«Jewish Observer»
May 2002
5762 Sivan

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April 12 - 25 the Second All-Russian festival of Jewish Culture was held in Kazan. CIS leading Jewish artists took part in the festival concert program. Chairman of the festival organizing committee Vladimir Raskin underlined the present feast turned out more difficult to organize than the first one. In-between two festivals died Leonis Sonts, who had greatly contributed to the development and propagation of Jewish culture in Russia and other former Soviet republics. The second All-Russian concert of Jewish music and dance of his name held within the festival became the best commemoration of the master. It attracted over 150 participants from Russia, CIS and Baltic countries (there had been by far more applicants, so a selection round was held). Chief cantor of Moscow and Saint-Petersburg choral synagogues Barukh Finkelshtein headed the Jury. His assistants were: professor of Moscow Conservatory, Merited Artist of Russia Victor Lenzon, director of Moscow Center of Arts Vladimir Pliss, lecturer of Kazan Conservatory Mavluda Khakimova and representative of one of main festival sponsors - American committee "Joint" -Yulia Karchevskaya (Saratov).

Festival-concert not only granted a possibility to musicians to discover works of their colleagues and learn artistic skills. It also became a feast for spectators. The opening ceremony gave floor to last year contest's winners: a young Kazan singer Alena Finger, dance group "Israel" and klezmer band from Bryansk "Zait Gezunt" joined by Barakh Finkelstein.

The second day was dedicated to Israel. A Nizhny Novgarod's branch of the Jewish agency in Russia held a fair of vacancies and at night the stage of Tatar drama theatre became a venue of the Israeli pop star Gali Atari, a winner of one of the Eurovision contests. Her winning song "Hallelujah" is long known throughout the world. In Kazan Gari Atari presented a program "Songs which have brought love". The same evening the audience heard a new program "Jewish street" by the local quartet "Ashkenazi". Festival's final evening was no less bright. April 24 became a performance day of our favorite 'Simkha" and "Kharkov Klezmer Band" conducted by one of the best violin players performing klermer music in CIS Stas Raiko.

Festival ended up April 25 in a gala-concert with participation of the concert winner - klezmer band from Samara "Alia" together with "Simkha", "Ashkenazi" and "Kharkov Klezmer Band".


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