Jewish music isn't just Klezmer songs

[attach]4255[/attach]Did you know Jewish music influenced jazz?

You’ll have a chance to discover how by attending the Jewish Music Week in Toronto: from Bible to Broadway running May 22-29, 2011 all over Toronto.

Often when people think of Jewish music, they think only of Israeli or Cantorial music, says Aliza Spiro, who founded the event with her husband Simon Spiro.

But the inaugural festival features so much more, says the Bathurst and Eglinton area resident. A roster of over 35 concerts, recitals, lectures and musical programs highlights genres as diverse as Jewish Broadway, capella and Big Band.

The goal of the festival, says Aliza, is to celebrate the diversity of Jewish music and expose all of Toronto to it.

“It’s a goldmine in Toronto of people who represent different types of music,” she says. “It was really to unite people through music.”

Local as well as international guests will be participating in the fest, which will be hosted jointly by local Jewish and cultural organizations, synagogues and educational institutions.

Aliza says they conceived the idea for the festival in the summer when they learned The Cantors Assembly, an international association of cantors, was holding its first-ever Canadian convention in Toronto in May.

A songwriter and singer, Aliza is heading up the planning committee of 15 volunteers.

They planned the event quickly, rolling out an art contest in January to local Jewish day and Hebrew schools asking students to depict what they thought Jewish music was. Winners’ artwork will be featured in the program brochure.

Though the events are occurring city-wide, Forest Hill-centric events include the Shinonome Chorus of Japan May 24 at Holy Blossom Temple, and — the highlight of the week, says Aliza — Halleluyah! Greatest Hits of Israel & Chasidic Song Festivals May 25 at Beth Tzedec Congregation, a concert starring cantors and singers from around the world as well as local student choirs. Simon, a cantor, will be producing the latter event.

There are other Jewish musical events in the city, she says, such as a biannual one held at Harbourfront Centre, but this festival is broader in scope.

And the response has been so positive that they are hoping to do another festival next year.

“We have enough program ideas to do Jewish Music Month.”

Lunch-time events are free and other event and ticket information can be found at [url=][/url]