Light Up the Night for New Year

Treasure Trove of Songs by the National Yiddish Theater

By: - Jan 02, 2017

Light up the Night
Yiddish Theater Songs by Ellstein, Goldfaden, Olshanetsky, Rumshinsky, Secunda
Presented by the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene
Museum of Jewish Heritage
New York, New York
January 1, 2017
Photos by Victor Nechay, Courtesy NYTF

The concert of rediscovered and restored pre-and post-World War II music from the Golden Age of Yiddish Theater was presented in celebration of Hannukah.  Zalmen Mlotek, the music director of NYTF, conducted and also accompanied. He is a master of both roles and also the archivist who digs around for lost treasures.

The audience immediately joins in clapping, adding that most fundamental of musical instruments, the hands,  to the 16 piece orchestra on stage. Songs are often in minor modes but the overall mood is jubilant.

Adam B. Shapiro is the company ham and pulls us witlessly along with him, tumbling in his good humor and fun. Glenn Seven Allen is the groups' matinee idol and lights up the stage with his bright tenor.

Glamorous Grace Field, making her company debut and Rachel Policar, who mesmerized in The Golden Bride, swept dramatically onto stage. Field wore a strapless red silk gown with a full, rustling skirt and Policar was in a slim, blue-draped silk on which her colorful, rich tones floated like a stole of music.

Daniel Greenwood filled out the adult roster with robust rhythms and high spirits.

A brother and sister team, Sophia and Samuel Levit, middle schoolers who are part of the Folksbiene Youth ensemble, charmed us with sophisticated songs of childhood.

While the sadness and the yearning for a past home weave their way through most of the songs, the beat and the drive of the music is uplifting. If the purpose of Jewish music is to refine and transform us, the feeling may be more closely to that of a jolt of joy. The message may be helpful today. In challenging times, there is joy to be found in our common humanity.