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Ashkenaz: A Festival of New Yiddish Culture
Migrates Back to Toronto


The global resurgence of interest in Yiddish culture, nearly destroyed during the Holocaust, is one of the most heartwarming phenomena in recent history. Ashkenaz: A Festival of new Yiddish Culture 2004 features outstanding international artists from widely disparate parts of the world, including Ethiopia's Yossi Vassa, France's Les Yeux Noirs, South America's Klezmer en Buenos Aires and Holland's Ot Azoj. Over the past decade, Toronto's Ashkenaz festival has become the greatest and most widely attended North American event celebrating the contemporary Yiddish cultural revival. Highlighting the theme of migration, Ashkenaz 2004 features a startling mixture of performances showcasing rich traditions moving in joyful new directions.


Festivities begin August 31, culminating in a bustling weekend of music, dance, theatre, film, visual arts, literature, lectures and storytelling at Harbourfront Centre, from sundown Saturday September 4 through Monday September 6, 2004. Many events are free. For tickets and information, the public can call 416-973-4000. Complete festival details will be available at www.ashkenazfestival.com and www.harbourfrontcentre.com.


The Klezmatics bring their soul-stirring Jewish roots music to Toronto for the first time in over five years. These renowned performers
present a free stunning open-air concert at Harbourfront Centre’s CIBC Stage on Saturday, Sept. 4 at 9:30  p.m.. The Klezmatics’ rousing performance is part of Ashkenaz’ spectacular post Shabbes (Sabbath) evening, which starts with an uplifting, artistic and musical Havdallah ceremony at the Toronto Star Stage. 


Klezmer en Buenos Aires helps kick off the Ashkenaz Festival week, with the extraordinary clarinet and accordion talents of César Lerner and Marcelo Moguilevsky, Thursday, September 2 at 8 p.m. at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, 750 Spadina Ave,Toronto. The group returns with special musical guests on Sunday, September 5 at 7 p.m.  at Harbourfront Centre’s Brigantine Room. Tickets for each concert are $36.


Prolific, multi-talented, Montreal-born pianist Marilyn Lerner presents the world premiere of her original score to the silent Yiddish film East and West, which stars Molly Picon (Fiddler on the Roof) in her first film, on Wednesday, September 1 at 8 p.m. at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre and Sunday September 5 at 2 p.m. at Harboufront Center’s Studio Theatre. On Monday, September 6 at 5 p.m., Klezmer en Buenos Aires presents their musical version of the comedy classic film. Tickets are $18 for each performance.


Several important Toronto premieres, including many free performances light up Labour Day weekend, September 4-6 at Harbourfront Centre.


The Yiddish Radio Hour resurrects the classics of Yiddish radio from the 1930s to ‘50s. With a new radio program and theatre performance, Ashkenaz celebrates the forgotten geniuses and important recordings of this often overlooked chapter of the Canadian experience. The Yiddish Radio Hour can be seen and heard at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday September 5 and at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, September 6. Tickets are $15.


Yossi Vassa, “the Eddie Murphy of Israel,” opens a window on the experiences of immigrants to Israel with his moving and often hilarious personal account of his 700-kilometer journey on foot from Ethiopia to the Holy Land, It Sounds Better in Amharic, 8:00 p.m., Saturday September 4, and Sunday, September 5, at Harbourfront Centre’s Studio Theatre. Tickets are $15.


From Holland, Festival Mundial favourites Ot Azoj break onto the North American stage with their artful blend of old-time Klezmer, contemporary Eastern European folk music and the Klezmer revival sound for a heartwarming experience that is at once energetic, melancholic and joyous. Concert takes place at 8:00 p.m., Saturday, September 4 on the CIBC Stage at Harbourfront Centre.


From the vanguard of klezmer to their Canadian premiere at Ashkenaz, Berlin duo Khupe’s (Christian Dawid and Sanne Möricke) intense musical dialogue defies paradoxes with improvisation and innovation that remains true to Klezmer’s roots. Concert takes place at 9:30 p.m., Sunday, September 5, and 2:15 p.m., Monday, September 6 at on the CIBC Stage at Harbourfront Centre.


French-Canadian 8-member band Manouche pushes the envelope with sexy, energetic, contemporary renditions of old Yiddish standards at 5:30 p.m., Sunday, September 5, at Harbourfront Centre’s Toronto Star Stage. They are part of a contingent of Quebec performers at the festival, which also includes the harmonica styling of Shtreiml and the unique cabaret performer Jeszce Raz. Concluding a quintet of French oriented musicians at Ashkenaz are the brilliant players in France’s premiere klezmer group Les Yeux Noirs.


Ashkenaz: A Festival of New Yiddish Culture will feature a jam-packed weekend of film, theatre, literature, lectures and storytelling as well as music. Film buffs will be entertained by the Toronto premiere of Yiddishist and documentarian Yale Strom’s latest feature Klezmer on Fish Street. 1935’s French-Czech cult film, The Golem, the hilarious Catskill Honeymoon, and the Edgar Ulmer and Moishe Oysher melodrama The Singing Blacksmith (Yankel Dem Schmidt) anchor the film program with classics. Rafael Goldwaser presents his one man theatrical show, S’brent, It Burns while David Buchbinder’s Feast of the East dance party gets Harbourfront Centre’s Brigantine Room hopping.  Kids and Yiddish returns with Farmisht and Far-fetched!, a spectacular multi-media initiation into a world of Yiddish language and culture. And not to be missed, the Ashkenaz Festival Parade will transport families around a Harbourfront Centre magically transformed by hundreds of artists and musicians. 


Full festival details will be announced in early August.

For more information about all performances, the public can call 416-973-4000 or visit www.harboufrontcentre.com and www.ashkenazfestival.com.



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Media Contact:

Heather Kelly Communications
416-364-5701, heather@heatherk.ca
www.heatherk.ca




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