Keeping It In The Family
Michael Alexander Willens presents his
grandfathers' musical legacy:
"Treasures of the Yiddish Theater"
Imagine having two grandfathers who were songwriters and were as successful in their day as Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stephen Sondheim are today!
Michael Alexander Willens is the grandson of both Alexander Olshanetsky and Herman Yablokoff, two of the most successful songwriters who wrote the music for many Yiddish theater musicals that flourished in New York in the first half of the 20th century.
Two of their most famous songs, Papirossen and Mein Shtetele Belz, have been translated into 26 languages and are still performed around the world. Songs like Hopkele, Shvayg mayn Harz, Hosti Gisit Bisti and Ikh hob dich zuviel Lib as well many others are considered classics in the yiddish songbook repertoire and are regularly performed internationally by singers and klezmer bands. They have also been used in many films and television programs.
However, they are rarely performed in the version for which they were conceived, namely with a Broadway-style show band, which Alexander Olshanetsky directed at the Concord Hotel in the Catskills for several summers.
"Keeping it in the Family" features all of the songs listed above as well as many others that are familiar. This program is an evening down memory lane featuring musical treasures written by Michael Alexander Willens' grandfathers for the yiddish theater!
Alexander Olshanetsky (Grandfather of Michael Alexander Willens) and his band.
"Keeping it in the family:
Songs my grandfathers wrote”
Alexander Olshanetsky Hopkele
Herman Yablokoff Rebe Elimelech
Alexander Olshanetsky Oy, I Like She
Alexander Olshanetsky A Gite Heim
Alexander Olshanetsky Lomir Zikh Tsekushn
Alexander Olshanetsky Ikh hob dikh tsufil
Alexander Olshanetsky Eyn Kik Oyf Dir
Herman Yablokoff Shvayg Mayn Harts
Alexander Olshanetsky Mein Shtetele Belz
Herman Yablokoff Papirosn
Alexander Olshanetsky Glik
Alexander Olshanetsky Unter Beymer
Alexander Olshanetsky Bist mein Kroin
Alexander Olshanetsky Hosti, Gisti, Bisti
Michael Alexander Willens
Michael Alexander Willens is the music director of the Kölner Akademie, a period instrument chamber orchestra and choir based in Cologne, Germany.
He studied conducting with John Nelson at the Juilliard School, with Leonard Bernstein at Tanglewood, with Ira Levin in Düsseldorf and choral conducting with Paul Vorwerk in California.
Willens "broad experience has given him an unusual depth of background and familiarity with performance practice styles ranging from baroque, classical and romantic through to contemporary as well as jazz and pop music.
He has conducted at major concert halls and festivals in Europe, Asia, North and South America, Scandinavia, Russia, Iceland, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Israel, receiving the highest critical praise.
Aside from Die Kölner Akademie, he has guest conducted orchestras in Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, Brazil, Canada, Israel and France.
In addition to the standard repertoire, he is also keenly interested in rediscovering music from the past and has released over 60 world premiere recordings featuring lesser-known composers from the baroque, classical and romantic periods for CPO, ARS Produktion, Capriccio and Hänssler Classic.
He has also recorded full cycles of Mozart, Beethoven, Wilms and Weber piano concertos as well the complete works for solo piano and orchestra by Felix Mendelssohn- Bartholdy with Ronald Brautigam for BIS. For the Deutsche Grammophon label he recorded a set of Bach chorales for their Bach 333 box set.
Several of these recordings have been nominated and received awards. They have all received outstanding international reviews. Performing the music of his grandfathers had been a dream of his for several years which has finally come to fruition.
Roman Grinberg was born in Beltz, Moldova and studied music in Vienna. He is considered one of the most versatile Yiddish performing artists of our time. Roman works internationally as a composer, arranger, pianist, singer, songwriter, actor and vocal coach.
He is artistic director of the Vienna Jewish Choir and the Vienna Klezmer Orchestra, Vice President of the European Association of Jewish Choirs and director of the Yiddish Culture Festival Vienna. Awarded over 20 prizes, Roman has given concerts and taught in 48 countries around the world, released 18 albums and written over 120 music works, including Yiddish songs, Klezmer tunes, jazz, pop/rock, Viennese waltzes, choral and orchestral works.
Shura Lipovsky is one of todays most respected singers and ambassadors for Yiddish culture on the international stage.
She studied singing at the Rotterdam conservatory with Margreet Honig, the Yiddish language with Mira Rafalowicz in Amsterdam, at the Oxford Summer University and in Paris at the Maison de la Culture Yiddish and l"cole Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq.
Dedicated to show the diversity of Judaism in art, culture and spirituality, Lipovsky has performed with outstanding musicians from Europe and the United States in concerts featuring traditional Yiddish songs, Sephardic and Hebrew repertoire in classical concert halls and festivals in Europe, the United States, Canada and Russia. She sang for the official Memorial Concert of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in the Warsaw Philharmonie in 1993. This concert was broadcast live on Polish radio and became the CD #Heroes and Poets!. She also took part in "The Klezmer Extravaganza" with Yitzhak Perlman and has performed with Theodore Bikel. In addition, she produced and performed a concert with Mostar Sinfonietta (Bosnia-Herzegovina) and sang original Bosnian, Yiddish and Sephardic repertoire which toured through Poland under the name: 'Bridge to Peace'.
As well as performing traditional Yiddish song repertoire, Shura Lipovsky has written text and music of nearly 30 original new Yiddish songs. She has received several awards including the ACDiY Award in New York, as a first European performer for her oeuvre of new Yiddish songs and was a prize-winner in Sao Paolo, Brasil, for her most recent new Yiddish song 'Di levone!. As a Pedagogue, Shura Lipovsky is the director of the Summer Song School #Golden Peacock !for JMI in London where she gives Masterclasses for Yiddish song interpretation and leads a monthly choir in MCY in Paris and a women's choir in Amsterdam. Lipovsky is also a peace worker and active in inter-religious dialogue.
She is Ambassador for Musicians without Borders (MwB), located in the Netherlands. (MwB does peacework through music and dance in countries experiencing ethnic conflicts and war.) She has also produced 5 CD!s, of which her recording with Novaya Shira, Vaytinke' (2013) and 'Malakh' (2020) are played on a regular basis on the Dutch Classical Radio 4. She was also featured in Dutch, Belgian, American and Canadian documentaries (#Jiddisj is mijn instrument!, #Terpe Kind Mains, Terpe!, #Yiddish Soul!, #Wandering Muse!)