LSM Newswire

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Toronto Jewish Folk Choir Spring Concert June 3


Honoring the Memory of Ben Shek, Milton Barnes, Myrna Levine,
Mordechai Gebirtig and Adrienne Cooper

Lively and evocative music for choir and klezmer musicians celebrates the memory of three individuals who did much for the Toronto Jewish Folk Choir, when the choir gives its 86thannual spring concert, Sunday, June 3, at 3 p.m. at Temple Sinai, 210 Wilson Avenue, Toronto.

Alexander Veprinsky conducts the Choir, in his ninth season, with pianist Lina Zemelman in her 36th season as accompanist.

Titled Saluting Ben Shek, the entire afternoon will celebrate the memory of the choir’s longtime leader and generous donor Ben Shek, who died in June 2011.  Shek, his parents and wife Jean had been among the small group to keep the choir going after the death of conductor Emil Gartner in 1960.  Ben and Jean had remained pillars of the Choir for decades.

Tickets for the performance are $25; seniors and students, $20; children 12 and under free.  Information and ticket reservations may be obtained by calling (905) 669-5906 or   More information on the choir is at

The central work June 3 is Dos Naye Lid (The New Song) a six-part Yiddish suite for choir and klezmer band by Canadian composer Milton Barnes (1931-2001).  Barnes would have been 80 in December 2011.  Drummer Daniel Barnes, one of the composer’s three sons, joins Shtetl Shpil members Isabella Fedorovsky, violin; Janusz Borowiec, cello; Sasha Fedorovsky, clarinet and Slava Chakhnevitch, trumpet. 

The performance also honors the memory of choir member Myrna Levine, who commissioned the suite about 12 years ago.  Another generous donor, she passed away in July 2011 after a short illness. 

The program includes music by Mordechai Gebirtig (1877-1942), composer of countless beloved Yiddish songs, in commemoration of the 135th anniversary of his birth and 70th anniversary of his death in the Holocaust.  The Ballad of the Triangle Fire, describing the tragic death of 146 young girls in the infamous 1911 sweatshop fire, will be sung in memory of the great Yiddish singer Adrienne Cooper, who died earlier this year.

Also on the program will be songs in Hebrew, Judeo-Spanish (Ladino) and Russian.  Among the soloists are tenors Nick Gough, Martin Houtman and bass Herman Rombouts.  

The June 3 concert is presented with the assistance of the Toronto Arts Council, and Choir members and friends.

Founded in 1925 primarily by immigrant garment workers, the Toronto Jewish Folk Choir is Canada’s longest continuing Jewish performance group, with an illustrious history.  While singing in many languages, the Choir prides itself on helping to keep the Yiddish language alive through its repertoire.  More information on the Choir is at


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