This story is featured in Episode 57
As our listeners know, Polish-Jewish issues are very close to our hearts. We have featured many such stories. One of them was the 2016 Ashkenaz Festival . This one-week festival, organized every two years in Toronto, is one of the largest and most prestigious showcases of Jewish music and culture anywhere in the world (Ashkenaz Festival in Toronto).
Its name comes from Ashkenazi Jews – “Ashkenazim” – Jews from Central and Eastern Europe, whose mother tongue was Yiddish.
This year’s festival featured artists from across Canada and around the world, including Israel, Russia, Italy, Australia, Brazil, the US and Poland. I attended one of the two concerts by a mesmerizing singer Olga Avigail Mieleszczuk and her incredible band of the best tango musicians from Poland – Hadrian Tabęcki, Grzegorz Bożewicz and Piotr Malicki at the Lula Lounge in Toronto.
Olga Avigail Mieleszczuk, born in Poland, is a singer, accordion player and researcher of Eastern European musical folklore. Since the very beginning of her creative work, she has been focusing on Jewish music of Ashkenazi roots. She converted into Judaism and now lives and works in Jerusalem.
The show at the Lula Lounge focused on songs from the 1930s and 1940s popular in Warsaw and Palestine, composed by Polish Jewish and sung in Yiddish, Polish and Hebrew, with a special emphasis on the tango.
For one song “Bal na Gnojnej” Olga was joined by Ron Davis, renowned Toronto jazz musician and the grandson of the legendary owner of this famous pre-war Warsaw restaurant immortalized in the song. We featured Ron’s story and music on POLcast.