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For information and/or tickets, the public can call the Harbourfront Centre Information Line: 416-973-3000, or
Box Office: 416-973-4000

Media only:

Dianne Weinrib or
Shira Gilbert

Phone: 416-703-5479
Fax: 416-703-5489
642 King St. W. Ste. 202, Toronto, M5V 1M7

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Ashkenaz '97 Artists Announced

Toronto, May 12, 1997... Ashkenaz: A Festival of New Yiddish Culture takes place for the second time at Toronto's internationally-acclaimed lakeside performance space and cultural park, Harbourfront Centre, from August 25th, 1997 through to Labour Day, September 1st. The Ashkenaz Festival is an exhilarating multi-disciplinary celebration of Eastern European Yiddish roots--a showcase for the vibrant new contemporary expressions in music, dance, theatre, film, visual arts and the spoken and written word of this deeply-rooted culture that continues to grow. For up-to-date info, call Harbourfront Centre at 416-973-3000.

The world's largest and most unique festival of its kind, Ashkenaz '97 will see an unprecedented gathering of artists from all over North America and Europe ranging from the traditional to the unpredictable and experimental. Most events are free of charge, but there are some not to be missed ticketed performances as well, available by calling the box office at 416-973-4000 (*denotes ticketed event).

Artistic Director David Buchbinder, in announcing the lineup remarked, "This Festival is going to jump up, grab you by the hand and take you on a ride you won't soon forget. From the opening notes of John Zorn's supercharged Masada and the curtain rising on the set of a very contemporary production of The Dybbuk by the avant-garde Polish Teatr Wierszalin, to the last notes of the multi-group Finale filling the Molson Place stage, Ashkenaz will be an event of energy and celebration." The extensive lineup includes:


Ashkenaz Orchestra Project* (AOP) An unprecedented New Yiddish supergroup featuring 20 international artists coming together from some of the hottest bands around the downtown New York scene and the world who will create exciting new compositions rooted in the Yiddish sound. Drawing on numerous musical streams -- Eastern European, Afro-Cuban, and more -- the AOP will be the musical centrepiece of the Festival!

Andy Statman Quartet (New York City) Deeply spiritual, Statman combines the haunting beauty and depth of the traditional Yiddish style with the freewheeling sensibility of the most searching jazz. Also featuring powerhouses Kenny Werner, Harvie Swartz and Bob Weiner.

John Zorn's Bar Kochba* (New York City) Phenomenal jazzman John Zorn leads his show-stopping octet through the Masada cycle of compositions. With some of New York's hottest musicians: Joey Baron, drums; Cyra Battista, percussion; Greg Cohen, bass; Anthony Coleman, keyboards; Mark Feldman, violin; Erik Friedlander, cellist; and Mark Ribot, guitar.

Kapelye (New York City) One of the oldest Klezmer revival bands in North America brings its hit 'radio show' CD On the Air to life, celebrating a nearly-forgotten chapter of American-Jewish history.

The Klezmatics (New York City) Klezmer gets a manic makeover with this renowned "radical Jewish roots" band whose brilliant musicianship and recordings have won them world-wide acclaim.

Epstein Brothers Orchestra* (Florida) Indisputably the zaydes (granddaddys) of klezmer, the Epsteins (now in their 80's), were the "kings of klezmer" in Brooklyn in the 50s and 60s. The subject of the film A Tickle in the Heart, these treasured old-school musicians are in demand more than ever!

and Toronto's high-spirited Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band; Israel's electrifying power quartet Esta; New Jewish Art Music from San Francisco's Davka; Boston's mesmerizing Naftule's Dream; Dutch klezmer from Salomon Klezmorim; the elegant Chicago Klezmer Ensemble; New York's rhythmically-charged Paradox Trio; the all-Canadian Koulack, Lerner & Boychuk; Toronto's torchy diva Theresa Tova and more!


*From Bialystok, Poland comes Teatr Wierszalin (Theatre Workshop) in its North American premiere appearance with its own gripping new adaptation of S. Ansky's masterpiece The Dybbuk. This archetypal spectacle brings to life the ghosts of a Jewish Poland now lost. Imbued with haunting, powerful imagery and music, The Dybbuk transcends cultural and linguistic barriers. Performed in English.

*New York's Great Small Works brings the world premiere of The Memoirs Of Glückel Of Hameln by Jenny Romaine, Adrienne Cooper and Frank London. Ancient fairground techniques go electric to explore faith, finance and utopian desires in the life of this strong and independent woman.

*San Francisco's A Traveling Jewish Theatre brings its acclaimed The Last Yiddish Poet for its Canadian premiere. A transcendental journey through the past.

*Toronto's Theatre Asylum's celebrated black comedy My Mother's Courage by Hungary's award-winning George Tabori tells the tale of Tabori's mother's near-fatal encounter with the Nazis.


*Sweden's Norrdans performs Zummel choreographed by Toronto's Alan Kaeja, inspired by stories told to him by his father, a Holocaust survivor. North American Premiere.

*Discipledom choreographed by New York City's Amy Sue Rosen and Derek Bernstein. Ten black-clad 'rabbis' and a five-piece klezmer band search for the Divine. Canadian Premiere.

*Bella by Toronto's dynamite Danny Grossman Dance Company. This Chagall-inspired piece continues to move audiences to both laughter and tears.


*Benya Krik, a recently rediscovered 1926 silent film about Jewish gangsters in Odessa--with live musical accompaniment by the Paradox Trio and Pete Sokolow. Canadian Premiere.

Many other films tba.

Visual Arts

Dancing With The Leviathan: Featuring the work of 40 established and emerging visual artists. Pieces range from a reworking of biblical texts, shtetl and immigrant imagery to personal statements on the Holocaust and contemporary Jewish Life. The largest exhibition of its kind to be held in Toronto.

Eat Your Heart Out: A light-hearted look at food and humour.

Special Events

Ashkenaz Parade, Late Night Cabaret of Dreams, Music at the Edge, Children's Events, AshkenARTZ! Jewish Craft Tent, Workshops & Forums, Fresser's Paradise and more!

For information and/or tickets, the public can call the
Harbourfront Centre Information Line: 416-973-3000, or
Box Office: 416-973-4000

Ashkenaz is produced in association with the Bloor JCC and Harbourfront Centre with the support of the UJA Federation; the Department of Canadian Heritage; The Canada Council; Ontario Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation; Ontario Arts Council; Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto; Toronto Arts Council; The Laidlaw Foundation and the Four Seasons Hotel.


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