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The Warsaw Voice » Stage & Screen » August 1, 2014
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Singer’s Warsaw Festival
August 1, 2014   
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The 11th Singer’s Warsaw Festival of Jewish Culture, one of the most important Jewish culture-themed events in Europe, takes place Aug. 23-31.

The annual festival was first held in 2004 as a tribute to Polish-born Jewish American Nobel Prize-winning writer Isaac Bashevis Singer, who felt a strong affection for Warsaw and wrote about the city in many of his novels. Festival audiences have since been treated to a wide variety of events and activities, from concerts, theatrical performances and movie screenings to the tasting of delicious kosher dishes. The festival, which includes workshops and debates on Jewish culture, aims to recreate the bygone world of prewar Warsaw.

As usual, the main venues of the Singer’s Warsaw Festival are located in the neighborhood of Grzybowski Square and Próżna Street, but like last year, many festival events will be also held in the Praga and Muranów districts of Warsaw.

Singer’s Warsaw places an emphasis on music. The festival venues will resound with various music forms and genres to suit almost every taste, from synagogue chants, klezmer and Hassidic music to classical and contemporary Jewish music.

Part of this year’s festival will be the first Singer’s Jewish Jazz Festival, whose stars include top Israeli jazz musicians Daniel Zamir and Harold Rubin. Acclaimed Polish pianist Kuba Stankiewicz will play work by talented composer Victor Young, while jazz trumpeter and klezmer musician Frank London will share the stage with Yaakov Lemmer, one of the world’s best cantors, in a project combining klezmer sounds and music inspired by song-driven prayer.

Many of the festival’s music highlights will be held at the Nożyk Synagogue on Twarda Street and include concerts by some of the world’s best young cantors, such as Elazar Vinograd, Abraham Kirshenbaum and Moshe Fishel with the Jerusalem Cantors Choir from Israel. All of them have been invited by the Shalom Foundation, the festival organizer.

For several years, Singer’s Warsaw has also featured famous Polish acts who draw inspiration from Jewish music. This year, the Kapela ze Wsi Warszawa band will give a special concert at the All Saints’ Church on Grzybowski Square.

Outdoor concerts on the square have for years been the most popular events of the festival. The concerts include the Night of the Klezmers, whose main star this year is Alan Bern with band, a team of virtuosos who play highly emotive music. The day before the concert on Grzybowski Square, Bern and his bandmates will perform their latest project entitled Semer Label Reloaded at the Jewish Theater. The Night of the Klezmers will also feature Trio Yas made up of Christian Dawid (clarinet), Sanne Möricke (accordion) and Guy Schalom (percussion).

The festival’s finale concert will also take place on Grzybowski Square, and the star of the night will be world-famous countertenor David D’or, whose four-octave vocal range has earned him the nickname of the Great Voice of Israel. D’or, who combines classical music with ethnic music, has 10 platinum albums under his belt.

The theatrical highlights of this year’s festival include Lola Blau, a monodrama performed by Maia Morgenstern, who played the Virgin Mary in Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ. Warsaw audiences will also see the first Polish performance of The Planet of Robots, a play based on short stories by Polish science-fiction writer Stanisław Lem. This version is directed by Shmuel Shohat, a leading Israeli theater director. Actors from the Jewish Theater will perform a play entitled A Carp, a Goat and the Trumpet that Put out Fires, based on short stories by I.B. Singer.

On the evening of Friday Aug. 29, the organizers encourage audiences to celebrate Sabbath together on Próżna Street. The event, called Shalom Sabbath, will mark an attempt at setting a World Guinness Record for the highest number of people sitting down for a meal together.

Another event held during each Singer’s Warsaw Festival includes The Masters Read Singer, featuring celebrated Polish actors. This year, excerpts from Singer’s books will be read out loud by Olgierd Łukaszewicz, Jerzy Trela and Włodzimierz Press.

Every year, the Singer’s Warsaw Festival draws an audience of over 35,000 people of different ages and from different walks of life.

For further details go to www.festiwalsingera.pl and www.facebook.com/FestiwalSingera
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