s Warsaw Take Nine
July 30, 2012   
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This year’s ninth Singer’s Warsaw Festival of Jewish Culture Aug. 25-Sept. 2 will feature top performers from around the world, including Joshua Nelson, hailed as the Prince of Kosher Gospel.

The festival is organized by the Shalom Foundation which since 1988 has worked to preserve the memory of the rich cultural heritage of Polish Jews. Since its inception, the festival has been dedicated in memory of Isaac Bashevis Singer, a brilliant Polish-born Jewish American writer whose international career won him two National Book Awards and the Nobel Prize in Literature.

One of the highlights of this year’s festival, Joshua Nelson has played at concert halls, synagogues and churches around the world, earning himself the reputation of the Prince of Kosher Gospel. Combining Hebrew spirituality with soul music, Nelson has performed with some of the greatest soul and jazz performers, including Aretha Franklin, Billy Preston and Wynton Marsalis.

Grammy Award winners Frank London and the Klezmatics band will play on Grzybowski Square Sept. 1 and 2. Based in New York, composer and trumpeter London is regarded as one of the greatest performers to emerge on the Jewish music scene ever since the genre’s revival began two decades ago.

For several years, guests invited to perform at the Singer’s Warsaw Festival have included well-known Polish performers who draw inspiration from Jewish music. This year, popular singer Kayah will sing a selection of songs chosen especially for the festival and chanteuse Justyna Steczkowska will perform songs from her stage show entitled Alkimja and featuring Jewish songs.

One of the biggest highlights of this year’s festival will be a joint performance by three great Jewish cantors from Jerusalem: Alberto Mizrahi, Benzion Miller and Yaakov Lemmer. They will be accompanied by the Sifthey Noham Choir from Jerusalem.

This year’s festival events include a concert by Deborah Strauss, one of the most accomplished musicians who cultivates traditional Jewish violin playing techniques. The duo she forms with Jeff Warschauer from the United States is regarded as one of the most prolific acts on the klezmer and Yiddish music scene.

Warsaw audiences will hear controversial Jewish American multi-instrumentalist Daniel Khan. Born in Detroit, Khan writes his music together with a German band called The Painted Bird, named after the novel by Jerzy Kosinski. They combine klezmer music with radical Jewish songs, dark political comedy shows and punk rock.

The La Playa and Mamele clubs in Warsaw will host concerts by Alex Jacobowitz, a performer of classic klezmer music. For many years, Jacobowitz has astonished audiences around the world playing Jewish music on the marimba, a South American type of five-octave xylophone. He will duet with violinist Jona Rayko.

Warsaw audiences will also see actress, singer and writer Theresa Tova, the winner of multiple awards. Admired for her sensual voice and spontaneous sense of humor, she is always at ease whenever she performs at jazz clubs in Toronto, Montreal, Paris and Luxembourg.

One of the most special concerts of the 2012 Singer’s Warsaw Festival will be delivered by famous pianist, songwriter and arranger Matt Herskowitz, best known for “Bach a la Jazz,” a song he wrote for the Grammy-winning soundtrack to The Triplets of Belleville movie.

Other than music concerts, Warsaw audiences will attend a string of remarkable theatrical events. This year will mark the first Polish performance by the Nephesis Theater from Israel who are coming with Gimpel the Fool, a surrealistic play based on a short story by Singer. Exploring the essence of betrayal and the struggle between good and evil, Gimpel the Fool is set against political events in the Europe of the 1930s. The Nephesis Theater production makes a generous use of vocal performance and klezmer music.

The Jewish Theater in Warsaw will premiere a play entitled Ah! Odessa—Mama... directed by Jan Szurmiej and The Book of Splendor written by Pawe³ Passini.

One of the most noteworthy events of this year’s festival will be Just Enough Time to Pack a Few Things, a play based on a book by Alix Landau-Brijatoff and starring outstanding French actresses. The production features klezmer music performed live by clarinetist David Krakauer.

Like each year, festival events will be held in the neighborhood of Grzybowski Square and Pró¿na Street as well as the Praga district of Warsaw and at cafés and clubs by the Vistula River. Along with music concerts and theatrical performances, the festival comprises almost 200 cultural events such as exhibitions, lectures, workshops, meetings with writers and movie screenings.
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