University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire


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UW-Eau Claire to Host Celebration
Of Jewish Music and Culture

 MAILED:  Nov. 3, 2003

EAU CLAIRE —“Celebrating Jewish Music and Culture,” an afternoon of music, dancing and cultural celebration, will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov.16, in the Council Fire Room of Davies Center at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

The highlight of this celebration, sponsored by the University Activities Commission, the Jewish Student Association and Temple Sholom Synagogue, will be a concert of Jewish klezmer music. Admission is free.

Klezmer music, performed in Eastern Europe at Jewish weddings and festivals, was influenced by Eastern European, Greek, Turkish and Gypsy musical styles. After Jewish musicians immigrated to the United States, jazz also was incorporated.

According to Dr. Helaine Minkus, president of Temple Sholom and associate professor of geography and anthropology at UW-Eau Claire, klezmer music was in decline until the late 1970s, when musician-scholars prompted a revival by learning from older klezmer musicians and then taking the old forms in new, more American directions. Incorporating jazz, bluegrass, rock and roll and even hip hop elements, klezmer has since become broadly popular within the United States and Europe and is performed by non-Jewish as well as Jewish musicians, said Minkus, noting that klezmer is joyous and spontaneous and invites its listeners to dance.

Three Twin Cities musicians with international experience, will present the klezmer concert. Mark Stillman, a widely known and popular accordion player, performs at weddings and private parties, as well as at public concerts. He is best known as a klezmer musician but also performs a broad range of other musical styles from traditional Celtic to Cajun to Macedonian. Sima Shumilovsky was a professional singer in Odessa and toured the Soviet Union performing Russian and international music. Fluent in Yiddish, Russian and Ukrainian, she performs a wide repertoire of traditional Jewish music. She has appeared on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” several times and sings at night clubs, weddings and bar mitzvahs. Jim Price plays violin and mandolin and has expertise in many types of music including classical, jazz, ethnic and folk. He was a regular on “A Prairie Home Companion” and has toured with and done arrangements for well-known musicians such as Prince and Henry Mancini.

From 1 to1:30 pm, just before the concert, Dr. Paul Wagner, a faculty member in UW-Eau Claire’s department of computer science and a member of the Eau Claire International Folk Dancers, will teach dance steps that can be done to klezmer music. The concert will follow from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Earlier in the week, from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11, in the Tamarack Room of Davies Center, Dr. Wagner will provide another opportunity for anyone interested to learn klezmer steps and folk dances from Israel and the Balkans.

The afternoon celebration also will feature a bake sale, a silent auction and the sale of various items from Brochin’s Jewish Book and Gift Store in Minneapolis, including Jewish music CDs; books on Judaism, Jewish history, Jewish humor and Hebrew; Hanukkah items such as dreidls, menorahs, cards and gift wrap; shofars, the traditional ceremonial instruments of Judaism; beauty products from Israel; jewelry; and more.

The silent auction will run from 1 to 3 p.m. and will offer a broad range of items donated by Eau Claire area businesses, including business and restaurant gift certificates, a hypnotherapy session, a mini-drum set, concert tickets and a car made available by Ken Vance Motors.

The bake sale will feature traditional Jewish items, including the braided bread known as challah; cheesecake; baklava; and ginetti, an Italian cookie made on the holiday of Sukkot, sometimes called The Feast of Tabernacles. More familiar treats like chocolate chip cookies also will be available.

As part of the celebration, those attending can have their names written phonetically in Hebrew by members of the local Jewish community.

For more information, contact Minkus at 832-5391.


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Updated: November 3, 2003