When Yefim Bronfman performs Brahms' Second Piano Concerto with conductor Lionel Bringuier and the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl on July 31, he will be tackling what is known as a real "finger buster," a term used for a work that is awkwardly conceived for a pianist's hands or physically demanding. The Brahms concerto is both.
Dear Matisyahu, Tonight you performed at the Windstar World Casino in Oklahoma, seventy miles from my Dallas home. The distance may seem far, but in Texas proportion it is right around the corner.
While taking violin lessons at The Juilliard School, Wise became interested in musical theater. He has since followed two paths in that field -- as a creative producer, responsible for some projects from conception to staging, and as an international presenter of successful Broadway shows.
When it comes to Bob Dylan, I think it's fair to say that I'm a fan of long standing -- my wife still teases me about the time, shortly after we'd moved to Los Angeles, when in her car, radio on, she was surprised to hear me as a call-in contestant to KSCA's "Lyrically Speaking" correctly identify the author of the verse in question as, "My man, Bob Dylan."
So you might think that I would be excited to see "Bob Dylan's American Journey, 1956-66," opening at the Skirball on Feb. 8. But I was somewhat skeptical.
The self-taught artist, Alula Johannes Tzadik, who was totally unaware of his Jewish heritage while growing up, has become a renowned musician in Jewish circles. Inspired musically by Miles Davis and lyrically by Bob Marley, he adds his own flavor of soul to spiritual jams -- melodies that help him connect with the L.A. Jewish community.
Producer, songwriter and musician Larry Klein is having a good year. In a way, one could say his current success is the culmination of a process of recontextualizing his background, his experience, his talents and his interests.
"I have the great good fortune to have an ear to the ground and a great many wonderful colleagues," Kahane said of his network of music-world sources, mostly fellow musicians with whom the conductor has formed strong bonds.
When Shlomo Bar started making music professionally in the mid-1970s, there was no such thing as "world music." So he helped create it.
There was a time when Jews dominated the ranks of American orchestras, and superstars like Leonard Bernstein and Isaac Stern were musical ambassadors to the world. The fact that today's master Jewish musicians tend to have proteges with names like Yo Yo Ma, Kyung-Wha Chung and Lang Lang is one hint that for many Jews, classical music is no longer a top priority.
When Steve Berlin gained early admission to a university premed program as an 11th-grader, his mother and father had visions of their little boy becoming a physician. Much to their chagrin, the young Berlin had other ideas. He told them he dreamed of becoming a rocker -- not a doctor. They worried about his future.
Now, on her latest album "Confessions on a Dance Floor," the track that is receiving the most attention and critical acclaim is one called "Isaac." About a month before the CD's release on Nov. 15, rabbis in Israel claimed the song was about Rabbi Isaac Luria, the 16th-century kabbalist better known as the Arizal, and they blasted Madonna for using his holy name for profit.
For strictly observant women, being Orthodox can often mean putting a kibosh on artistic aspirations. Halachic prohibitions against singing and dancing in front of men means that many women who enjoy those art forms find they have little opportunity to perform.
Enter Margy Horowitz, a Los Angeles-based piano teacher from Chicago who'd heard about all-women's productions in her hometown from a friend. Intrigued, she started envisioning an all-women's production for Los Angeles with women not only just in the cast, but also in the audience.
In America, celebrity divas are instantly recognizable by their first names: Madonna. Britney.
Israel has its own diva: Rita.
Meet Eric Schwartz, the 29-year-old actor, rapper and musician known to his fans as Smooth E. Think a combination of the satire of Weird Al Yankovich with hip rap persona, sort of Eminem with a Woody Allen smirk. He does both straight-ahead rap and parodies of well-known rap tunes, often with a Jewish twist, though he's also willing to get R-rated as the mood strikes him.
"Chronicles: Volume One" by Bob Dylan (Simon & Schuster), $24.
Toward the end of last year's rambling, barely coherent film "Masked and Anonymous," Bob Dylan, its masked and anonymous star, spoke in voice-over one of his most direct and self-revelatory addresses. Fittingly, it was about the limits of what we are allowed to know:
There's an old adage that the overnight sensation took years to get there. It's certainly a sentiment that can be applied to 27-year-old Israeli music sensation Idan Raichel.
His debut album, "The Idan Raichel Project," shot straight to No. 1 upon its release in December 2002, going on to win Israeli Artist, Song and Album of the Year. The album itself went multiplatinum. Yet the so-called "unknown" Raichel who, according to the Israeli press "emerged from nowhere," had paid his dues for many years.
Dan Ettinger looks nothing like the popular image of a classical conductor. The Israeli is making his American debut with the Los Angeles Opera in Verdi's "Aida."
Here's what I used to know about Mike Einziger: that when he was 9, he played on the same soccer team as my good friend Mike; that he was the only kid in my second-grade class who could breakdance; that his mom makes great pizza bagels; and that he went to Calabasas High School. Well, that and the fact that he's now the Jewfro-sporting guitarist for the multiplatinum-selling rock band Incubus.
One hot summer night in 1997, under the starry desert sky at Masada mountaintop in Israel, I fell in love with Rami Kleinstein.
File under Incongruities, Major: One of the latest luminaries in the world of grand opera is an Orthodox mother of four from Brooklyn.
Johnny Childs, blues musician, has come a long way from his old life as an ultra-Orthodox hoodlum. He started off in Brooklyn as Yonah Krohn, the unruly third child in a family of 10, who would sometimes briefly steal the fancy cars outside synagogues and take them for joy rides. He left home when he was 12 because his parents didn't want him corrupting his younger siblings, and at 14, while in a group home, his life gained focus after he discovered the dulcet strains of blues music.
When Yale Strom was growing up in a traditional, socialist-Zionist home in Detroit, he was riveted by his father's tales of a Jewish state founded 20 years before Israel in a Siberian swamp.
Leon Hirsh Guide, conductor, music educator and musician, died in early October. He was 81.
Guide was born Feb. 3, 1921, in Turkey to Clara and Joseph Guide, who had left Russia during the civil war. The family moved to Chicago when Guide was 2.
Not long before Leonard Bernstein died, in 1988, the ebullient conductor and composer approached pianist Jeffrey Siegel backstage at Lincoln Center. His business was urgent. He wanted to discuss Siegel's "keyboard conversations," concerts with commentary pioneered by Siegel and based on Bernstein's TV performances of the 1950s and 1960s.
Attorney Gerry Schubert may be a relatively familiar face in Orange County; alongtime resident of Yorba Linda and a member at Mission Viejo's Congregation Eilat, Schubert is actively involved in Jewish Federation projects. But, soon, he may become better known for the release of his second musical CD, "Life in the Moment" (GalleryRecords).
Many of us who said, "Till death do us part,"never went the distance. Gary and Barbara did. They were a great lovestory. The fact that her parents didn't approve of their marriage,because he was a saxophone player, made it all the morepowerful.