Events || Toronto Jewish Folk Choir Celebrates Goldfaden, Weinzweig, and Israel

Toronto Jewish Folk Choir Celebrates Goldfaden, Weinzweig, and Israel at 65 With Soprano Kyra Folk-Farber as guest artist

Raisins and Almonds

Music by one of the most beloved composers of Yiddish theatre highlights the Toronto Jewish Folk Choir’s 87th annual spring concert, Raisins and Almonds, Sunday, June 2, 2013 at 3 p.m. at Temple Sinai, 210 Wilson Avenue, Toronto.
The concert marks Alexander Veprinsky’s 10th spring concert as the Choir’s conductor, while pianist Lina Zemelman completes her 37th season as accompanist.
Soprano Kyra Folk-Farber, acclaimed for her performances of opera and oratorio as well as Yiddish music, makes her Folk Choir debut as guest artist. The choir’s dynamic tenor, Martin Houtman, is also featured as soloist.
Tickets are $20 in advance; $25 at the door; $15 seniors; $10 students; 12 and under free. They may be booked by calling (905) 669-5906 or e-mailing, or purchased directly from choir members. More information will be posted at
The concert takes its title from the major work – the song collection Rozhinkes mit Mandlen (Raisins and Almonds) – by the legendary Yiddish theatre writer/composer Avrom Goldfaden (1840-1908), marking the 105th anniversary of his death. Among the songs are playful children’s numbers, a song about work (Der Milechl/The Mill), the enduringly popular lullaby Rozhinkes mit Mandlen, and the stirring song of hope for the future, Gekumen iz di Tzait (The Time has Come). The work features soloists Kyra Folk-Farber and Martin Houtman with the choir.
The stirring 1953 work Am Yisroel Chai (Israel Lives!) commemorates the centennial of its composer, John Weinzweig (1913-2006), renowned as the dean of Canadian composers; as well as the 65th anniversary of Israel. It also marks the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, a singular act of defiance during the Holocaust by a small, poorly armed group remaining in the Ghetto, greatly outnumbered by their Nazi aggressors. The text is a Yiddish poem by Malka Lee, dedicated to Holocaust survivors who founded 12 kibbutzim (cooperative farms) in Israel’s Negev, after the war.
Also celebrating Israel’s 65th anniversary are songs in Hebrew and Khalutzim Lider (Songs of the Pioneers), a collection in Yiddish and Hebrew arranged by Zalmen Mlotek, with piano accompaniment composed by Alexander Veprinsky. The chorus "He Watching Over Israel," from Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah, also ties in with the theme.
Maestro Veprinsky’s arrangement of "Bai mir bist du sheyn," in the original Yiddish, adds swing to the program, with Martin Houtman as soloist.
The concert is presented with funding from the Toronto Arts Council, the Choir Foundation and friends.
Originally from Vancouver, soprano Kyra Folk-Farber ( is establishing herself as an exciting and versatile young artist, who has performed in Canada, the U.S. and Europe, in opera, oratorio, new music and Yiddish concerts.  At Toronto’s 2012 Ashkenaz Festival, she performed the Yiddish songs of Arkady Gendler with Christian Dawid and Marilyn Lerner.  She also recently appeared as a soloist with the ARC (Artists of the Royal Conservatory) Ensemble. When she sang the title role in Mozart’s Zaïde at England’s Aldeburgh Festival, the Financial Times of London observed that she “turned Zaïde from an illustration on a pack of Turkish Delight into a young woman glowing with ardent tenderness… and brought tears to the eyes of a full house.” She also sang Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain, a role for which Le Devoir praised her “powerful and biting” portrayal when she sang it with conductor Jean-François Rivest (LeDevoir). She has also performed as soloist under the batons of Kent Nagano, Kevin Mallon, and Paul McCreesh, and sung leading operatic roles in Pelléas et Mélisande, La bohème, La Voix humaine, The Rake’s Progress, and Claude Vivier’s Kopernikus. Holding a doctorate in vocal performance from the Université de Montréal, Kyra Folk-Farber received the 2011 grant from the Jacqueline Desmarais Foundation for Young Canadian Opera Singers, and the 2011 Ben Steinberg Musical Legacy Award.