Singer’s Warsaw Festival to showcase wealth of Jewish culture
August 19, 2014
Maia Morgenstern, photo by Georg Kreisler
The 11th Singer’s Warsaw Festival of Jewish Culture will be held Aug. 23-31 this year, offering attractions including music and theater performances, lectures, workshops and movie screenings.
The festival is traditionally held on Próżna Street and Grzybowski Square in central Warsaw, once hubs of the capital’s Jewish community, and each year it aims to recreate the neighborhood’s ambiance from before World War II.
Audiences will be able to enjoy concerts performed by Jewish cantors and klezmer music bands, and to sample delicious kosher food.
Apart from Próżna Street and Grzybowski Square, some of this year’s festival events will be held in the districts of Muranów and Praga. Festival audiences will see several artistic installations as well as movies with Jewish themes, and will be able to attend workshops and meetings with the authors of books on Jewish culture.
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.
The festival is named after Polish-born Jewish American Nobel Prize-winning writer Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902-1991), who felt a strong affection for Warsaw and wrote about the city in many of his novels.
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.
The originator of the festival is Gołda Tencer, an actress and director of the State Jewish Theater.
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