KlezKanada: A Marriage of Music, Culture and Friendship for Talented Individuals or Simply Serious Aficionados

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Quebec's world class Klezmer music festival, entering its ninth summer, is the perfect marriage of music and culture, set against the backdrop of the beautiful Laurentian mountains.

For nine years, Quebec’s Laurentian mountains have been the site of a celebration of music, Jewish culture and friendship; the ultimate Klezmer festival. KlezKanada, which showcases some of the finest Klezmer musicians from around the world, takes place every August in the beautiful country retreat of Camp B’Nai Brith.

This year, however, the blessed union has taken on a new dimension, certainly one of life imitating art. Montreal’s Jason Rosenblatt, hailing from a family of musicians, and Philadelphia trombonist Rachel Lemisch, who became acquainted as “scholarship kids” at the 1999 KlezKanada, will be married in Montreal Sunday, August 22, the day before KlezKanada’s ninth incarnation officially kicks off. The couple will be honeymooning at the festival, where both are on this year’s faculty.

“I’m very proud that KlezKanada was the defacto matchmaker for Jason and Rachel,” said Dr. Hy Goldman, the festival’s founder and chairman. “They are both terrific young people and they epitomize the kind of bright, talented, culturally interested participants whom we encourage and support. They are exactly what we look for when we choose our scholarship kids.”

The scholarship program unites teens and young adults for six days of musical education and celebration. Anyone can be a part of KlezKanada, either as hands-on musicians, or merely as aficionados of the musical genre of Klezmer, and the Jewish cultural experience.

“The festival is designed for those who wish to perfect their art and meet with others who share their passion – often resulting in lasting friendships – and to develop a greater interest in Jewish culture,” said Dr. Goldman. “I can say quite confidently that we offer an experience unmatched anywhere in the world.”

This summer, 81 scholarships have been bestowed upon young people from Canada, the U.S., Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, Moldova and the UK. One student from New Zealand chose to pay both his own way and full festival fees to attend KlezKanada. The venue, Camp B’Nai Brith, is located 45-minutes (60 miles) north of Montreal.

Participation is not limited to Jews. In fact, Klezmer is wildly popular in the primarily French-speaking province of Quebec whenever it is performed at nightclubs and the city’s internationally renowned Montreal Jazz Festival. A few participants are from Quebec and 2004 includes French-Quebecers, siblings Veronique Leduc, 21,and Philippe Leduc, 20.

The program directors of KlezKanada are Michael Alpert, a pioneering figure in the Klezmer music renaissance, Jeff Warschauer, one of the foremost exponents of Klezmer mandolin, and Dr. Hy Goldman, an organizer of musical events since his university days.

An impressive array of 47 faculty members include (to name just a few): Hankus Netsky, founder of Boston’s famed Klezmer Conservatory Band; Zalman Mlotek, one of the foremost authorities on Yiddish folk and theatrical music; leading innovator Alan Bern, musical director of legendary Klezmer band Brave Old World, Frank Landon of the Klezmatics, and Joanne Borts, who has appeared in American and Yiddish musicals on Broadway. Montrealers Josh Dolgin, a uniquely talented accordionist, and Yaela Hertz, concertmaster emerita of the McGill Chamber Orchestra, are also faculty members.

KlezKanada takes place from Wednesday August 25 – Sunday August 29, although musical workshops begin August 23. Information can be obtained by calling 514-489-9014, faxing 514-489-0260, or e-mailing shgoldman@sympatico.ca The website is located at http://www.klezkanada.com

KlezKanada has as its primary commitment and activity the introduction and perpetuation of a 1000-year old Yiddish/Jewish culture to people of all ages. Out of the ashes of the Holocaust, KlezKanada has harnessed the accumulated wisdom of the past, coupling it with the dynamic creativity of today and presenting a living Jewish cultural happening. Through a carefully devised program of music, dance, language, literature and history, this festival provides an opportunity not only to learn, but also to experience the ties that bind the past with its contemporary creativity and an innovative cultural renaissance. This assures the promise of a future.


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Bram Eisenthal
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