Tenor Mitch Smolkin is thrilled to be featured at the upcoming Toronto
Jewish Folk Choir’s concert honouring Theodore Bikel’s 85th birthday
and commemorating the late composer Srul Irving Glick.
Smolkin has met and been influenced by both men.
“Bikel is a very powerful yet intimate performer. I saw him in Montreal and in Krakow. One of his most memorable performances was part of a project that brings together musicians from the former Yugoslavia. He has a huge social conscience, and that makes me proud to be a part of this,” said Smolkin who recently returned from performing in Jerusalem.
At the concert to be held Sunday, May 31, at 3 p.m. at the Leah Posluns Theatre, Smolkin will be the guest soloist in the tribute to Bikel, performing four songs with the choir: Bobbes Kholem, Mordechai Gebirtig’s Reyzele and two arrangements by maestro Alexander Veprinsky – the humorous Purim song Hop mayne homentashn and Abraham Ellstein’s Tif vi di nacht (Deep as the Night). Smolkin’s solo set includes songs from his eclectic repertoire accompanied by pianist Nina Shapilsky.
Smolkin remembers meeting Glick at an awards dinner honouring the composer. “Something in his speech never left my memory. When he was asked to define what an artist is, Glick replied, ‘Through their art, artists provide a perspective on the world that helps us understand our place in life.’ I always found that powerful and inspiring.”
The choir’s performances will include Glick’s Time Cycle (Yiddish Suite No. 2), with words by the Toronto Yiddish poet Peretz Miransky (1908-1993), as well as A Glezele Lechaim (A Glass of Cheer), Lo Yisa Goy (Nation shall not lift up arms against nation) and Sephardi songs La Rosa Enflorece (The Rose Blooms) and Adio Querida (Farewell, Beloved).
Veprinsky will conduct the 30-member choir with solos by soprano Miriam Eskin and bass Herman Rombouts, accompanied by pianist Lina Zemelman.
Actor and singer Theodore Bikel has appeared in concerts for more than 50 years in the United States, Canada, Israel, New Zealand and Australia. He is best known for his role as Tevya in Fiddler on the Roof, which he’s played more often than any other actor – more than 2,000 times since 1967.
Glick was a prominent Canadian composer of chamber, oratorio, orchestral, vocal and choral music. Born in Toronto, he was the classical music producer at the CBC for more than 24 years, choir director and composer in residence with Beth Tikvah Synagogue between 1969 and 2002, and taught at the Royal Conservatory of Music and York University. He was also the recipient of a Governor General’s medal for his contribution to Canada’s culture and was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada for outstanding achievement. He died in 2002.
Tickets for the Bikel/Glick tribute concert at Leah Posluns Theatre, 4588 Bathurst St. – the choir’s 83rd spring concert – are $20 in advance, $25 at the door; children 12 and under free. For ticket reservations, call 416-636-0936 or e-mail [email protected] For Visa orders, call 416-398-3405.
Smolkin will also give a special Father’s Day concert on June 21 with Klezmer En Buenos Aires at the Glenn Gould Studio. In October, he will tour South America with the klezmer group.
For more information on Smolkin visit his website at www.mitchsmolkin.com.