2016 Ashkenaz Festival

Hard to believe it’s that time again, but the 11th biennial Ashkenaz Festival is now less than two months away. Our dedicated staff have been working feverishly to put all the pieces of this massive, one-of-a-kind event together. Once again we’ll be bringing the best of the international Jewish culture scene to Toronto for one glorious jam-packed week at the end of the summer, and like always, most of it is free. This year, our 90+ events will include more than 250 artists hailing from across Canada, the US, Israel, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Brazil, and…wait for it…Japan!

Headline programming includes the following:

  • The Grammy award-winning Klezmatics, celebrating their 30th anniversary with a new CD release concert at the Festival-opening, Annual Summer Yiddish Concert at Richmond Hill Performing Arts Centre
  • The return of Jewish-funk supergroup Abraham Inc, featuring the titanic trio of klezmer clarinet master David Krakauer, legendary funk trombonist and arranger Fred Wesley (James Brown, George Clinton), and Canada’s own Yiddish hip-hop renegade Socalled.
  • An overarching festival theme observing the 100th yarzheit of iconic Yiddish writer Sholom Aleichem (1859-1916)
  • The Canadian premiere of the acclaimed Yiddish-language version of Arthur Miller’s iconic Death of a Salesman (Toyt Fun a Seylsman), starring the original New York cast, featuring Avi Hoffman, who was nominated for a Drama Desk award for his brilliant portrayal of Willy Loman in last year’s NY production of this show
  • North American premiere of Germany’s Semer Ensemble, a supergroup of Klezmer/Yiddish music luminaries from Berlin, recreating music recorded on the German-Jewish Semer Records label in the 1930s, and then lost and believed destroyed by the Nazis.
  • A multidisciplinary commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the creation of the Venice Ghetto (the world’s first Jewish ghetto), including a performance by Italy’s Lucidarium Ensemble, a lecture by renowned Venician-Jewish scholar Shaul Bassi, and a traveling museum exhibit.
  • Unique musical projects that build bridges across musical cultures, including: the  outstanding Japanese klezmer group Jinta La Mvta; Hungarian folk music legends Muszikás; Sephardic group Janet and Jak Esim Ensemble from Turkey; and a Jewish-Persian musical project with the Israeli-Iranian Musical Initiative.
  • Performances by some of the top up-and-coming musicians and bands in the contemporary Jewish  music scene, including: Hassidic-Reggae hipsters, Zusha; 21st century Sephardic and Mediterranean music with Israel’s Baladino; middle-eastern/Americana fusion with NYC’s Sandcatchers;
  • Stalwarts of the Canadian folk and world music scene, Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra, Beyond the Pale, Ventanas, Nomadica, and the ever-popular Lemon Bucket Orkestra
  • The Ashkenaz Parade and popular kids/family programming, including a puppet show based on a Sholem Aleichem story, and readings of Dr. Seuss in Yiddish by Avi Hoffman.
  • A new focus on Jewish food and Jewish foodways, featuring many of Toronto’s leading Jewish food personalities and others from further afield
  • The launch of the new Theodore Bikel Artist-In-Residence program
  • A week of workshops and masterclasses in Klezmer and Yiddish music, culminating in “student” performances at Harbourfront Centre
  • and much, much more….

Join us at Harbourfront Centre and other venues across the GTA for an unforgettable week of music, culture, community, and spectacle. Be sure to follow us on Facebook or join our email list to keep up with the most current info.

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