An energetic one-hour set by the Yiddishe Cup klezmer band highlighted the 37th annual Workmen’s Circle Yiddish Concert in the Park June 28 at Cain Park in Cleveland Heights.
The show, titled “Klez from Kleveland,” featured all local performers.
For the finale, all of the performers in the show joined Yiddishe Cup onstage to perform “Ale Brider,” a traditional Yiddish folk song that translates to “All Brothers.”
The Steven Greenman and Mark Freiman Duo – featuring Greenman on violin and vocals and Freiman on keyboard – opened the show with a smooth 25-minute set of Yiddish songs with klezmer melodies.
They were followed by the Lori Cahan-Simon Ensemble, which performed two songs in Yiddish. Cahan-Simon’s strong vocals were accompanied by Walter Mahovlich on accordion and Greenman on violin.
Prior to the concert, the Workmen’s Circle Klezmer Orchestra, under the direction of Norman Tischler, played for an hour in the Colonnade.
The concert is primarily underwritten by an endowment Henry Green created in 1984 in memory of his wife, Eugenia. Since Green’s death in 1998, his son, Andrew, has continued to dedicate the concert to his parents’ memory each year.
The Cleveland Jewish News was the media sponsor.
Steven Greenman is known for his klezmer-styled violin playing and expertise in Eastern European music. The Cleveland Institute of Music graduate (he boasts both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in violin performance) is also a classical violinist. He’s going classical – and Chinese – in Sandusky on April 11, playing what’s known as “The Butterfly Lovers’ Concerto.”
Greenman, who lives in Shaker Heights, will solo with the Firelands Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Carl Topilow, the Cleveland Pops Orchestra founder and a friend of Greenman’s from CIM days. Topilow founded the Cleveland Pops and conducts the CIM Orchestra.
Greenman’s vehicle is a Chinese classical piece based on a legend called the butterfly lovers, he said in a March 19 telephone interview.
“It’s a story of two ill-fated lovers, and I believe there was a Chinese opera that had a similar story that came out much earlier,” he said. Written in the late 1950s in Maoist China, “The Butterfly Lovers’ Concerto” was banned for some time because the government considered it “way too western,” Greenman said. Its profile began to rise in the 1970s, when China relaxed its cultural constraints.
The work doesn’t sound Western, Greenman suggested, noting its use of bending and sliding notes. “I worked on it for quite a while,” he said. “It’s not impossible but it has its tricky moments. There are moments that are very virtuosic, that show the violinist’s technical abilities, and others that are very fluid, very beautiful and dreamlike.”
This will be Greenman’s debut with the Firelands Symphony Orchestra. He performed “The Butterfly Lovers’ Concerto” two years ago with the Chagrin Falls Studio Orchestra.