Saratoga Jewish Cultural Festival, Temple Sinai and Skidmore Office for Jewish Student Life, through a generous grant from the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York and sponsorship from Trustco Bank and Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP, present the 2017 opening program of the season: The Golfstrom quartet at Wilson Chapel on the Skidmore Campus, June 4 at 3:30 pm.Golfstrom is not your average band. The quartet’s front man, singer and accordionist Sergei Nirenburg, when not engaged in his musical avocation, is a PhD holding cognitive scientist who helps run a Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute facility known as the Language-Endowed Intelligent Agents Laboratory, home of cutting-edge robotics/artificial intelligence research that could make humans!
Golfstrom features Nirenburg on accordion and vocals, Jonathan Greene on clarinet, Brian Mennick on percussion, and Bobby Kendall on string bass. With clarinet, drums, bass, and beautiful singing in several languages, the quartet will perform songs from around the globe. They will feature music by Jewish composers from Russia, the Ukraine, Germany, France, the United States, Israel, Canada, and Latvia. You will hear singing in Yiddish, Ladino, Hebrew, English, French, and Russian.
Golfstrom takes you on musical journeys in time over much of the 20th century and in space between Europe and the Americas. Their musical stories will show how much The Great American Songbook of the 1920s-1960s owes to artists from both sides of the Atlantic. The music will bring you to the bal-musettes of old Paris, interwar Warsaw music halls, the famous Berlin cabarets of the 1920s, concert halls in the old USSR, and the musical cafés of Vienna.
Their repertoire includes all-time favorites from the old, wonderful Russian, Italian, and French movies, recreate the dramatic sound of Buenos Aires’ tango clubs, the joyful and wistful melodies that Gypsy and Klezmer bands used to play at Ukrainian village dances and Jewish weddings. The gamut ranges from the music of famous popular composers and artists of yesteryear – from Carlos Gardel to Jerzy Petersburgski, from Alexander Vertinsky to Jacques Brel, from Kurt Weill to Zequinha Abreu, from Nino Rota to Astor Piazzolla and beyond. You will hear life stories of these titans of popular music and amazing stories of the nomadic lives of their musical creations.
While Golfstrom dedicates this program to the many different strains of Jewish music from around the world, other programs of theirs have covered a broad array of music from Europe and Latin American, mainly popular songs from the ’30s to the ’60s. In this program mix, you will hear old and new, devotional and secular folk songs, traditional melodies, lullabies, ballads, and standards – you can hear klezmer dance music as well as waltzes, tangos, and foxtrots that were inspired or colored by the Jewish musical tradition. Also included will be Ladino romancero, the beautiful songs of Jews exiled in 1492 from Spain who settled all around the Mediterranean basin in those olden times. “Not the stuff we think of when we talk about robots or scientists engaged in such cutting edge technology,” says Phyllis Wang, Festival Coordinator. “You are in for a treat not soon forgotten.”
Please feel free to dance when Golfstom is playing — if you feel like it and if there is enough space. They have selected some of the melodies that have been wildly popular at different times and in different places in the hope of recreating some of the atmosphere of those bygone times.
Golfstrom will appear at Wilson Chapel on the Skidmore Campus on Sunday afternoon, June 4 at 3:30 pm. A dessert reception is included. $10 donation requested. For information or reservations, please call 518-584-8730 opt. 2. For the full festival schedule go to www.saratogajewishculturalfestival.org.