Close Encounters April 17 Concert “Fiddler Off the Roof” Explores Jewish Music Spanning, Cultures and Centuries Pianist Michele Levin, Clarinetist Paul Green, Tenor Alex Richardson, Violinist Sarah McElravy, and Cellist Yehuda Hanani, Gershwin, Bernstein, Mendelssohn, Milhaud, Bruch, Ravel, and… Klezmer

Fiddler Off the Roof Press Release

(Great Barrington, MA) The fascinating phenomenon of Jewish music—spanning multitudes of cultures and centuries—its ancient roots, its meandering trails as it wends its way across continents, and its contribution to the American voice—takes center stage at a matinee performance Sunday, April 17 at 3 PM at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington.

Works by Gershwin, Bernstein, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Milhaud, Bloch, and Max Bruch, (non-Jewish, but who adopted Jewish modes and themes), will be performed. And of course, expect a touch of klezmer, the toe-tapping Eastern European celebratory music imbued with spirituality. Medieval Iberian ballad repertoire will meet German Enlightenment (Bruch’s Kol Nidre and Felix Mendelssohn’s incomparable Piano Trio in D minor). The musical material has been passed from generation to generation, with adaptations, emendations, additions, and reinterpretations. Ravel’s rendition of Kaddish, which recycles the ancient chant in Aramaic for the departed dating back to the First Century, will be sung by tenor Alex Richardson, who this season appeared with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Symphony, at Santa Fe Opera and Spoleto USA.

The journey will include a world premiere of ZEMER for cello and piano by celebrated American composer Paul Schoenfield. Exemplifying the kaleidoscopic exploration of diverse traditions and the symbiosis of East and West, Schoenfield’s ZEMER is an adaptive reshaping of liturgical material to concert hall spirit, based on a melody by local composer Cantor Max Roth. Works from the world of klezmer include Divertimenti from Gimpel the Fool by David Schiff and Béla Kovács’s Klezmer Medley, a tribute to Argentinian-born klezmer master Giora Feidman.

Joining artistic director Yehuda Hanani and tenor Alex Richardson are clarinetist Paul Green, pianist Michele Levin and violinist Sarah McElravy. Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder, popular songs by Gershwin and Kurt Weill, Kol Nidrei, Sephardic melodies by Paul Ben-Haim and Eastern European melodies by Joseph Achron offer a rich spectrum—but only the tip of the iceberg—of what constitutes Jewish music. Since in Jewish humor the answer to a question is always another question, “What Is Jewish Music?” raises many theories, but more questions. A superb time will be had seeking answers.

Jewish music is the song of Judaism through the lips of the Jew. It is the tonal expression of Jewish life and development over a period of more than two thousand years.”—Abraham Z. Idelsohn, “Jewish Music: Its Historical Development,” 1929

Tickets, $45 (Orchestra and Mezzanine) and $25 (Balcony), are available at The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center box office,413.528.0100. Visit our website at


“Like a cobra intent on doing some charming of its own, the clarinetist Paul Green weaved, darted and hovered over his instrument at his recital in Merkin Concert Hall…conjuring gorgeous sounds.”—The New York Times

“You really will not find a voice like Alex Richardson’s for miles around. He has that beautiful, old-school “ping” to his sound that makes everything just so meltingly gorgeous and recalls the great tenors of yesteryear.”—Operagasm, Wade Davis

Close Encounters With Music continues to expand its original programming of classical, contemporary and cutting-edge music. The 2015-2016 season moves onward with celebration and discovery, featuring world-renowned musicians and extraordinary new faces. Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani has led the series since its founding, providing entertaining, erudite commentary that puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich and enlighten the concert experience. Each concert is framed by an introduction before the music, and is followed by an AFTERGLOW reception with an informal “talk-back” and an opportunity to meet the musicians.


Grand Piano Quartets–Brahms and Dvořák
Saturday, October 24, 6 PM
Walter Ponce, piano; Ara Gregorian, violin
Xiao-Dong Wang, viola; Yehuda Hanani, cello

“Dually” Noted:  Music for Four Hands
Saturday, December 12, 6 PM
Soyeon Kate Lee and Ran Dank, piano

J.S. Bach & Sons:  Legitimate and Otherwise
Saturday, March 19, 6 PM
Acronym Baroque String Band
James Austin Smith, oboe; Yehuda Hanani, cello

“Fiddler OFF the Roof”
Sunday April 17, 3 PM
Michele Levin, piano; Paul Green, clarinet; Alex Richardson, tenor
Sarah McElravy, violin; Yehuda Hanani, cello

The Art of the String Quartet
Saturday, May 14, 6 PM
The Dover String Quartet

GALA: “Music That Shook the World!”
Saturday, June 11, 6 PM
Michael Chertock, piano; Yehonatan Berick, violin
Yehuda Hanani, cello; Special Guest Narrator, tba

Curator Ken Moore
Inside the Met’s Instrument Collection
Sunday, November 15, 2 PM | The Mount, Lenox, MA

Professor and Inventor Edgar Choueiri
Making Waves | Sounds of the Future
(New lifelike 3D audio system in picture-perfect fidelity)
Sunday, May 22, 2 PM | Basilica Hudson, Hudson, NY

Mid-Winter Fireside Concert 
“Some Enchanted Evening”
Saturday, February 20, 6 PM, | Ventfort Hall, Lenox, MA
Mischa Bouvier, baritone; Yegor Shevtsov, piano

Sunday, May 1, 12:30 PM | Blantyre, Lenox, MA