Nights of the Golem

If you're planning on attending any of the Jewish Music Festival's myriad concerts this week solely to soak in some sentimental Klezmer songs that'll make you want to reach for a bagel and lox, you'd best stay home and give your worn-out copy of the Yentl soundtrack another spin. The fest -- a Bay Area institution known for innovative programming now celebrating its 23rd year -- really is an affirmation of the wonderful absurdity of the term "Jewish music." This year the stylistic sprawl is no less impressive than in years past. Offerings range from Klezmatics-founder Frank London's A Night in the Old Marketplace -- a song cycle based on a Yiddish play from 1907 -- to Polish ceremonial singing from Brooklyn Hasidic cantor Benzion Miller, to Jewish folk-punk from New York's Golem. Perhaps the most intriguing event is the closing performance, a commissioned collaboration of nine internationally renowned artists/composers, including such local gems as vocalist Jewlia Eisenburg and cellist Jessica Ivry. Titled Cyclical Ritual (Part One): Spring, the piece was composed during a weeklong residency by the performers, who -- in their mix of a Ukrainian vocalist, an Israeli mandolin virtuoso, a New Orleanian accordionist, and others -- are the living example of the astonishing breadth of modern Jewish music.
Wed., March 26, 9 p.m., 2008

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