It’s only been three years since the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst launched Yidstock, its annual festival of klezmer and new Yiddish music. But the four-day festival—this year, running from July 17 to 20—has already become a can’t-miss event for both long-time enthusiasts and newcomers to the dynamic, ever-evolving genre.
Indeed, this year’s Yidstock lineup of international artists spans several generations of the most accomplished and influential klezmer musicians, including those who revived the music in the 1980s, those who made it blossom during the klezmer renaissance of the 1990s, and those who are blazing new trails well into the 21st century. The renowned modern klezmer bands The Klezmatics and the Klezmer Conservatory Band will headline the festival; the Berlin-based Daniel Kahn & the Painted Bird will also play, bringing a political, activist edge to their music, which they describe as “alienation klezmer.”
Photo: The Klezmatics
On Sunday, Basya Schechter, founder of Pharaoh’s Daughter, presents Songs of Wonder (The Heschel Project), which sets to music the Yiddish poetry of civil rights activist and philosopher Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. The festival also features a performance by Nigunim Trio, with the Klezmatics’ Lorin Sklamberg and Frank London and pianist Rob Schwimmer. The curtain will come down on Yidstock 2014 when Frank London’s Klezmer Brass Allstars, featuring acclaimed Yiddish vocalist Eleanor Reissa, take to the stage Sunday evening—a concert guaranteed to have everyone dancing.
Photo: Eleanor Reissa
In addition to the concerts, Yidstock features workshops and talks, including two Yiddish Folk Dance workshops led by internationally renowned Yiddish dance teacher Steve Weintraub; a lecture by Hankus Netsky, founder of the Klezmer Conservatory Band; an instrumental klezmer workshop with Brian Bender; a Yiddish song workshop with Asya Vaisman Schulman; and a multimedia journey through a thousand years of klezmer history by author and music critic Seth Rogovoy, who programs the annual event.
Photo: Seth Rogovoy taken by Fred Collins
And hungry festivalgoers will be pleased to find a Yosi Kitchen falafel tent on site serving an assortment of great food.
To see the full Yidstock schedule and to order tickets, visit yiddishbookcenter.org/yidstock or call 413-256-4900.
While Festival Tickets have sold out, tickets for individual events are still available – but don’t delay, because they are selling fast.
Yidstock will be held, rain or shine, indoors at the Yiddish Book Center at 1021 West St., Amherst, Mass. The Center is handicapped accessible. For those visiting the area from afar, there are several places to stay nearby.
Photo at the top courtesy of the Yiddish Book Center via Facebook
Maureen Turner is Communications Coordinator at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst.