Celebrating the glorious tradition of turning great Yiddish poems into songs, including works by Celia Dropkin, Itzik Manger, Morris Rosenfeld, Leyb Naydus, David Edelstadt, Avrom Sutzkever, Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman, Rokhl Korn, and many others.
This event includes live music, readings, and archival recordings, featuring leading voices of the contemporary Yiddish music renaissance, including Tony Award nominee Eleanor Reissa, Sarah Gordon, and Tsvey Brider, a duo composed of Anthony Mordechai Zvi Russell and Dmitri Gaskin.
The evening is hosted by Ilan Stavans, award-winning writer and the Lewis-Sebring Professor of Humanities and Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College and host of the NPR podcast "In Contrast. Instrumentalists include Grammy Award–winning trumpeter and keyboardist Frank London (a cofounder of the Klezmatics), renowned Anglo-Indian percussionist Deep Singh, Radical Jewish Culture guitarist Yoshie Fruchter, and Turkish-born violinist Eylem Basaldi.
The event is presented as part of the Yiddish Book Center’s Decade of Discovery.
The Yiddish Book Center’s Decade of Discovery is a new initiative of the Yiddish Book Center designed to foster a deeper understanding of Yiddish and modern Jewish culture in the United States. Beginning with the Center’s 40th anniversary in 2020, and continuing for each of the next ten years, the Center will select an annual theme around which it will hold special events, courses, conferences, exhibits, performances, and other programs, often in partnership with other organizations.
Founded in 1980, the Yiddish Book Center is a nonprofit organization working to recover, celebrate, and regenerate Yiddish and modern Jewish literature and culture.
The Yiddish Book Center's Decade of Discovery is made possible in part by a grant from the Ralph W. and Leona Kern Foundation.
Fluent in English and Yiddish, Eleanor Reissa lives a life in the theater as a director, actor, singer, and writer. On Broadway, Eleanor acted in Paula Vogel’s Indecent and was honored with a Tony nomination for directing Those Were the Days. She appeared in the HBO miniseries The Plot Against America, based on Philip Roth’s book, and acted in the premiere of We All Fall Down at Boston’s Huntington Theatre and in Wendy Wasserstein’s Sisters Rosensweig at South Coast Repertory Theatre. Eleanor co-created (with Seth Rogovoy), directed, and performed in Carnegie Hall’s From Shtetl To Stage and will direct Paddy Chayevsky’s The Tenth Man in a Yiddish translation she co-wrote for the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene.
Eleanor currently hosts the podcast Those Who Were There: Voices of the Holocaust, produced by Yale University’s Fortunoff Video Archives. Recent musical collaborations include a new program of Kurt Weill music with Frank London and Music from Mrs. Maisel with Paul Shapiro. Eleanor’s plays are collected in the anthology The Last Survivor and Other Modern Jewish Plays. Eleanor is Brooklyn-born and a product of the New York City public school system. Being the daughter of Holocaust fighters has shaped every aspect of her life and art.
Sarah Mina Gordon is a fourth-generation Yiddish folk singer. Sarah has recorded and performed with Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All-Stars, the Klezmatics, Daniel Kahn and the Painted Bird, Sharabi, and others. She also fronts Yiddish Princess, a Yiddish rock band.
Daughter of legendary Yiddish singer and scholar Adrienne Cooper (z’l), Sarah grew up immersed in innovative Yiddish culture. Dedicated to making new Yiddish art, she has collaborated with Michael Winograd, Frank London, Alicia Svigals, and the Klezmatics to pen Yiddish songs that are sung around the world. Her song “Ekhod/Who Knows One” is internationally known and has been taught and performed at festivals from California to Krakow. Sarah is also an educator, teaching third grade at Brooklyn Friends School for over a decade and designing and leading Yiddish-culture programs for children and adults.
Anthony Mordechai Zvi Russell
Twelve years after making his professional operatic debut, Anthony Russell is now a vocalist, composer, and arranger specializing in Yiddish song. Anthony’s work in traditional Ashkenazi Jewish musical forms led to a musical exploration of his own roots through the research, arrangement, and performance of a hundred years of African American roots music, resulting in the album Convergence (2018), a collaboration with klezmer consort Veretski Pass, exploring the sounds of 100 years of African American and Ashkenazi Jewish music.
In 2017, Anthony teamed up with accordionist and pianist Dmitri Gaskin to win the Concorso Internacional de Canciones en Idish (Der Idisher Idol) in Mexico City, forming a duo, Tsvey Brider (“Two Brothers”), for the composition and performance of original songs in the Yiddish language. Over the past two years, Tsvey Brider has been featured in Berlin’s Radical Jewish Culture Festival, toured Poland, and performed for culture and music festivals all over the United States, including the annual YIDSTOCK: The Festival of New Yiddish Music at the Yiddish Book Center.
Anthony’s work in Jewish music has brought him to stages in Toronto, Montreal, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, Miami, New York, Tel Aviv, London, Berlin, Warsaw and Krakow, Symphony Space in New York City, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, as well as Limmud Fests across the United States and Europe.
Dmitri Gaskin is an accomplished accordion player, pianist, composer, and arranger specializing in klezmer and Romanian folk music. He performs with several klezmer bands throughout California, most notably with Saul Goodman’s Klezmer Band. Dmitri has also performed and taught at several music festivals, including KlezKalifornia.
Outside of klezmer, Dmitri won the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award for a contemporary classical composition. He also formed Harmonikos, a performing collective of young composers and musicians.
Dmitri studied accordion with klezmer greats Josh Horowitz and Alan Bern. He lives in California with his three accordions.
Sir Frank London is a Grammy Award-winning trumpeter and composer, a founder of the Klezmatics, leader of the Astro-Hungarian supergroup Glass House Orchestra, the Shekhinah Big Band, his Klezmer Brass Allstars, co-leader of bhangra/Yiddish group Sharabi (with Deep Singh), Ahava Raba (with Cantor Yanky Lemmer and Michael Winograd), and Vilde Mekhaye (with Eleanor Reissa).
Frank’s large-scale works include the Cuban-Yiddish opera Hatuey: Memory of Fire (with Elise Thoron); 1001 Voices: A Symphony for a New America (with Judith Sloan & Warren Lehrer); the folk-opera A Night In The Old Marketplace (with Alex Aron and Glen Berger, based on Y.L. Peretz’s 1907 play); the multimedia dance/poetry/video Salomé: Woman of Valor (with Adeena Karasick); Davenen for Pilobolus Dance Theater; Ghetto Songs; Weill in New York; From Moses to Mostel; Bagels + Bhangra; and more.
Frank has worked with John Zorn, Itzhak Perlman, Pink Floyd, LL Cool J, Mel Tormé, Lester Bowie, Karen O, LaMonte Young, They Might Be Giants, David Byrne, Jane Siberry, and Mark Ribot. He has made over 45 recordings of his own music; is featured on over 500 CDs; and has been called the “mystical high priest of New Wave Avant-Klez jazz” (All About Jazz)
Deep Singh has been steeped in music since the age of three and at six years old became the youngest disciple of the late tabla master Ustad Allah Rakha. Deep’s versatility as a performer, composer, producer, and engineer has given him a unique place in the music industry, resulting in some very innovative collaborations with leading artists from the East and West. Deep received a Grammy nomination in 2018.
Deep’s instrumental credits include A. R. Rahman/Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Bombay Dreams, Twyla Tharp’s musical Come Fly Away, Mira Nair’s musical Monsoon Wedding, and Sheila Silver’s opera performed by the Seattle Symphony, Thousand Splendid Suns (fall 2022). Deep composed an anthem for India, “Anthem of Us,” which debuted at Madison Square Garden/Times Square. Deep has taken part in various projects with Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and has ghostwritten and programmed for several major pop artists. Deep can be seen live with his copartner Frank London playing in New York City’s downtown band Sharabi (Intoxication), merging various genres from bhangra, klezmer, and jazz.
Yoshie Fruchter is a guitar, bass, and oud player and composer whose band, Pitom (Tzadik Records), has received critical acclaim from Jazz Times magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Guitar Player Magazine, and many more. The unique blend of rock, jazz, experimental, and Jewish styles in his playing and composing is a defining characteristic of his music. He has toured the US and Europe with Pitom and other groups, playing the Atlantique Jazz Festival in France, the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival, Saalfelden Jazz Festival in Austria, and others. He recently released an album on the new Jewish record label Blue Thread Music of post-rock arrangements of old cantorial recordings entitled Schizophonia.
Yoshie is also a sought-after freelance musician in New York City in bands ranging in style from acoustic world music to heavy metal, and he has performed with John Zorn, Cyro Baptista, and Frank London, among many others.
Turkish-born violinist, composer, and educator Eylem Basaldi performs in a wide array of settings featuring Balkan, Middle Eastern, North African, and Southeast Asian musical traditions. She is a member and collaborator in various music groups, including Dolunay and Sandaraa, and is a sought-after improvising violinist in world, rock, and jazz music settings.
Classically trained at the New England Conservatory, Basaldi has played and recorded with many groups including Grammy Award–winner Snarky Puppy, Dave Brubeck, and the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. During 2017, Basaldi was a band member on the Off-Broadway show The Boy Who Danced on Air and was a sub on the Broadway show Indecent.
Ilan Stavans is the publisher of Restless Books and the Lewis-Sebring Professor of Humanities, Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College. His books include On Borrowed Words, Spanglish, Dictionary Days, The Disappearance, and A Critic’s Journey. He has edited The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature, the three-volume set Isaac Bashevis Singer: Collected Stories, and The Poetry of Pablo Neruda, among dozens of other volumes. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, Chile’s Presidential Medal, the International Latino Book Award, and the Jewish Book Award. Stavans’s work, translated into twenty languages, has been adapted to the stage and screen. A cofounder of the Great Books Summer Program at Amherst, Stanford, Chicago, Oxford, and Dublin, he is the host of the NPR podcast In Contrast
Seth Rogovoy is a writer and producer and serves as the artistic director of the Yiddish Book Center’s annual YIDSTOCK: The Festival of New Yiddish Music. His star-studded Yiddish cultural celebration From Shtetl to Stage: A Celebration of Yiddish Music & Culture, co-created with Eleanor Reissa and Frank London, sold out Carnegie Hall in April 2019.
Seth’s books include The Essential Klezmer: A Music Lover’s Guide to Jewish Roots and Soul Music (Algonguin) and Bob Dylan: Prophet Mystic Poet (Scribner). A contributing editor at The Forward, Seth is the recipient of a 2016 Simon Rockower Award from the American Jewish Press Association for excellence in arts and criticism for his portrait of musician Leonard Cohen published in Hadassah Magazine in its April/May 2015 issue.
Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre
Expected Run Time is 90 minutes