Julius: All-Star Yiddish Vocal Quartet
Featuring Josh Dolgin, Anthony Russell, Mitch Smolkin, and David Wall
Sunday May 17, 2015, 7PM
Temple Sinai, 210 Wilson Avenue
For tickets, call 416-487-4161 or follow this link.
Julius is a vocal supergroup featuring some of Canada’s leading contemporary performers and creators of original Yiddish vocal music. The quartet was originally commissioned for a special performance as part of the 2006 Ashkenaz Festival. Living in different cities and busy pursuing their own individual musical careers, the group has not performed together since their world premiere nine years ago. The reunited quartet will feature three of the original members, Canadians David Wall, Josh Dolgin, and Mitch Smolkin, joined by American Yiddish operatic-bass Anthony Russell. Together, this formidable group represents an unprecedented union of internationally-distinguished artists whose work reveals vital new directions in contemporary Yiddish music.
Using close harmony techniques more associated with the practice of American Barbershop Quartet, the members of Julius forge an entirely new sound drawn from a variety of Jewish singing techniques and repertoire (Cantorial, Hassidic, Yiddish folk, and art song), as well as their own individual expertise in diverse musical styles. The group performs new four-part harmony arrangements of traditional material, as well as fresh original compositions rendered in the same fashion. There is no other group like this in the international Yiddish music scene.
Montreal’s Josh Dolgin (aka. Socalled) is one of Canada’s top Jewish music artists. His revolutionary fusion of traditional Yiddish and Jewish music styles with hip, rap and funk has put him at the vanguard of a new generation bringing Yiddish music into the mainstream. He has lectured and led master classes in music festivals around the world, from Moscow to Paris, London to LA, Krakow to San Francisco, and has performed on every continent in the world. His list of collaborators knows no generational, social, cultural or religious boundaries, including: David Krakauer, Chilly Gonzales, Fred Wesley, Enrico Macias, Boban Markovic, the Mighty Sparrow, Roxanne Shante, Irving Fields, Killah Priest, Matisyahu, Theodore Bikel, Katie Moore, Derrick Carter, and many more.
African-American by birth and Jewish by choice, Oakland’s Anthony Russell is among the freshest new voices in the contemporary Yiddish music scene. Trained and experienced as an operatic basso profundo, his discovery of Yiddish art song a few years ago has provided him a new canvas for the expression of his own multifaceted identity, personified most powerfully in his show “Convergence” which combines African-America spirituals with Yiddish art song. Anthony has recently starred in the role of Adam in Veretski Pass’s daring show “Lilith, The Night Demon in One Lewd Act,” and he has also devoted himself to the recital repertoire of Sidor Belarsky (1898-1975), one of the twentieth century’s most prolific performers of cantorial music, Chassidic nigunim and Yiddish art song. Anthony’s work in Yiddish has brought him to the JCC in Manhattan, Symphony Space, the Ideacity Conference, KlezKanada, the Montreal and Berkeley Jewish Music Festivals, and performances at the last two Ashkenaz Festivals in Toronto.
Mitch Smolkin is an actor, singer, and cultural innovator. Over the past 15 years, he has held concerts around the world, highlights of which include tours of South America, Israel, the United States and Canada including a milestone performance at the Glenn Gould Studio at the CBC. Other highlights include performing at the legendary Town Hall on Broadway in a tribute to Carl Reiner, off-Broadway with the late Bruce Adler, at the Lincoln Center and with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at the Mayor’s Ball in Toronto. He has shared the stage with such notable performers as Mandy Patinkin, Jerry Stiller, Theodore Bikel, Bibi Neuwirth and more than one puppet from Sesame Street. In 2008, Mitch Smolkin released his debut album A Song Is Born. It was called “the most exciting, inventive, beautiful, and just plain interesting Yiddish album in years” by Ari Dovidow at the Klezmershack. He was the Artistic Director of the internationally renowned Ashkenaz Festival from 2001 to 2006 and an artistic associate and producer with Harbourfront Centre, Canada’s largest cultural presenter, from 2008 to 2011.
Composer, lyricist, singer and vocal coach David Wall first gained fame in the late 80s and 90s as lead vocalist of the much revered rhythm and blues band the Bourbon Tabernacle Choir, with whom he toured Canada extensively and appeared regularly on television and radio. He has performed and recorded with an impressive cross-section of artists including Big Sugar, The Barenaked Ladies, Lorraine Segato and Ken Whiteley. His most recent musical journey as a singer has been into the world of Jewish tradition, where he has achieved success recording and touring internationally as lead voice of Toronto’s Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band and Winnipeg’s From Both Ends Of The Earth. He has written a large repertoire of songs in an assortment of genres from pop and rock to gospel, blues and jazz. He has contributed original Yiddish songs and settings of modern Yiddish poetry to his Jewish music projects, including collaborative work with acclaimed jazz pianist Marilyn Lerner. Since 2001 David has developed a busy career as a television and film composer, working with directors such as Simcha Jacobovici, Avi Lewis, Michael Maclear and John Greyson. More recently David has also worked on many experimental and multi-media musical projects in collaboration with designer Bruce Mau and with filmmaker John Greyson.