Klezmer Influences in American Jewish Music

Admission: General $12 | YIVO Members $8
Box Office: smarttix.com | (212) 868-4444
Venue: YIVO Institute at the Center for Jewish History | 15 West 16th Street – NYC

For years, American Jewish composers have been integrating klezmer and Yiddish folk songs into new classical music, inventing a new form of artistic and cultural Jewish expression. In this unique lecture-demonstration, we present three of these outstanding and rarely performed pieces—Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind by Osvaldo Golijov, Six Yiddish Scenes by Paul Alan Levi, and Café Music by Paul Schoenfield—and delve into the intricacies and challenges of performing American Jewish music today. Special guests include internationally-acclaimed clarinetist Todd Palmer, who will discuss the klezmer and mystical elements of Dreams and Prayers; pianist and composer Paul Alan
Levi, who will speak with Michael Leavitt, President of the American Society for Jewish Music about interpreting Yiddish Art Songs today; and Yuval Waldman, artistic director of the Sidney Krum Concert Series, who will introduce the hybrid klezmer-jazz elements in the closing piano trio Café Music

The Sidney Krum Young Artists Concert Series is made possible by a generous gift from the Estate of Sidney Krum.

Michael Leavitt is President of the American Society for Jewish Music and a Founding Director of the Museum of Yiddish Theater. His firm MPL Productions, Inc. specializes in advertising and marketing for the arts, as well as concert, recording and radio production. In the fields of music and dance, he has managed and worked with major performers at home and abroad. For more than three decades Michael Leavitt has been a consultant and advisor to arts organizations around the country, as well as state and national agencies.

Paul Alan Levi is an acclaimed composer. His most significant works, for chorus, orchestra, and soloists include, the Mark Twain Suite and the Passover Oratorio, Dayenu, both of which premiered in Carnegie Hall. Levi has received numerous awards and grants, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as commissions from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; New York Choral Society; New Amsterdam Singers; and Robert DeCormier Singers, among others. His Songs for the Synagogue, composed with Rabbi/Cantor Mark Lipson, has been regularly performed in concert and as part of Shabbat night services throughout the United States. Levi has written many works for chorus, solo voice, piano, chamber ensembles, and orchestra, as well as scores for film and television. Recent works include: Venetian Mazes for piano solo (premiered at Tenri Cultural Institute); Second String Quartet (premiered at Merkin Concert Hall); Dateless Calendar for chorus and chamber ensemble (commissioned and premiered by New Amsterdam Singers); and Light at Play for orchestra (to be premiered this December by American Chamber Orchestra, Fairfield, CT).

Todd Palmer (clarinet) has appeared as soloist, recitalist, chamber music collaborator, educator, arranger, and presenter in a variety of musical endeavors around the world. A three time Grammy nominated artist, he was a winner of the Young Concert Artist International Auditions and grand prize winner in the Ima Hogg Young Artist Auditions. He has made solo appearances with the Atlanta, Houston, BBC Scotland orchestras; St. Paul, Cincinnati, Montréal, and Metamorphosen chamber orchestras. His recital performances include Weill Hall and 92nd Street Y in New York, the Kennedy Center, and Suntory Hall in Tokyo. He has collaborated with some of the world’s finest string ensembles such as the St. Lawrence, Brentano, Borromeo and Pacifica quartets; sopranos Kathleen Battle, Renée Fleming, Elizabeth Futral, Heidi Grant Murphy and Dawn Upshaw; in addition to many other notable instrumentalists. He has championed Osvaldo Golijov’s klezmer quintet The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind; premiered David Bruce’s Gumboots at Carnegie Hall with the St. Lawrence Quartet; and commissioned Ricky Ian Gordon’s theatre work, Orpheus and Euridice, which was presented by Great Performers at Lincoln Center. Most recently he premiered Crosswalk, a new work for clarinet and dance by choreographer Mark Morris.

Yuval Waldman, born in Russia and educated in Israel, the United States and Europe, has enjoyed great success as a violinist, conductor, and educator. Waldman has appeared as a soloist with orchestras in the United States, Canada, Europe and Israel and given recitals at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, Wigmore Hall in London, and Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. In 2005 Maestro Waldman founded Music Bridges International, to foster cross-cultural music exchange programs that feature the music of different countries. Under the Music Bridges banner, he organized the successful Young Artsist Strings Competition at the “Tchaikovsky’s Homeland” Center in Izhevsk/Votkinsk, Russia.