Jewish Music Series

The Jewish Music Series at Sonoma State is a presentation of the Department of Music and the Jewish Studies Program. Now in its fifth year, the series is widely acclaimed for its breadth, depth, and musical excellence as it poses the eternal question of “What makes music Jewish?”
The concerts, a component of the “Survey of Jewish Music” class, run about 90 minutes in length, are Free and open to the public, $5 parking fee applies.

For more information contact the Department of Music at 707-664-2324 or Jewish Studies Program Director Brian S. Wilson.

The first in the series of six performances, Thursday, September 5th at 6:30 pm in Schroeder Hall highlights Sharon Bernstein - Yiddish Songs at an Exhibition. A multi-media performance of music and art. Featuring Sharon Bernstein (voice, piano) in a unique multi-media performance set to paintings by self-taught Toronto artist Mayer Kirshenblatt. Mr. Kirshenblatt’s vibrant portraits and stories of his home town Apt (Poland) before the Holocaust inspire a rich blend of traditional song and contemporary sound.  Projected images of the paintings connected with the songs and readings of Mr. Kirshenblatt’s memories complete this experience that recreates the sights and sounds of a Jewish Polish town. Inspired by and developed in collaboration with the book and exhibition They Called Me Mayer July: Painted Memories of Jewish Life in Poland Before the Holocaust by Mayer Kirshenblatt and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett.

 

The second concert features Tsvey Brider (Two Brothers), on Thursday, September 19th at 6:30 pm in Schroeder Hall.

Tsvey Brider (Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell and Dmitri Gaskin) is a Yiddish songwriting, arranging and performing duo formed in 2017 after winning the Concorso Internacional de Canciones en Idish (Der Idisher Idol) in Mexico City. They have gone on to be featured in Berlin's Radikale Jüdisches Kulturtage (Radical Jewish Culture Festival), tour across Poland and perform in culture and music festivals all over the United States and Europe.

Inspired by the work of an international group of twentieth-century Jewish writers and poets, Tsvey Brider is a musical exploration of contemporary life in the Yiddish language through a diverse array of styles and genres including contemporary classical, cabaret, blues and pop in addition to the sounds of Jewish Eastern Europe that have traditionally accompanied music in the Yiddish language.

The members of Tsvey Brider have performed and recorded with such noted artists as Anthony Coleman, Daniel Kahn, Josh Dolgin/SoCalled, Michael Winograd, Sarah Aroeste, Michael Alpert, Alan Bern, Yale Strom, and Veretski Pass.

 

On Thursday October 3rd at 6:30 pm we host Days of Awe: Veretski Pass with Shofar

Veretski Pass has been a leading ensemble of the Klezmer Revival for almost two decades, with a repertoire ranging from the deeply traditional to the avant-garde. This concert will highlight their improvisatory skills with a potpourri of Ottoman and Carpathian suites utilizing pieces from their field and archival work. Veretski Pass' concert programs continue to surprise and delight audiences across the globe, with collages of styles that integrate Jewish melodies from Poland and Rumania with Hutzul wedding music from Ruthenia and haunting Rembetica aires from Smyrna, joined together with their own original compositions. Their CDs have repeatedly been on the 10-best recording lists of journalists since 2002. Their concerts are humorous and exciting with unexpected moments of powerful emotion.

Join us for a salute to Armenia Kitka & Hasmik Harutyunyun in Concert: Gorani: Love Songs and Lullabies to Lost Homelands on Thursday, October 17 at 6:30 pm. 

Hasmik Harutyunyan is an Armenian folk singer. She is the leading member of the Shoghaken Folk Ensemble and directs the Hayrik Muradyan Traditional Song and Dance Children's Ensemble. The music of the Shoghaken Ensemble is featured on the soundtrack of the film Ararat. Harutyunyan's Armenian Lullabies was recognized by the New York Times as an outstanding world music CD in 2004. With Shoghaken Folk Ensemble, she has performed in Armenia, France (including a 2006 performance at the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris), Germany, Estonia, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and the US (including an eighteen-concert 2004 tour and an appearance at the 2002 Folklife Festival as part of the Silk Road project organized by Yo Yo Ma). In autumn 2009, Hasmik performed in concerts in the USA with the Kitka Women's Vocal Ensemble, presenting the music of Komitas, Hayrik Muradyan, and Armenian lullabies, as well as participating in the San Francisco World Music Festival. In 2010, she performed with Shoghaken and gave a workshop on Armenian folk song and dance in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Harutyunyan graduated from the Yerevan State Pedagogical University and the Department of Vocal Music at the Arno Babajanian School of Music, majoring in opera.

Kitka is an American women’s vocal arts ensemble inspired by traditional songs and vocal techniques from Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Founded in 1979 as an offshoot of the Westwind International Folk Ensemble, Kitka began as a grassroots group of amateur singers from diverse ethnic and musical backgrounds who shared a passion for the stunning dissonances, asymmetric rhythms, intricate ornamentation, and resonant strength of traditional Eastern European women’s vocal music. Since its informal beginnings, the group has evolved into an award-winning professional touring ensemble known for its artistry, versatility, and mastery of the demanding techniques of regional vocal styling, as well as for its innovative explorations in new music for female voices.

Photo by Tomas Pacha

Photo by Tomas Pacha

With an overarching mission of cultivating local and global community through song. Kitka’s activities include an Oakland-based home series of concerts and vocal workshops, leadership of community choirs, regional, national, and international touring, programs in the schools, recording, publication, and broadcast projects, artist residencies, commissioning original works, community service, and adventuresome collaborations. Kitka’s wide-ranging performance, teaching, and recording activities have exposed millions to the haunting beauty of the ensemble’s exquisite and unusual repertoire. With deep ties to Balkan, Slavic and Caucasian lands, Kitka has performed, taught, and conducted cultural exchange activities in Poland, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, Georgia, and Armenia, as well as in communities throughout the USA, Canada, and beyond.

Our fourth concert, Thursday, November 7, at 6:30pm features An evening of modern Jewish Art Song featuring soprano Carol Menke singing Asia's song cycle, "Breath in A Ram's Horn." 

Breath in a Ram’s Horn sets the words of American poet Paul Pines, whose poetry has been set by Asia repeatedly ever since the two men met at the MacDowell Colony some years ago. The poems range from the sacred to the mundane, and the harmonic language that Asia employs in this work is. The Jewish identity of both texts and musical settings reaches its zenith in the last of the songs, “My Father’s Name Was,” a nostalgic look at family life, with its music in a jocular version of the minor mode.

Daniel Asia, b. Seattle, WA 1953, has been an eclectic and unique composer from the start. He has enjoyed the usual grants from Meet the Composer, a UK Fulbright award, Guggeneheim Fellowship, MacDowell and Tanglewood fellowships, ASCAP and BMI prizes, Copland Fund grants, and numerous others. He was recently honored with a Music Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. From 1991-1994 he was Meet-the-Composer Composer- in Residence of the Phoenix Symphony. 

Asia’s five symphonies have received wide acclaim from live performance and their international recordings. The Fifth Symphony was commissioned for the Tucson and Jerusalem symphony orchestras in celebration of Israel’s 60th anniversary. He recently finished Divine Madness: The Oratorio based on poetry from the eponymous book by his longtime colleague Paul Pines.  His most recent major works are the opera, The Tin Angel, and secular oratorio, Divine Madness.
He is presently Professor of Composition, Head of the Composition Area, and Coordinator of the American Culture and Ideas Initiative, at The University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music, Tucson.

Our final performance, November 21st at 6:30 pm, of the year features composer Sheldon Brown who wrote the score, with Alisa Rose and Richard Marriott for "The Golem: How He Came into the World." 

The ensemble is a quintet of clarinet, violin, trombone (euphonium), contrabass, and piano. The score premiered at the Silent Movie Theater, Los Angeles on March 23, 2011, and was reprised for the Vallejo Silent Film Festival on May 4, 2018, at the Empress Theater, Vallejo.

"...an enormous palette of musical influences from which Club Foot, via its founder and creative director Richard Marriott, draws inspiration. These range from Stravinsky to the imperatives of West African folk idioms, taking in account swing, jazz, rock, blues, and modernist atonality."
Peter Stack, San Francisco Chronicle

 

Past Jewish Music Series performers 

Singers

  • Sharon Bernstein
  • Scott Gerber
  • Heather Lkein
  • Jewlia Eisenberg
  • Jeanette Lewicki
  • Stephen Saxon
  • Anthony Russell
  • Sharon Goldman
  • Roslyn Barak
  • Richard Neil Kaplan
  • Jeremiah Lockwood
  • San Francisco Choral Artists

Chamber Musicians

  • The Bridge Players: Randy Weiss, violin; Michael Graham, cello; Marilyn Thompson, piano
  • Kristie Janczyk, piano
  • Roy Zajac, clarinet
  • Daniel Nebel, horn
  • Matthew Vincent, violin
  • Jill Brindel, cello
  • Jennifer Wilsey, percussion
  • Noam Lemish, piano and Amos Hoffman, oud/guitar 
  • Brian S. Wilson, conductor

Bands

  • Veretski Pass
  • The Big Galut(e)
  • Safra
  • Qadim Ensemble
  • Frank London, Glenn Hartman & Jake Marmer
  • Invisible Guy
  • The gonifs
  • Kugelplex
  • Rebbe Soul
  • Isle of Klezbos

 

The logo of the Jewish Music Series combines musical notation with Hebrew letters in a modern representation of "L' Chayim!" (To Life!). Concept and graphic design by Jerry Wilson.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

One of the paintings by artist Mayer Kirshcenblatt

Jewish Music Series Performance

Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center

Sharon Bernstein - Yiddish Songs at an Exhibition. A multi-media performance of music and art

Featuring Sharon Bernstein (voice, piano) in a unique multi-media performance set to paintings by self-taught Toronto artist Mayer Kirshenblatt. Mr. Kirshenblatt’s vibrant portraits and stories of his home town Apt (Poland) before the Holocaust inspire a rich blend of traditional song and contemporary sound. Projected images of the paintings connected with the songs and readings of Mr. Kirshenblatt’s memories complete this experience that recreates the sights and sounds of a Jewish Polish town. Inspired by and developed in collaboration with the book...View Event Details

Thursday, September 19, 2019

This is a photo of Tsvey Brider (Two Brothers)

Jewish Music Series

Schroeder Hall in the Green Music Center

Tsvey Brider (Two Brothers)

Tsvey Brider (Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell and Dmitri Gaskin) is a Yiddish songwriting, arranging and performing duo formed in 2017 after winning the Concorso Internacional de Canciones en Idish (Der Idisher Idol) in Mexico City. They have gone on to be featured in Berlin's Radikale Jüdisches Kulturtage (Radical Jewish Culture Festival), tour across Poland and perform in culture and music festivals all over the United States and Europe.

Inspired by the work of an international group of twentieth-century Jewish writers and poets, Tsvey Brider is a musical exploration of contemporary life in...View Event Details

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Jewish Music Series Band Veretski Pass

Jewish Music Series

Schroeder Hall in the Green Music Center
Days Of Awe: Veretski Pass with Shofar

Veretski Pass has been a leading ensemble of the Klezmer Revival for almost two decades, with a repertoire ranging from the deeply traditional to the avant-garde. This concert will highlight their improvisatory skills with a potpourri of Ottoman and Carpathian suites utilizing pieces from their field and archival work. Veretski Pass' concert programs continue to surprise and delight audiences across the globe, with collages of styles that integrate Jewish melodies from Poland and Rumania with Hutzul wedding music from Ruthenia and haunting Rembetica aires from Smyrna, joined together with their own original compositions....View Event Details

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Hasmik Harutyunyun photograph

Jewish Music Series - Armenia

Schroeder Hall in the Green Music Center

Kitka & Hasmik Harutyunyun in Concert: Gorani: Love Songs and Lullabies to Lost Homelands. Hasmik Harutyunyan is an Armenian folk singer. She is the leading member of the S hoghaken Folk Ensemble and directs the Hayrik Muradyan Traditional Song and Dance Children's Ensemble. The music of the Shoghaken Ensemble is featured on the soundtrack of the film Ararat. Harutyunyan's Armenian Lullabies was recognized by the New York Times as an outstanding world music CD in 2004. With Shoghaken Folk Ensemble, she has performed in Armenia, France (including a 2006 performance at the Théâtre de la Ville in...View Event Details

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Album cover of Breath in a Ram's Horn

Jewish Music Series

Schroeder Hall in the Green Music Center

An evening of modern Jewish Art Song featuring soprano Carol Menke singing Asia's song cycle, "Breath in A Ram's Horn."

Breath in a Ram’s Horn sets the words of American poet Paul Pines, whose poetry has been set by Asia repeatedly ever since the two men met at the MacDowell Colony some years ago. The poems range from the sacred to the mundane, and the harmonic language that Asia employs in this work is. The Jewish identity of both texts and musical settings reaches its zenith in the last of the songs, “My Father’s Name Was,”...View Event Details

Thursday, November 21, 2019

This is a classic photograph from the film The Golem

Jewish Music Series

Schroeder Hall in the Green Music Center

Sheldon Brown: The Golem live music with silent film The score for "The Golem: How He Came into the World" (1920) was written by Sheldon Brown, Alisa Rose, and Richard Marriott. The ensemble is a quintet of clarinet, violin, trombone (euphonium), contrabass, and piano. The score premiered at the Silent Movie Theater, Los Angeles on March 23, 2011 and was reprised for the Vallejo Silent Film Festival on May 4, 2018 at the Empress Theater, Vallejo.

"...an enormous palette of musical influences from which Club Foot, via its founder and creative director Richard Marriott, draws inspiration. These...View Event Details