If You’re Coming to See Regina Spektor or Anything Else at Israel@60 on the National Mall

Then stop by the Washington DCJCC’s Israeli Culture Pavillion (tent #3 on your map). The schedule of events includes:

12:15–Israeli Literature in Translation (read by Joel Snyder)

  • “At The Outset of the Day” by S.Y. Agnon
  • “An Autobiographical Note” by Amos Oz
  • excerpt from “The Lover” by A.B. Yehoshua

12:45–Short Films from the Best of the Sam Spiegel Film School in Jerusalem (Program Aleph)

  • Personal Goals by Ran Carmeli
  • Home by David Ofek
  • The Substitute by Talya Lavie

Continue reading


WJMF Sound Byte: Soulico Crew

Soulico CrewThe Washington Jewish Music Festival kick-off parties have a tremendous track record for picking hot up-and-coming artists, setting them in a cool DC club and then opening the doors for a slammin’ night of music and dancing. In the past the Kick-Off party has featured the likes of Y-Love, Yuri Lane and dj handler. Keeping with that hip-hop vibe, the Festival hosts its kick-off party this Saturday night, May 31 with DJ Crew Soulico at Station 9.

There isn’t a more interesting sub-genre of Jewish music right now than what’s happening in hip-hop, and Soulico’s DJ skills hit the trifecta of massive beats mixed with classic urban rhymes set against a host of middle eastern and Jewish melodies. It is the kind of music custom made for a warm Saturday night in late spring with a Tel Aviv nightclub vibe (complete with a 10pm start time) combined in a cool DC setting that can match anything else on the after-hours scene. It’s time to get your party on.

For a taste of what I’m talking about, check out the clip below, “Rock and Roll Bump” a mix of the classic 80s Israeli rock group T-Slam and Philadelphia hip-hop outfit Spank Rock.

WJMF Sound Byte: Ayelet Rose Gottlieb–How Beautiful You Are

Ayelet Rose GottliebWhenever you set out to compose and perform a song cycle set to “the erotic Biblical love poem of Song of Songs,” you better bring a voice equipped for the task. It is clear from a even a quick listen that Ayelet Rose Gottlieb has the chops to pull off such an endeavor when she performs on Sunday evening, June 1 at Bohemian Caverns as part of the Washington Jewish Music Festival. 

Because of its biblical origins, Song of Songs often gets kid-glove treatment, especially when it comes to some of its steamier sequences. I’ve always been a fan of those who are able to incorporate the sensuality inherent in the text without either de-sexing it or erring in the other direction and making it sound like a letter to Penthouse forum. Rose Gottlieb’s pipes and the accompanying instrumentation seem to do the trick and while the clip below isn’t from her album Mayim Rabim, it does show off the expressiveness of her voice. The clip is What’s Done is Done off her 2004 album Internal-External.


WJMF Sound Byte: Davka and The Golem

Daniel Hoffman and Davka perform their live score for The GolemI remember shortly around the time I graduated from college I started hearing from friends about how if you turned the volume off while watching the movie The Wizard of Oz and substituted Pink Floyd’s album Dark Side of the Moon as the soundtrack, the two lined up with amazing results. The resulting phenomenon has been alternately called The Wizard of Floyd and Dark Side of the Rainbow.

It blew our minds that it worked so well–a movie from 1939 reinterpreted thanks to an album released in 1973 which we enjoyed at the height of our slackerdom in the early 1990s. It taught me a powerful lesson of how music can heighten the sensation of film watching.

Better however, than hearing canned music accompanying a DVD, is the visceral experience of hearing a live ensemble accompanying a film projected through celluloid onto a cinema screen. That’s what Daniel Hoffman and Davka will be doing when they perform their live score to the silent movie classic The Golem at the Washington Jewish Music Festival on Tuesday, June 3.

The GolemIt is another opportunity to appreciate the musical genius that is Daniel Hoffman’s, who is also the composer of David in Shadow and Light and currently performing five times a week in the band accompanying the show (I’d call it the pit orchestra except that they perform on a platform above the stage). Click below for a little taste of what you’ll hear as Daniel is reunited with his longtime band members from Davka. The clip is “Florian’s Theme” from their live soundtrack for The Golem.

Shabbat Surfing: One Week To Go

There was a lot of hubub this week about how the National Mall is a disgrace. Like this blogger, we couldn’t disagree more. And with next week’s enormous Israel @ 60 Capital Celebration on the Mall featuring Regina Spektor, Mandy Patinkin, Mashina and characters from Sesame Street, we hope to restore the proud reputation of the Mall. Oh, and note to self, good choice not including Jackie Mason.

The news that Israel is in negotiations for a peace treaty with Syria adds an ironic postscript to President Bush’s comments to the Israeli Knesset last week about “appeasement” and make this guy look even dumber.

Rabbi Mordechai Rackover of Beth Shalom Congregation in Potomac begins a guest blogging gig at the Jew and the Carrot by lamenting the kosher dining scene in the area as “kosher culinary hell.” He’s on a quest for “deeper flavor profiles and ecstatic moments with well-crafted sausages and cheeses (just not at the same time) and really amazing wine.”

Finally, annoy a theater critic. Go see David In Shadow and Light.

Passing Marks–Getting Beyond Critics in a One-Daily Town

Part of the deal of presenting arts in a city with only one widely-read daily newspaper is that your fortunes become inextricably tied to your coverage in that paper. This cuts both ways. When the coverage is good we prosper, praise the generous and wise coverage bestowed upon us and send links to the positive press in mass emails. When the coverage is not so good, which is to say either critically negative or non-existent, we suffer. We curse the folly of investing so much authority in one publication. We snidely remind ourselves that newspapers are a dying medium anyway with steeply declining circulations, ad revenues and prospects. But we don’t argue the call. Not publicly anyway. To do so is an implicit violation of the deal. Peeing in the well from which you’ll eventually need a drink.

The situation meets its absurd (il)logical end in the theater, where the voice of one critic in particular, hugely impacts the success of a show. Following the jubilation of the great feature article on Sunday, came today’s harsh reality and a heavily negative review from Peter Marks for David in Shadow and Light. He calls it “a ponderous mishmash.” He derides the music as “meandering” and “atonal,” the lyrics as “doggerel” and the production in general as “turgid.” It was a pretty harsh review, as these things go–especially harsh when you consider this was a new work with (I think) a lot of merit. And so, with all due respect to Mr. Marks, we disagree.

The music Marks found meandering and atonal, I actually find quite melodic and complex. Daniel Hoffman’s music draws on middle eastern rhythms that are built differently than the chord, chorus and tonal structure of your average, western musical. To call it “atonal” brings to mind Schoenberg’s critique of the term that, “it is on a par with calling flying ‘the art of not falling,’ or swimming ‘the art of not drowning.'” Which is to say that the review judges the music for what it is not without ever investing a serious consideration of what it is. The critic has every right to consider and reject, but where was the consideration? Continue reading

Waiting on David…

While we’re all on tenterhooks waiting for the Washington Post review of David In Shadow and Light we can enjoy this feature piece from yesterday’s Post.

As this might suggest, the narrative approach is epic — scratch that, cosmic — in scope. Hyman and Hoffman think only a wide canvas can capture what is most intriguing about David, namely his inconsistencies: the machismo and the artistry (David played the harp); the piety and the sin (after seducing Bathsheba, he engineered her husband’s death); the power and the vulnerability; the shadow and light.

“Essentially he’s a murderer, and yet he’s our great hero,” Hyman concurs.

“He embodies the best and worst of humanity,” says the Tel Aviv-based Hoffman, who performed in Theater J’s “God’s Donkey” and “Shlemiel the First.”

Read the full article here

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