Written by Michael Goldstein for THE ARTISTS FORUM MAGAZINE
Edited by Amos White V for THE ARTISTS FORUM, INC
Photo: Michael Goldstein
3.5 out of 5 stars
YIDDISH SOUL AT SUMMERSTAGE 2015
NEW YORK, NY (June 17, 2015) Last night, as part of SummerStage and KulturfestNYC, the Chasidic music scene assembled some of its finest cantors for three hours of what can only be described as a Bar Mitzvah with Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra.
Opening the event’s long showcase of contemporary music was Lipa Schmeltzer, who started us off on one heck of a chair dance with music and lyrics reminiscent to the rhythm of The Lion Sleeps Tonight. To call the music energetic is an understatement. Listen to any snippet of the night and you’d swear you suddenly showed up in the middle of a bar mitzvah when you were just looking for a restaurant.
In other words, you could tell the musicians were having the time of their lives and that there was a bond shared between the singers and their audience, a feeling best encapsulated when Schmeltzer brought out his six-year-old son who was just doing his best to keep up with the energy generated by the band.
However, it was clear this night wasn’t going to be for everyone: all of the lyrics where in Yiddish. There was no translation, no captions, not even a hint of what they were singing unless you understand Yiddish, and I don’t.
The best part of the night had to be the inclusion of the prayer Oseh Shalom – full of passion and arranged in a way that made it sound like it would fit perfectly in a Broadway musical.
At the end of the day, the concert proved to make the night an interesting one. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, or in this case, everyone’s bowl of chicken soup, but anyone looking to take a walk on the Yiddish side must be sure to follow any of the folks on stage. I’m sure any of them will give you a big shalom if you ask.
For more information about KulturfestNYC, visit: kulturfestnyc.org.