Cincinnati Jewish Music and Culture Festival debuts in March

Various performing groups, artists and experts from around the world will converge on Southwest Ohio in March for the inaugural Cincinnati Jewish Music and Culture Festival.

This celebration of new and timeless Jewish music includes nine performances and lectures at venues across the region. Musical selections will center on Jewish composers and Jewish theme-related music.

Genres range from chamber music to Jewish folk and poems to an event dubbed “Jews on Broadway Cabaret.” On Thursday, March 7, the Mayerson JCC will host a performance of Music from Auschwitz by Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra.

The full event schedule is below.

“I want to use music to bring different cultures together so people can be seen and heard,” said Aik Khai Pung, the festival’s artistic director.

Highlighting more cultures, traditions

Pung grew up in a self-described multicultural setting in Malaysia. He finds that classical music traditions in the United States can sometimes be limiting because of a tendency to focus on popular European styles. 

Aik Khai Pung leading the Seven Hills Symphony

Through his organization Cincinnati Arts & Cultural Exchange, Pung vows to highlight more cultures and traditions. The Cincinnati Jewish Music and Culture Festival is one way he’s trying to accomplish that goal. Pung and the organizing committee spent 18 months bringing the event to life.

“Our work is fueled by a relentless passion for connecting individuals and groups from all walks of life with the rich tapestry of artistic traditions that make Cincinnati such a vibrant and culturally diverse city,” Pung said.

Other scheduled festival performers include Seven Hills Symphony, concert:nova, Xavier University, Northern Kentucky University, and faculty, students and alumni of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

On March 3, to kick off the month-long showcase, CCM alumna Samantha Stinson and Alex Weiser – director of public programs at YIVO Institute for Jewish Research – will give a lecture focused on Jewish/Yiddish art songs. Following the presentation, Stinson will take part in a recital with current CCM students inside First Lutheran Church in Over-the-Rhine.

First Lutheran Church is one of four primary festival partners, including the Mayerson JCC, Hebrew Union College and Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. The festival’s main sponsor is Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, with sponsorship from the Friedlander Family Fund.

Tickets are on sale now. Prices for each show range from free to $35.

Cincinnati Jewish Music and Culture Festival

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