Regina Spektor! Free Concert on the National Mall, June 1

We’ve been keeping this under our hat for a while now, but at last we can shout it to the world: Regina Spektor will be performing along with the seminal Israeli rock band Mashina on the National Mall as part of the community-wide celebration of Israel@60 on June 1. The concert is part of the opening day of the Washington Jewish Music Festival.

In many ways, Regina is the perfect performer for the occassion: Russian-born, she was part of the large emigration of Russian Jews to Israel and the United States when the Iron Curtain crumbled in the late 80s. Eventually settling in Brooklyn, Regina went to Jewish and public schools growing up with her musically-inclined family and practicing piano in the basement of her local synagogue. Appropriately enough, she first realized she could be a songwriter on a trip to Israel when she was a 16:

As she and her fellow travelers hiked in the desert, Regina would make up little songs and melodies to fill the time.

“I noticed that some kids would always try to hike next to me and ask me to sing particular songs that I had made up,” she recalls. “So I started trying to remember them. By the end of the trip, all these kids were telling me that I had to write songs!
“It had never occurred to me,” she continues. “To me, the mentality was you sit at the piano and play Bach or Mozart or Chopin. You didn’t ever improvise, so the idea of writing my own music was an intimidating one.”
“The way I got into music was totally backwards,” she says. “I’d write a song and someone would tell me, ‘That sounds like Joni Mitchell,’ and I’d go, ‘Who?'”

As part of the New York anti-folk scene (along with Beck, Ani DiFranco and Kimya Dawson), Regina’s songs have gained increasing popularity and have been used on the soundtracks of many television series including Weeds, Grey’s Anatomy and Brothers & Sisters. The video for her song Fidelity has been viewed over 4 million times on youtube. Heck, we’re gonna stop gushing and you can click below to help her on her way to 5 million.

Save the date now. June 1 is going to be awesome!

Opening Night of The Price at Theater J

Ari Roth posts from his curtain speech at the Theater J Blog:

In one of his most famous essays, TRAGEDY AND THE COMMON MAN, written almost 60 years ago, Arthur Miller wrote, “It is time, I think, that we who are without kings, took up this bright thread of our history—that the plays we tend to revere century after century, are the tragedies. In them, and in them alone, lies the optimistic belief in the perfectibility of man—and that we follow that thread to the only place it can lead in our time – to the heart and spirit of the average man.”

We are reminded by events on this day that we live in a time without kings. Even the people who remind us of this, our Great Authors and celebrity noble man, are not without their own contradictions, hypocrisies. The art and the life of Arthur Miller make us aware of this profound truth; that we can be wise and full of achievement
Even as we betray that achievement.
“We invent ourselves to wipe out what we know,” a character will tell us tonight in The Price. Has there ever been a wiser, more prophetic line, about America? Or about ourselves?

Let us not be in denial about what we appreciate most tonight: the giants amongst us; the fabulous human beings. We begin with our author, and welcome him back; welcome him home, to one of many places where he will forever belong. And to the family at the center of this drama and this production, the Proskys, welcome back to DC and welcome to your new home at Theater J.

He’s got a great post about the Opening Night, and as someone who was there, it was truly an electric evening.

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