KlezmerFest Is May 16

Klezmer music is what many people think of as Jewish music, and its stirring sounds will fill the air at Temple Shalom’s first KlezmerFest, Sunday, May 16, at Temple Shalom.

The family-friendly event, which starts at 1 p.m., will feature guest artists Cantors David Lipp of Adath Jeshurun and Sharon Hordes of Keneseth Israel and four bands.

The Java Jews, an Iowa band that delighted Louisville concert-goers last year, are returning for an encore.They will be joined by the Cincinnati Klezmer Project, The River City Klezmer Band and The Lost Tribe.


“Temple Shalom members are working hard to put together a wonderful celebration of Jewish music for Louisville and the region,” said Kathy Karr, a Temple Shalom board member and chairwoman of the KlezmerFest.

“We are delighted at the response KlezmerFest is receiving in our community,” she continued. “Don’t miss this fantastic event.”

Tickets are $18, and children 12 and under are free.

Tickets may be purchased in advance by calling Temple Shalom’s office, 458-4739; by contacting Kathy Karr 435-1966; or online at brownpapertickets.com.

Tickets also may be purchased the day of the event. KlezmerFest will be held rain or shine.
In addition to enjoying an afternoon of lively Eastern European and Jewish folk music, festival goers will be able to purchase corned beef sandwiches, hot dogs, chips, desserts, freshly popped popcorn and snow cones.

The repertoire that day will be populated with many familiar songs. Look for things like selections from Fiddler on the Roof, “Hava Nagila” and plenty of Yiddish favorites.

The Cincinnati Klezmer Project, coming down the road from the Queen City to our north, will bring a vocalist and clarinet, mandolin and guitar musicians. The Java Jews, from Des Moines, IA, includes bass, clarinet, trumpet, drums and accordion players.

There are also two local groups. The River City Klezmer Band is an all-volunteer group of professional and amateur musicians from the Louisville area who love Klezmer. The Lost Tribe is newly formed, and they will be making their debut at KlezmerFest with vocalists, clarinet, concertina, guitar and mandolin.

Aviv Naamani, a co-founder of The Lost Tribe, said the origins of Klezmer music lie in Eastern Europe with roots in Chasidic music, traditional synagogue liturgy and Gypsy music. “We are a new local group thrilled to be playing in front of family and friends,” said Naamani.

Klezmer music is the “soul music” of the Jewish people, according to Steve Stuhlbarg, director of the Cincinnati Klezmer Project. Over decades and centuries, Klezmer evolved into a sophisticated musical tradition that is highly emotional and exuberant.

Though it nearly died out a generation ago, today Klezmer music is undergoing an international renaissance, and it is widely acclaimed and celebrated by Jewish and non-Jewish music-lovers alike.

“When played slowly, it makes you want to cry. When played up tempo, the urge to dance is irresistible,” said Stuhlbarg. His group performs all over the Midwest, from Chicago to West Virginia and has also performed in New York, Canada and Belgium.

“We are delighted to be participating in this festival and honored to be sharing the stage” with other Klezmer groups, he said. “We think it is great that our hosts are working so hard to showcase and promote this important and exciting musical genre, and we are proud” to be part of the festival.

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