YIDSTOCK: The Festival of New Yiddish Music Returns in July to Amherst

Performances by The Klezmatics, David Krakauer’s Mazel Tov Cocktail Party, and Frank London and the Yidstock All-Stars 

(AMHERST, Mass.) – The Yiddish Book Center is excited to announce the return of the annual YIDSTOCK: The Festival of New Yiddish Music from Thursday, July 13, to Sunday, July 16, 2023. The four-day festival features a diverse lineup of new performers and audience favorites and promises to be an unforgettable event for fans of Yiddish music and culture. Tickets for YIDSTOCK: The Festival of New Yiddish Music are now available at the Yiddish Book Center website, www.yiddishbookcenter.org

YIDSTOCK Artistic Director Seth Rogovoy curated this year’s lineup, which includes favorites like Merlin Shepherd, Nigunim Trio, and Lorin Sklamberg alongside new performers, including Forshpil, Midwood, and Sam Sadigursky. In addition to the music performances, the festival includes workshops, talks, films, and conversations with the artists. 

The 11th annual YIDSTOCK festival also introduces a new program called “Festival Artists-in-Residence.” This inaugural year features Eleanor Reissa and Socalled, who will make surprise appearances with other performers and lead short, casual sessions exploring their creative process. 

“Last year we were able to regain our footing with a live festival after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rogovoy. “This year, we are thrilled to be able to present three artists and groups making their YIDSTOCK debuts, as well as several international artists. We look forward to the magic and surprises that can only happen at a live event, which often provides a platform for spontaneous cross-pollination and jamming between performers.” 

“Yidstock is always a highlight of the year at the Yiddish Book Center,” said Susan Bronson, executive director of the Yiddish Book Center. “Once again we are thrilled to bring together a remarkable group of musicians for a jam-packed program of concerts, talks and workshops and welcoming audiences from near and far.” 

Concert Details:  

The Klezmatics, the Grammy Award-winning modern klezmer band, will kick off the festival on Thursday, July 13, at 8 p.m.  

On Friday, July 14, at 2 p.m., Yidstock newcomer Sam Sadigursky will perform excerpts from The Solomon Diaries, his suite for duo, accompanied by accordionist/multi-instrumentalist Nathan Koci. Sam’s musical composition is inspired by photographer Marisa Scheinfeld’s visionary project, The Borscht Belt: Revisiting the Remains of America’s Jewish Vacationland.

The Nigunim Trio, featuring vocalist/accordionist Lorin Sklamberg and trumpeter Frank London, will bring their unique blend of nigunim and zmiros on Friday, July 14, at 5 p.m. They will be joined by special guest Merlin Shepherd, the world-renowned klezmer clarinetist, from Brighton, England.

YIDSTOCK favorite David Krakauer will return on Saturday, July 15, at 8 p.m., with his latest project, David Krakauer’s Mazel Tov Cocktail Party, which showcases an international crew of performers including Iranian percussionist Martin Shamoonpour, jazz bassist Jerome Harris, Montreal rapper Sarah MK, and electric guitarist Yoshie Fruchter.  

Sunday’s lineup includes Midwood, a Brooklyn-based outfit led by violinist Jake Shulman-Ment and Forshpil, an international group founded in 2003 in Riga, Latvia, and led by vocalist Sasha Lurje and keyboardist/arranger Ilya Shneyveys

The festival will culminate with the YIDSTOCK All-Stars, led by Frank London, on Sunday, July 16, at 7 p.m. This once-in-a-lifetime grouping will perform a globally oriented program called “YIDSTOCK All-Stars: The Finale” that features klezmer and Yiddish talent including vocalist Eleanor Reissa, Montreal-based Josh Dolgin, aka Socalled, the de facto godfather of “klezmer hip hop,” clarinetist Merlin Shepherd, vocalists Sasha Lurje, Lorin Sklamberg, Eleonore Weill, and Lauren Brody, plus many others. 

Full YIDSTOCK Schedule: 

Thursday, July 13 

1:00–1:45 p.m. What’s the Matter with the Klezmer? Perspectives from the Center’s Wexler Oral History Project, with Christa Whitney | Film 
2:00–3:00 p.m. The Essential Klezmer, with Seth Rogovoy | Talk 
4:00–5:00 p.m. Itzhak Perlman’s Jewish Violin, with Hankus Netsky | Talk 
8:00–9:30 p.m. The Klezmatics | Concert 

Friday, July 14 

10:00–10:45 a.m. Bronia, Leon, Sid, Pete, Ruth, Chane, and Theo, with Hankus Netsky | Talk 
10:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Go Figure, with Steve Weintraub and Lauren Brody | Workshop 
1:00–1:45 p.m. A Conversation with Socalled | Talk 
2:00–3:00 p.m. Sam Sadigursky Duo | Concert 
3:30–4:15 p.m. A Conversation with Sam Sadigursky | Talk 
5:00–6:00 p.m. Nigunim Trio, with special guest Merlin Shepherd | Concert 
Saturday, July 15 

10:30–11:30 a.m. Yiddish: A Global Culture, with David Mazower |Talk
10:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m. And Around We Go, with Steve Weintraub and Lauren Brody | Workshop 
1:00–1:45 p.m. A Conversation with Lorin Sklamberg | Talk 
1:00–3:00 p.m. Instrumental Klezmer, with Brian Bender | Workshop 
2:00–3:00 p.m. A Conversation with Aaron Lansky and Susan Bronson | Talk 
3:30–4:15 p.m. A Conversation with Merlin Shepherd | Talk 
8:00–9:30 p.m. David Krakauer’s Mazel Tov Cocktail Party | Concert 

Sunday, July 16 

10:30–11:15 a.m. Eleanor Reissa in Conversation with Lisa Newman, host of The Shmooze | Talk 
10:30–11:30 a.m. Lomir Zingen! Yiddish Song Workshop, with Asya Vaisman Schulman | Workshop 
12:00–1:00 p.m. Midwood | Concert 
1:30–2:15 p.m. Connecting Klezmer to the Jewish Wedding and Dancing, with Steve Weintraub | Talk 
3:00–4:00 p.m. Forshpil | Concert 
7:00–8:30 p.m. Yidstock All-Stars: Yiddish Around the World | Concert 

YIDSTOCK 2023 is co-sponsored by WAMC Northeast Public Radio and is made possible in part by the following endowed funds at the Yiddish Book Center: 

  • Joan A. Backman Memorial Concert Fund, established in memory of their daughter by Irving and Charlotte Backman
  • Bernard and Reva Broder Memorial Fund for Yiddish Music Projects and Programs 
  • Lorraine “Libby” Buch Memorial Fund for Yiddish Music Projects and Programs 
  • Helen and Irving Sunshine Memorial Fund for Programs 
  • Stanley R. Epstein Fund at the Yiddish Book Center 

For more information and images, please contact Rebecka McDougall, director of communications & marketing, at rmcdougall@yiddishbookcenter.org or 413-409-5118.

About the Yiddish Book Center

The Yiddish Book Center is a nonprofit organization working to recover, celebrate, and regenerate Yiddish and modern Jewish literature and culture.

The million Yiddish books recovered by the Yiddish Book Center represent Jews’ first sustained literary and cultural encounter with the modern world. They are a window onto the past thousand years of Jewish history, a precursor of modern Jewish writing in English, Hebrew, and other languages, and a springboard for new creativity. Since its founding in 1980, the Center has launched a wide range of bibliographic, educational, and cultural programs to share these treasures with the wider world. Visit yiddishbookcenter.org to learn more. 

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