During the epic annual Zlatne Ustne Goldenfest, the crowd was worked into a frenzy by a rollicking set by LITVAKUS, Zisl Slepovich’s klezmer band. We get a chance to hang backstage with the maestro and renaissance man, Zisl Slepovich.
Zisl Slepovitch (Dmitri Zisl Slepovitch) is an internationally renowned multiinstrumentalist (clarinetist, saxophonist, flutist, pianist, keyboardist, singer), composer, arranger, translator, and music and Yiddish educator. Slepovitch is the founder and leader of the Litvakus klezmer band, Zisl Slepovitch Trio, Assistant Music Director / Music Director / Music Coordinator in many productions by the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, including the Drama Desk Award nominated operetta The Golden Bride (2015/16) and Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish directed by Joel Grey.
Zisl Slepovitch has taught Yiddish language and culture The New School, served as educator and artist in residence at BIMA at Brandeis University, guest artist at University of Michigan, Indiana University, and Amherst College and Vassar College, a teaching fellow and performing artist at YIVO Institute for Jewish Research (New York City), Vienna Klezmer Workshop (Vienna), The Moscow Sefer Center, and Eshkolot Project (both in Moscow). Some of Slepovitch’s theater, film, and TV contributions include consulting and acting in Defiance (Paramount), Eternal Echoes (Sony Classical), Rejoice with Itzhak Perlman and Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot (PBS), original scores for the documentary Funeral Season, children’s musical The King of Chelm, ballet Di Tsvey Brider, and many more.
We get a chance to chat with Amythyst Kia before her set Globalfest in Times Square.
A professed Southern Gothic songster based in Johnson City, TN, Amythyst Kiah’s commanding stage presence is only matched by her raw and powerful vocals—a deeply moving, hypnotic sound that stirs echoes of a distant and restless past. A graduate of East Tennessee State University, she studied old time music and music performance, and it proved to be a pivotal moment in her life as she transformed from a long-time closet musician into a well-rounded, captivating performer.
Accoutered interchangeably with banjo, acoustic guitar, or a full band (Her Chest of Glass), Amythyst’s toolbox is augmented by her scholarship of African-American roots music. Her eclectic influences span decades, drawing heavily on old time music (Mississippi Sheiks, Son House, Jimmie Rodgers, Olla Belle Reed, Carter Family), inspired by strong R&B and country music vocalists from the ’50s-’70s (Big Mama Thornton, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Mahalia Jackson, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn) and influenced by contemporary artists with powerful vocal integrity (Adele, Florence and the Machine, Megan Jean and the KFB, Janelle Monae).
Before their premier of an exciting new work Nature/War/Love we hang out with Karou Wantanabe, Parul Shah and Sameer Gupta. We also check out slections from Karou Wantanabe’s latest album Néo.
In Nature/War/Love Shinobue flute and taiko drum virtuoso Kaoru Watanabe, known for his work on Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs and Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, and hybrid Indian classical tabla and modern jazz percussionist Sameer Gupta (Coltrane Raga Tribute, Adam Rudolph) team up with Indian classical and contemporary choreographer Parul Shah,whose work is expanding the classical medium beyond cultural boundaries.
Through the lens of lush contemporary compositions and dynamic improvisations, the thematic material found in traditional works such as Ghalib, Mahabharata, Amaterasu, and the Tale of Genji provides a framework for these three brilliant artists to explore the connections between these ancient texts and today’s world.