When cultural organizations interact, they enrich the community.
AFI Silver Theatre, AMP Powered by Strathmore, the Music Center at Strathmore, and Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center – all Montgomery County arts groups – are serving as sites for the 11-day-long Washington Jewish Music Festival.
The Festival, the flagship of the Edlavitch Jewish Community Center of Washington D.C.’s year-round music program, starts formally on Nov. 2 with a group called Taharam, considered “Israel’s Stomp.” It continues through Nov. 12 with the silent film version of “Humoresque” and a performance by Nomadica, which performs music of Arabs, Roma, and Jews.
“The 19th Washington Jewish Music Festival’s lineup is a very exciting alchemy – it brings together some of the most prestigious, original and boundary-pushing artists from around the world working in the Jewish space, and encourages them to experiment in the nation’s capital,” said Festival Director Ilya Tovbis. “Additionally, we’re doubling down on highlighting and elevating the work and artistry of local D.C. musicians whose output spans hip-hop, klezmer, bossa nova, and cantorial repertoires.”
The Jewish sound being celebrated during this year’s festival, added Tovbis, is “as eclectic, multicultural and global as the Jewish diaspora itself.”
The mood of the festival is both somber and joyous.
On Nov. 4 at 8 p.m., Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center will host “Hours of Freedom: The Story of the Terezin,” showcasing music by 15 composers imprisoned in the Theresienstadt concentration camp during World War II. On Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m., the Andy Statman Trio and Andy’s Ramble Bluegrass Quartet will play in a two-set show at AMP Powered by Strathmore. On Nov. 11 at 7 p.m., in partnership with Levine Music, the Music Center at Strathmore will present “Taking Leonard Downtown: Getting Funky with the Maestro,” a tribute to the music of Leonard Bernstein by a traditional jazz organ combo.
The screening of “Humoresque” will take place at AFI Silver Theatre at 4 p.m. on Nov. 12.
There’s cross-fertilization in another way: along with the DCJCC, the Music Center at Strathmore is co-presenting the Nov. 7 concert of Yasmin Levy and the Klezmatics, part of the Washington Jewish Music Festival as well as of the Strathmore 2017-2018 season, which emphasizes global music.
“The thematic thread through Strathmore’s 2017-2018 season is ‘Windows,’ a series of concerts in which international artists share the sonic riches of their heritage and homeland,” said Joi Brown, vice president of programming. “This is our effort to showcase music that reflects different perspectives, places, cultures, and eras.”
The Music Center at Strathmore has “always embraced” international programming and different voices, continued Brown. “This is more like a step up, rather than new territory. The concept of ‘Windows’ is like embracing symbols and ideas of looking at the other side of the window in music – an opportunity to hear and understand other perspectives. We all have differences but also similar dreams, families.”
The “Windows” programming begins with performances by Brazilian musician Sérgio Mendes, who combines bossa nova, samba, and pop; and Mexican-American singer-songwriter Lila Downs, who fuses pop, indigenous and Mexican sounds Oct. 19 and 20.
As part of an ongoing commitment to make the arts accessible to all, Strathmore is expanding its open-captioning offerings for Music Center performances beginning this season.
Open captioning is a text display of words and sounds heard in a production – similar to closed captioning on a TV screen.
Strathmore has historically offered this service when requested by patrons, but has now proactively selected five main presentations for pre-planned open captioning – an initative it plans to continue in the future.