The Arty Semite

A Star Is Born at KlezKanada

By Itzik Gottesman

  • Print
  • Share Share
Itzik Gottesman
Yosl Pollack, left and Edward Kagansky at KlezKanada.

Each year the KlezKanada Summer Institute, held for a week in August in the Laurentian mountains north of Montreal, reveals new surprises. This time around choreographer Steven Weintraub introduced a masquerade ball, so couples were dancing “Pas Despans” along with their bulgars and freilichs. Eight virtuoso musicians from The Other Europeans project, which examines Jewish and Roma musical relationships, put on a concert and taught some wonderful classes. And Hankus Netsky, founder of Boston’s Klezmer Conservatory Band, continued the summer collaboration between Klezkanada and the Discovery Project of the National Yiddish Book Center.

According to Netsky, The Discovery project “identifies people in the community who not only have interesting lives, stories and connections to Jewish culture, but also materials to share, for people to immerse themselves in; catalysts for creative work.‟ Some of the “discoveries‟ so far include a badkhn (wedding entertainer) from the 1930s and his notebooks, and a Yiddish folk-poet and his work.

This year, the Bessarabian, now Canadian, accordionist Edward Kagansky called up his old clarinetist Yosl (Joseph) Pollack, who now lives in Israel and whom Kagansky hadn‘t seen in years, to come and check out KlezKanada. It was too late for Pollack to come as a teacher, so he bought himself a plane ticket to Montreal and become the surprise hit of the summer — as well as definite material for the Discovery Project.

Pollack was born in Tashkent in 1946 after the evacuation of the Soviet Jews eastward during the Second World War. His family was from Moldavia and returned there after the war. He played clarinet in all kinds of bands, and looked up the old klezmorim that were still in the Kishinev area. He recorded and transcribed their melodies and used them in his gigs.

For people who know the American klezmer scene, Pollack‘s story sounds familiar. Moldavian clarinetist German Goldenshteyn, who died in 2006, became a “living treasure‟ after moving to Brooklyn. And Pollack’s interest in recording the klezmer tunes of fellow musicians and compiling them into books mirrors Goldenshteyn’s. In fact, years earlier Netsky had paired Kagansky and Goldenshteyn for week-long workshops at the New England Conservatory with fantastic results. To my ears, Pollack’s and Goldenshteyn‘s clarinet playing sound eerily similar.

So the participants at KlezKanada may have witnessed “a star is born‟ scenario this summer. In any case, the good music and good vibes of the place are hard to beat.

Itzik Gottesman is the associate editor of the Forverts and teaches Yiddish folklore at KlezKanada.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Yosl Pollack, The Other Europeans, National Yiddish Book Center, KlezKanada, Hankus Netsky, German Goldenshteyn, Edward Kagansky

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.