On Saturday night, Oct. 21, approximately 200 Jewish music lovers converged on the historic B’nai Israel Synagogue in East Baltimore for a performance of “Innov Gnawa-Sebitiyin: The Jewish Songs of Gnawa.”
The performance — which featured the Jewish repertoire of gnawa, the ritual trance music of Morocco’s black communities — was the kickoff event of the “Lombard & Lloyd: Creative Alliance @ B’nai Israel” sacred music concert series, a joint effort of the synagogue and the Creative Alliance arts center in Highlandtown,
Modeled on a smaller scale after the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in Washington, D.C. – which offers a wide range of musical performances, entertainment, lectures and other programming, as well as worship services – “Lombard & Lloyd” will initially present sacred music concerts but could branch out into other forms of programming, say organizers.
The second event of the series will be a Nov. 8 performance by the Andy Statman Trio. Statman, a New York-based klezmer clarinetist and bluegrass mandolinist, is a well-known figure in national Jewish music circles.
The final show of the “Fall 2017 Sacred Music Festival” will be on Dec. 2 with cantor, composer and multi-instrumentalist Judith Berkson, performing with trumpeter Frank London of The Klezmatics and klezmer clarinetist Michael Winograd.
The 2018 schedule is still tentative, but organizers say they are already talking to gospel choirs, African drumming troupes and Chasidic vocal groups as possible acts. The scheduling and pacing of such events are also still to be determined. B’nai Israel’s Rabbi Etan Mintz says the performers and their material will be carefully vetted by organizers as well as the synagogue’s cultural committee.
“The notion of sacred music is that it transcends religions and denominations,” Rabbi Mintz said. “We want music that truly brings people together. We’re being thoughtful of everybody we’re bringing in.”
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