Denise Williams, a classical soprano who has performed recently in some of Toronto’s top concert, opera and theatre venues, is the featured performer at the Friends of Yiddish annual Chanukah Freylekhs. She will be joined by her son, Ben MacDonald on the clarinet and Brahm Goldhamer on the piano in a program that includes songs of labour and love, as well as Ladino, spiritual, contemporary theatre and Chanukah songs.
Beth Tikvah Synagogue, 3080 Bayview Ave. (between Sheppard and Finch), Sunday Dec. 8, 2 p.m. $15, FOY members $8. Please RSVP asap to Sandy, 416-458-1440 or email@example.com
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Brian Katz at Mezzetta: Guitarist-composer Brian Katz, who recently released a new CD of original compositions at a sold-out concert in the Heliconian Hall, performs selections from the CD (Leaves Will Speak) at Mezzetta Restaurant, 681 St. Clair. Ave. W. on Dec. 11, 9 to 11 p.m. Reservations, 416-658-5687.
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More Chanukah Concerts: The Toronto Jewish Folk Choir celebrates the holiday season in two concerts with Alexander Veprinsky conducting and Lina Zemelman at the piano. The songs are mainly in Yiddish but also in Hebrew and English. Bernard Betel Centre, 1003 Steeles Ave. W., Dec. 9, 3 p.m. $10, Betel Centre members $5; tickets available at the door. 416-225-2112, ext. 103, www.betelcentre.org. The choir also performs at the Barbara Frum Library, 20 Covington Rd. Free admission. Dec. 11, 7 to 8 p.m.
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The United Jewish People’s Order of Toronto (UJPO) is screening Conversations With Lee Lorch, a 46-minute documentary by Rachel Deutsch. The film is based on a series of interviews with Lorch, a human rights activist and mathematics professor who “was hounded out of the United States for his activism.” He moved to Toronto, taught at York University until his retirement, and remains an UJPO member. The film also explores that aspect of Jewish culture that is rooted in socialism and communism and the struggle for social justice and civil rights. Chandler Davis, another transplanted American social activist in Toronto, will deliver introductory remarks; bagels and coffee will be provided. 918 Bathurst St. Sunday Dec. 8, 11 a.m. www.ujpo.org, 416-789-5502.
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New in Print: Howard Rotberg, head of Mantua Books, recently announced the release of: The Vatican Against Israel — J’Accuse, by Giulio Meotti. The book details the Vatican’s antagonism towards the historic idea of a Jewish homeland, and its non-recognition of Israel for 60 years after 1948 – “a policy fitting to Israel’s Arab-Islamic enemies.” Mantua’s mandate is to “go beyond political correctness and moral relativism to enlighten our readers on the great ideological issues of our times.” www.mantuabooks.com
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Arts in Brief
• Toronto Jewish Film Society and Koffler Centre of the Arts present two documentaries on Jewish music in South America: Tango, A Story with Jews, and Rio Klezmer. Tango uses archival footage and interviews with musicians young and old to transport you through the rhythms of this rich tradition. Rio Klezmer draws you into the heart of Buenos Aires’ vibrant contemporary klezmer scene. With guest speaker Eric Stein. Miles Nadal JCC, Al Green Theatre, Sunday Dec. 8, 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets $15, $10, available at the door 15 minutes before screenings.
•Syrinx Concerts Toronto presents Israeli pianist Ishay Shaer, playing a program of Beethoven and Somers. $25, $20. Heliconian Hall, 35 Hazelton Ave. Sunday Dec. 8, 3 p.m.
• Critic Kevin Courrier examines how film director Robert Altman tackled many genres and redefined the genre picture. Tragi-High Comedy and Conclusion: Gosford Park and A Prairie Home Companion is his next topic at the Miles Nadal JCC, Dec. 9, 7 to 9 pm. $11.25 drop-in, students $6.
• ABC TV has purchased 10 episodes of the popular Israeli talent show Rising Star in which viewers rate performers in real time via phone or social media, with results updating instantaneously during the live performance.
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At the Galleries: Amarynth Gallery presents an exhibition of mid-century Czech Art Glass Masters, showcasing internationally acclaimed artists (Libensky, Vasicek, Klinger, Exnar, Visner, Novak) who often were forbidden to sign their art works while the Czech Republic was under Soviet rule. On view at 161 Cumberland St. until Dec. 20. 416-515-9191.
• The Great Upheaval — Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collection, 1910-1918 has opened at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Organized chronologically by year, the exhibition presents enormously important works by enormously important artists, and helps you understand each particular artistic innovation. Artists include Brancusi, Cezanne, Chagall, Duchamp, Kandinsky, Leger, Matisse, Modigliani, Mondrian and Picasso. Their works mirror the intense dynamism of that fertile period as artists hurtled toward abstraction and the world hurtled toward the “great upheaval” of a catastrophic war.