To Sefarad and Beyond: Dr. Judith Cohen

The Victoria Jewish Community Choir (VJCC) will continue its Journeys in Jewish Music fall series on Monday, October 18, 2021, at 7 pm with Dr. Judith Cohen discussing To Sefarad and Beyond, A Personal Journey. The talk will take place on Zoom. In an informal interview with moderator Carol Sokoloff, Dr. Cohen shares her personal tales of a journey which took her from her youth in Montreal to the land of Spain and beyond.

Dr. Cohen writes, “Fifty years ago I crossed the border into Spain on the lumbering old train from France, with one small bag and a dictionary. The word Sefarad was not yet in my vocabulary. I was part of the 60s folk revival, sang French Canadian and Yiddish songs, and played classical clarinet. I had been to the-then-Yugoslavia and loved the music—but had no knowledge of Spain or Spanish anything. This is an informal account of how I got from there to here, with songs and stories—and Carol’s and all of your questions!”

Dr. Judith Cohen of York University is an acclaimed ethnomusicologist and performer specializing in Sephardic music, also known as Judeo-Spanish or Ladino song. In Sephardic music we hear the tales of so many times and places from the well-remembered culture of Spain to the various lands Jews settled in after their expulsion in 1492.

You won’t want to miss this fascinating conversation which examines the questions of what makes Sephardic music so universally appealing, and how it has survived through centuries and numerous.

Send a note to register for this and all the Journeys in Jewish Music series. All are welcome and the talks are free of charge thanks to the generous support of the Jewish Federation of Victoria and Vancouver Island.

  • Join online: CLICK HERE
  • Regular Dial-in: Call: 1 778 907 2071
  • Meeting ID: 958 9049 0481
  • Passcode: 333095

The Barry Sisters and Yiddish Swing

Monday, October 4, 2021, at 7 pm on Zoom—The Victoria Jewish Community Choir (VJCC) will continue its Journeys in Jewish Music fall series on Monday, October 4, 2021, at 7 pm with broadcaster Andy Muchin as he explores the delightful Yiddish singing group, The Barry Sisters and the revival of what was known as Yiddish Swing.

The Barry Sisters—Claire and Merna—were early stars of this style, and their lively renditions outlasted the swing craze and reenergized Yiddish song in the Americas. With their sweet, tight harmonies and consummate artistry, the sisters performed on radio and television, at nightclubs, and on concert stages for some 35 years including a 1959 US friendship tour of the Soviet Union as star performers. The Barry Sisters recorded mostly, Yiddish songs on numerous 78 rpm discs and LPs.

Not only will this presentation explore the Barry Sisters’ brilliant career during and after Yiddish Swing, it will also take a toe-tapping detour through some of the best Yiddish swing recordings from artists as diverse as klezmer clarinetist, Dave Tarras, and jazz singer/songwriter Slim Gaillard.

Andy Muchin has hosted the weekly Sounds Jewish radio show on Mississippi Public Broadcasting and Radio-J.com since 2010. He has written about Jewish music for Forward newspaper, Moment Magazine, and other publications.

All are welcome to attend this exciting Zoom presentation for free, thanks to the Jewish Federation of Victoria and Vancouver Island (JFVVI). To register (and receive full information) on this and the other sessions this fall please send us a note.

Join online: CLICK HERE
Regular Dial-in: Call: 1 778 907 2071
Meeting ID: 961 0251 7947
Passcode: 657412

Music of the High Holy Days

Monday, September 13, 2021, 7–8:30 pm—The Journeys in Jewish Music: Part 2 offered by the Victoria Jewish Community Choir (VJCC) opens on Monday, September 13, 2021, at 7:00 pm with Music of the High Holy Days presented by Moshe Denburg of the musical group Tzimmes. Moshe will share the deeper musical meaning of High Holy Day traditions by delving into the modes and melodies used at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to enhance the prayers and their meaning. Moshe will also focus on the cantillation system used in High Holy Day Torah readings. Musical examples, both recorded and live, will be presented, along with opportunities for singing along.

Moshe Denburg is an award-winning composer, arranger, and music educator whose works have been widely performed in Canada, the US, and internationally. Moshe hails from a well-known Montreal rabbinical family, and is known for his extensive knowledge of Jewish liturgy and musical practices. Moving west in 1982, he started the world-music ensemble Tzimmes in 1986 while studying composition at the University of Victoria. A life-long musician, Moshe studied in the US, Israel, India, and Japan, and is the founder of the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra (VICO), which brings together the instrumental and musical resources of many cultures.

To register for this session, please send an email to the following address: jewishmusictalks@gmail.com

About Journeys in Music: Part 2

VJCC Journeys in Jewish Music: Part 2

First session Monday, September 13, 2021—The Victoria Jewish Community Choir (VJCC) is pleased to announce six new conversations in its well-received Journeys in Jewish Music series. The talks feature outstanding presenters including performers, rabbis, cantors, broadcasters and academics; are held on Zoom; and are free of charge thanks to the support of the Jewish Federation of Victoria and Vancouver Island (JFVVI).

The next six conversations will take place at 7 pm on Monday evenings from September 13 to November 29, 2021, and will be moderated by Carol Sokoloff, co-director of the Victoria Jewish Choir. The series opens on Monday, September 13, 2021, Music of the High Holidays with Moshe Denburg of Tzimmes.

The Fall series includes following presentations:

  • Monday, September 13, 2021, Music of the High Holidays with Moshe Denburg of Tzimmes
  • Monday, October 4, 2021, The Barry Sisters and Yiddish Swing with broadcaster Andy Muchin
  • Monday, October 18, 2021, To Sefarad and Beyond—A Personal Journey with Dr. Judith Cohen of York University
  • Monday, November 1, 2021Innovations in Liturgy with Rabbi Louis Sutker
  • Monday, November 15, 2021, The Cantor’s Gift with Cantor Rob Menes, former director of the Victoria Jewish Community Choir
  • Monday, November 29, 2021, Songs of Chanuka with Kouskous (Gary Cohen and Amber Woods) and Friends
Continue reading VJCC Journeys in Jewish Music: Part 2

And there was music

 The Journeys in Jewish Music series produced by the Victoria Jewish Community Choir (VJCC) wrapped up on Sunday, June 20, 2021 with an engaging session on Klezmer music by Moshe Denburg. VJCC is grateful for the funding from the Jewish Federation of Victoria and Vancouver Island (JFVVI) which, along with the support of our community sponsor Congregation Emanu-El, the enthusiasm of the many who participated and those who made donations, made the program possible.

We are incredibly pleased to announce that JFVVI has granted us another generous allotment which makes it possible to continue the series in the Fall with an additional six Zoom presentations. We are now organizing this series and welcome any suggestions regarding content or knowledgeable presenters. The talks are scheduled for Monday evenings following the High Holydays, and dates and details will be released as available. If you registered for the previous series, you will automatically be notified and sent the links.

To register or send comments or suggestions please send a note to: jewishmusictalks@gmail.com.
The Victoria Jewish Community Choir is non-auditioned and welcomes all voices. The Choir will re-convene as soon as regulations permit. If you are interested in joining the choir, please contact co-director Carol Sokoloff at casjazz@islandnet.com.

The Way of the Klezmer: Klezmer and Yiddish Song

Sunday, June 20, 2021, at 7:30 pm—Journeys of Jewish Music, sponsored by the Victoria Jewish Community Choir, brings Moshe Denburg back for the sixth and last conversation in the series. Moshe will explore the Ashkenazi stream of Jewish music and answer some of the following questions: What is Klezmer? What are its modes and rhythms? How is Yiddish song associated with the Klezmer tradition? How have Ashkenazi traditions of Jewish music-making evolved over the past 150 years? There will be musical examples sung and played live with participation encouraged. For advance information on the subject, consult this essay on the Tzimmes website: http://www.tzimmes.net/jewish-music/the-way-of-the-klezmer/

Moshe Denburg is an award-winning composer, arranger, and music educator whose works have been widely performed in Canada, the US, and internationally. Moshe hails from a well-known Montreal Rabbinical family; he moved to the West coast in 1982. Having grown up in the synagogue, his knowledge of Jewish liturgy and musical practices is deeply rooted. He has traveled worldwide, living, and studying in the US, Israel, India and Japan. A life-long musician, Moshe has sung and written songs in Jewish and Middle Eastern idioms extensively. He started his ensemble Tzimmes in Victoria in 1986; he studied composition at UVic. Moshe is committed to presenting Jewish Music in its many styles and languages. His music incorporates Klezmer (European), Sephardi (Mediterranean), and North American Folk influences in several languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, and English. Moshe is also the founder of the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra and has written many large scale compositions which bring together the instrumental and musical resources of many cultures. 

Join online: CLICK HERE
Regular Dial-in: Call: 1 778 907 2071
Meeting ID: 943 1192 7875

Sing a New Song to G!d

Monday, June 7, 2021, from 7:30 -8:45 pmJourneys of Jewish Music sponsored by the Victoria Jewish Community Choir welcomes Rabbi Hanna Tiferet Siegel who will continue our series with Sing a New Song to G!d: New Prayer Compositions.

The phrase, “Sing a New Song to G!d” is found in several psalms. Rabbi Hanna—composer of new liturgical music—will explore the creation of soulful songs of Jewish prayer, and share her experience as part of a moment when new melodies were pouring into the world. She affirms that,  through inspiration and connection, one may open the heart to “the mystery” tapping into grace.

Rabbi Hanna  will share her own compositions, and some exquisite prayer songs currently flowing through gifted young composers. These songs invite the joy of transcendence, and the experience of oneness that bring about a kind of ecstasy for composer, listener, and those who sing. Rabbi Hanna is a poet and composer of mystical music, who has recorded eight albums of original liturgical compositions. With her husband, Rabbi Daniel, she has helped build and sustain communities in Vancouver BC, Hanover NH, and Boston, MA. She also serves as a spiritual guide in the ALEPH Clergy Program. 

To register for this session, please send an email to the following address: jewishmusictalks@gmail.com

Join online: CLICK HERE
Regular Dial-in: Call: 1 778 907 2071
Meeting ID: 978 7083 2754

Nigunim: Ḥasidic Meditative Melodies

Monday, May 31, 2021 at 7:30 pm— The Journeys of Jewish Music series sponsored by the Victoria Jewish Community Choir continues with Rabbi Matt Ponak presenting Nigunim: Ḥasidic Meditative Melodies.

There are gates in heaven that cannot be opened except by melody and song.” — Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, 18th century

The Hebrew word nigun literally means “melody.” It is commonly understood as a meditative song without words. Since the origins of the Ḥasidic movement in the 1700s, nigunim (pl.) have been sung alone, or in groups, to cultivate an experiential connection with the Divine. Some nigunim are joyful, some are sad, others are deep and contemplative. Join Rabbi Matthew Ponak for an exploration of the different shades of Ḥasidic melodies through stories, teachings, and live singing. 

Rabbi Matthew Ponak is a musician and teacher of embodied transformation. His 2016 album Bridges of Song contains traditional and original nigunim with bluegrass instrumentation. Rabbi Matthew received ordination through Hebrew College Rabbinical School and also holds an MA in Contemplative Religions from the Buddhist-inspired Naropa University. He weaves world wisdom with ancient Jewish insights when he teaches and leads contemplative singing. 

To register for this session, please send an email to the following address: jewishmusictalks@gmail.com

For further information on Journeys in Jewish Music,  please consult: https://www.facebook.com/Victoria-Jewish-Community-Choir-108274344696698 or contact Carol at: casjazz@islandnet.com

Jewish Music & the Holocaust

Sunday, May 30, 2021, at 7 pmCongregation Emanu-El Adult Education Team invites you to join Dr. Suzanne Snizek, when she will introduce the concept of “suppressed music” through musical examples and biographical sketches, and discuss some of the contemporary issues and challenges related to reinstating music that was marginalized for racist and ideological reasons during the Shoah.

Suzanne Snizek has performed and presented extensively throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Dr. Snizek’s groundbreaking research on Music in WWII British Internment Camps has been published by Böhlau Verlag-Vienna, Routledge-New York, the Council of Europe, Berghann-New York, Armand Colin-Paris, and online by the World ORT website.

A former winner of the national Flute Talk Magazine Competition, the UArts Concerto Competition, the New York Flute Club Competition and the Mid-South Young Artist Flute Competition, Suzanne Snizek has performed with the ESO (National Orchestra of Taiwan), and was an active freelance orchestral and chamber musician before receiving her DMA at UBC (Vancouver) in 2011. Currently an Associate Professor at the University of Victoria, Dr. Snizek released her critically acclaimed CD titled Chamber Music (Re)Discoveries in 2016, and subsequently received the 2017 REACH award for “Excellence in Creative Expression” from the University of Victoria.

Join online: CLICK HERE
Regular Dial-in: Call: 1 778 907 2071
Meeting ID: 851 7500 7001
Passcode: 141429

Donations to our Adult Education fund are always welcome. You may donate ONLINE or through the office at info@congregationemanuel.ca

Call from the East: The Mizrahi Tradition

On Sunday, May 23, 2021, at 7:30 pm, Journeys of Jewish Music sponsored by the Victoria Jewish Community Choir continues with a Call from the East: The Mizrahi Tradition with Gary Cohen and Amber Woods.

For centuries, Jews lived in Arabic countries where their music influenced, and was influenced by, the local culture. This music has been called Mizraḥi—the Hebrew term for “Eastern”. Gary Cohen and Amber Woods of the world folk duo, Kouskous, will share the flavours and rhythms of various regions of the Middle East and Mediterranean basin—including Morocco, Turkey and Yemen. Through musical examples, they will explore the influence of the Sephardic populations, the features of Arabic music, and the unique traditions of several regions. With infectious rhythms and intoxicating melodies, this promises to be a most engaging journey to the East. 

Gary Cohen began his musical career as a teenager. He was inspired by his mother’s singing of Jewish songs, and was greatly influenced by his friend, teacher and mentor, Moshe Denburg. Gary was a co-founder of Tzimmes, and has played in a number of bands, ranging from Greek to Klezmer.  Currently he fronts the world folk music duo, Kouskous.

Amber Woods came to music through many years of folk dancing, and her studies of Egyptian Dance with Carol Sokoloff.  The wonderful rhythms moved her to study the Middle Eastern hand drum and tambourine.  She is the other half of the world folk music duo, Kouskous.

To register for this session, please send an email to the following address: jewishmusictalks@gmail.com

For further information on Journeys in Jewish Music,  please consult: https://www.facebook.com/Victoria-Jewish-Community-Choir-108274344696698 or contact Carol at: casjazz@islandnet.com