Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Jewish arts festival is a treat, a shining San Diego star

Distinguished bass player Bert Turetsky delighted Jewish Festival jazz lovers.

The 20th annual Lipinsky Family Jewish Arts Festival is heating up to a happy, enthusiastic audience eager to celebrate the variety of talent and remarkable gifts the culture shares with San Diego and the world.
Monday evening's 12th annual Klezmer Summit -- "Jews in Jazz" -- had a nearly full Lyceum Theater crowd clapping, cheering, reminiscing and noshing.
The extravaganza at the Lyceum was a jazz lover's paradise, with world class musicians playing tunes that speak to the rich musical heritage of the culture.
From the moment Bert Turetsky took center stage at a pre-show talk and demonstration, the spell was cast. An evening of pure musical joy and cultural celebration awaited!
The master double bass player Turetsky entertained a lobby audience with anecdotes about his life in music and the evolution of the double bass from a stalwart accompanist and rhythm-keeper to  a respected solo instrument and occasional star of the show.
Violinist Yale Strom delivered a rousing evening.
Inside, as the performance began, versatile violinist Yale Strom artfully took the nearly full house through a magnificent medley of Yiddish tunes, giving generous solo time to each of the fine ensemble and peppering the numbers with anecdotes and history.
Accordianist Lou Fanucchi, horn player Tripp Sprague, trumpeter Gilbert Castellenos, guitarist Fred Benedetti, drummer Duncan Moore and Jeff Pekarek on bass all took turns in the spotlight. And Strom showed his own musicianship with deftly delivered solo bits.
Only a day before, headlining Los Angeles cellist Fred Katz, at nearly 93 and not feeling well, decided he couldn't make the show, so Turetsky stepped in, along with gifted woodwind player Norbert Stachel, who dazzled the audience with his versatility and spirit.
He made the clarinet sing, capturing the true spirit of "klezmer" with all its sense of fun and melancholy. In a colorful striped shirt he commanded the stage, delighting the audience with triumph after technical triumph in styles ranging from folk to classical, befitting the mixture "klezmer" represents, playing flute and tambourine, too.
The "klezmer" was a professional folk musician and the music we recognize as such borrows from Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Russia. The night was international -- from the audience of all walks of life and
Clarinetist (and much more) Norbert Stachel delighted the Lyceum crowd
as Yale Strom, violinist, gave each musician his solo time to shine.
many ethnic persuasions, all sharing knishes at intermission, and appreciating the deep connection of "Jewish music" to the music of many other cultures -- African, Middle-Eastern, and Turkish in particular with its syncopated rhythms. Singer Elizabeth Schwartz did two sets with the ensemble, ending the evening with the Andrew Sisters' famous hit, "Bay Mir Bistu Sheyn".  Her beautiful contralto voice ran the emotional gamut -- longing, frustration, determination and happiness.
The fantastic Jewish arts festival continues with "Chagall" this Sunday at La Jolla Playhouse," a new dance musical in workshop at LJP.
The writer and photographer enjoy!

Then  "Soulfarm"  performs June 17 at Temple Solel, the Israel-founded group which has wowed audiences internationally and earned a Grammy for its lead guitarist C Lanzbom. There's more!
The festival wraps with Soulfarm's June 18, 7:30 p.m. finale in the Lyceum Stage, where all the fun began. The band has opened for Brue Hornsby, Shawn Colvin and George Clinton and is lauded for its versatility in improvisation of world music.
 Singer Elizabeth Schwartz sang Yiddish balads and the hit song "Bay Mir Bistu Sheyn" to a delighted crowd at Lyceum.

Knish, anyone? You bet.
Artistic director Todd Salovey, at the fest's helm since the beginning, invited the crowd to sample  knishes at intermission and thanked the Lipinsky family for its vision and financial support. Salovey deserves huge kudos for his enthusiasm in keeping this inspirational series of artful programs alive and growing each year. Mazel tov!

COMING SATURDAY: We look at the Lyceum's upcoming year of performances which offer "art, sex and revolution". or 619-544-1000 for tickets and more information on either the Jewish festival or the Lyceum's upcoming sextet of shows. Keep the comments coming to our Wednesday and Saturday posts at
We'll be sailing on the gorgeous Jada, flying high at the glider port and taking in a tango show soon!

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