Monday, June 05, 2023

Sanford I. Weill and Jordan Roth Honored

New York—Defying critics, skeptics and nay-sayers, the thriving, vibrant, always “on,” Drama-Desk Award-winning National Yiddish Theatre-Folksbiene (NYTF) continues the celebration of its 100th year with a gala concert at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday, March 31. Sponsored by Capital One Bank, the concert features Lifetime Grammy-Award and Emmy-winning virtuoso Itzhak Perlman, the son of Israeli flee cases from Poland, playing selections from his highlyacclaimed “In the Fiddler’s House” album. Bruce Ratner, best known for his development of the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, chairs the event honoring financier Sanford I. Weill and Broadway impresario Jordan Roth.

The choices in the program reflect Perlman’s search for the roots of the Mama Loshen music of his growing up years—klezmer. Gala music director Hankus Metsky will conduct vocalist Michael Alpert, accordionist Alan Bern, clarinetist Kurt Bjorling, vocalist Judy Bressler, string bass player and cellist Stu Brotman, trumpeter Frank London, vocalist and accordionist Lorin Sklamberg, clarinetist Andy Statman and the Klezmer Conservatory Band in a reprise of many of the melodies in the PBS documentary of the same name.

The Gala will also mark the start of the official countdown to KulturfestNYC, the first-ever international Jewish performing arts festival, bringing together hundreds of global acts in Jewish and Yiddish theatre, music, dance, cabaret, and film, from more than two-dozen countries, performing in multiple citywide locations from June 14-22.

“It’s an historic occasion,” said Zalmen Mlotek, NYTF Artistic Director. “The Festival line-up is comprised of so many talented artists, from up-and-comers to Grammy winners. With dozens of programs spanning Manhattan from the seaport to uptown, from klezmer concerts to full-scale productions, it’s going to be an incredible week with plenty of activities for New Yorkers and visitors alike. It’s a tribute to life, work, and legacy and an investment [in Yiddish] for future generations.”

As part of the festivities, the NTYF sponsored the David and Clare Rosen Memorial Play Contest to fulfill one part of their mission—to create new Yiddish works for new Yiddish audiences. The winning play is “When Blood Ran Red,” the work of Montrealer Ben Gonshor, which will be a highlight of the Festival. It is about Soviet Jewish leaders after the Second World War, in the time of Stalin and their friendship with Paul Robeson, the African-American singer, actor and civil rights leader. A subject of intense interest to hundreds of the NYTF’s audience—the Jewish Russian immigrants who still speak Yiddish, and their descendants—as well as the descendants of those American Jews who were activists during the struggle to free Soviet Jewry--Broadway producers Emanuel Azenberg and Jane Dubin, composer-lyricist Jason Robert Brown and playwrights Jeff Baron, Jon Marans and Israel Horovitz felt that the material offers a unique historical and cultural perspective.

To learn more about the gala and the centennial festivities, visit www.nationalyiddishtheatre.org.

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