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Ashkenaz Festival at Harbourfront Centre, Toronto

North America’s largest festival of global Jewish music and culture returns with its 12th biennial edition at Harbourfront Centre, Toronto, from August 28 to September 3, 2018.  “The festival has jam-packed program including music, dance, and literature with more than 250 artists across Canada, Israel, Poland, Russia, Italy, Ethiopia, Brazil, Australia, and the USA,” writes Harbourfront Centre website.

“2018 Ashkenaz Festival will shine a special spotlight on women in Jewish music and culture, conveying the centrality of past and present female artists in creating, maintaining, and evolving Jewish artistic traditions. Other festival highlights include a number of artists and programs representing the great re-birth of Jewish music and culture in the former Soviet Union, and an exploration of the Polish-Jewish experience through music, film, literature, and visual arts, marking a number of significant anniversaries related to that history. We will also feature an incredible evening of diverse Israeli world music at our Sunday main stage,” adds Harbourfront Centre website.

“Yiddish Glory — The Lost Songs of World War II” will open the Festival on August 28 at Koerner Hall. Yiddish Glory features anti-fascist songs and music documenting Nazi atrocities that were discovered in a former Soviet archive in Kiev. The songs have been resurrected by Yiddish Glory in a jaw-dropping new recording of music written by Holocaust victims and survivors in the Soviet Union during World War II.

Gili Yalo will also take the stage at the festival. Yalo is one of the most intriguing new artists in Israel’s world music scene. Combining his Ethiopian roots with soul, reggae, funk, psychedelia, and jazz, his soulful voice has elicited comparisons to Bob Marley.

Russia’s Dobranotch performs its own irreverent brand of Jewish, Gypsy, and Balkan traditional music. The band’s repertoire also includes Russian songs of the golden age of brass bands. Other performers include The Bashevis Singers who are the children of generations of people who lived their lives in Yiddish. With contemporary folk-pop music aesthetics, they sing classic Yiddish folk songs of hope and fear, love and sadness, and celebration and joy; “YID!,” a 22-piece collective of virtuoso musicians that unfurls a joyous, edgy, and ferociously danceable trip into their Jewish musical roots.

There’s also singer and accordion player Olga Avigail Mieleszczuk of Eastern European musical folklore. Her research and creative work focuses on Jewish music of Ashkenazi roots, especially from borderlands of Poland (Galitzia, Polesye), including Chassidic music, Yiddish folk songs, and multilingual Jewish songs. She will present two separate programs as part of the 2018 Ashkenaz Festival.

The 2018 Ashkenaz Festival will open at Harbourfront Centre, Toronto from August 28 through September 3, 2018.  235 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON M5J 2G8, Canada.

For details, visit