Here you will find information, song files, some audio and video links for all our past sessions. In the beginning, I was teaching Sing With Me daily. every fifth day or so we had a concert with musicians joining me from various parts of the world: Lorin Sklamberg from New York, Efim Chorny from Moldova, Vanya Zhuk from Moscow, Joshua Horowitz from San Francisco, Merlin Shepherd from Brighton UK and a couple of others. You can watch these concerts too. Enjoy!
Sing with Me - 77 Thursday 24 September - Russian Song
On September 25, 1968 42 years ago, at number one in the English Hit Parade was the Russian Romance "Dorogoj dlinnoju" / "Дорогой длинною". The song was performed by Welsh singer Mary Hopkin and the words were rewritten and the song was called "Those Were the Days". Mary Hopkin displaced the Beatles hit Hey Jude from the number one slot and held its position for six weeks. The song with the English name "Those Were The Days", turned out to be a huge success, became a "gold” record and brought a fortune to its performers.
The real authors didn't make quite as much of a fortune but they were a famous Russian duo: composer Boris Ivanovich Fomin and the poet Konstantin Nikolaevich Podrevsky. The original song "The Long Road" was specially written for the singer and poetess Elizaveta Belogorskaya, who performed lyrical songs. The composer Boris Fomin worked for a long time as an accompanist at her concerts. The most famous Russian performer of this song was the amazing Alexander Vertinsky - he made a pop adaptation and turned it into a "hit", glorifying it all over the world. The official date for the creation of the romance is 1924. In the spring of 1929, the All-Russian Music Conference was held in Leningrad, at which the performance and publication of romances were prohibited as being anti-Soviet. The prohibitive system of the General Repertoire Committee went crazy as almost all of Boris Fomin's romances, loved by the public, fell into the "G" (counter-revolutionary) category. In the 1950s, the attitude towards the genre of romance gradually changed and the song "Long Road ..." was performed not only in Soviet philharmonic societies and "emigre" salons but also in many parts of the world. Finally, in the 60s, an EP was released in the USSR with a version of the song performed by the Georgian singer Nani Bregvadze.
Apart from the English version, the recording of the song “Those Were The Days” was released in French - "Les Temps Des Fleurs", in German - "An Jenem Tag", in Italian - "Qelli Erano Giorni” and in Spanish - “Que Tiempo Tan Feliz ”. English versions of the song have also been released in Argentina, the United States and Poland.
Sing with Me 76 - Yiddish Song - Monday 21 September.
So manyYiddish poems and songs have a name “Di goldene pave” (The Golden Peacock), even a whole annual Yiddish Song School in London used to be called that for years. The Golden Peacock is a big symbol not only in Jewish culture, but in many cultures across the world. In Russianfolk fairy tales we know the bird as a magical symbol of the cosmos, all-seeing wisdom, immortality and light. In Beregovsky's collection of Jewish Folksongs (1938), the girl turns herself into a golden peacock and flies to her parents' home… In other Yiddish songs it represents the transient nature of love.
In Sing with Me today we will look at one of the most known songs about Di Goldene Pave and enjoy an easy and beautiful melody - no sheet music today, only the lyrics.
Sing with Me 75 - Russian Folk Song - Thursday the 17th of September.
Warn your neighbours, we will be singing loud today! "On a Saturday" is a lovely peasant song. It is simple and beautiful and it certainly encourages you to project your voice. Think fields, gardens, nature, love... and a bit of gossip! There is another, Cossack version about sending Cossacks to the Caucasus (meaning the Caucasian War of 1817-1864). File for today Vo Subbotu
Sing with Me 74 - Monday 14 September - Yiddish Song
An unexpected choice is coming to Sing with Me this time. We don’t usually explore spiritual songs, we also haven’t sung Macaronic songs yet. Here comes a very interesting example from the #Hassidic tradition (a Jewish spiritual movement that started in #Ukraine in the 18th century). Half of the lyrics is in #Yiddish, the other half is in Ukrainian. It is also in a Jewish mode and it has a nign (a wordless ya-day-day bit). Yiddish singers never sing it - it comes from another world… but recently a klezmer psychedelia & punk artist Vanya Zhuk (Moscow) came up with his version (see video here).
Sing with Me 73 - Thursday 10 September - Russian Song
Tchaikovsky and Waltz are taking us into the world of Russian Romance today. More than two melodies were written to the same poem by Y. Polonsky (1853), and we will sing two. One is a P. Tchaikovsky's (1887) romantic and passionate take on Gypsy singing. The other one, by J.F. Prigozhy (1886), is half-borrowed from the French composer Emile Waldteifel's waltz Estudiantina.
Explore a fragment of the Tchaikovsky's Song of the Gypsy Woman and then get carried away by the much more known and still very popular amongst Russians waltz My Fire is Burning!
A folk song about love starts the Yiddish part of our Autumn run. This well known Yiddish song has been sung by many, including my choirs, but never sounds the same. One of the main features of folklore is that no musical phrase sounds the same, every verse is a variant of the main melody thread and each phrase is embellished with various ornaments. We'll learn the main tune by ear and enjoy the beautiful melody.... and then we'll make it sound special. In the M. Beregovsky's collection of Yiddish folk songs we see the all the 4 verses notated all the way through. We will look at that transcription and put all the krekhtsn (Yiddish for "sobs", a vocal ornament in our case) in place, making the song more stylistically defined and more emotional.
Listen to Ruth Rubin singing a version of this song
Thursday 3 September - Sing with Me 71 Russian Song
The authour of one of the most known Russian songs decided not to claim his rights from the very beginning. He signed under his lyrics & music about the vastness and freedom of the Russian fields "Russian Folk song". He mentioned later that he thought he'd be most happy if people accepted it - and they did.
In the opening session of the second edition of Sing with Me we'll sing the song and talk about the untranslatable Russian word / concept of "родной" and "родимая" ("close to the heart" comes closest but... nah... I'll tell you all about it).
There are 1-3 extra vocal lines - you can sing harmonies with me. Also, I have a stunningly beautiful version of the Sretensky Male Choir's performance.
Here are a couple of other versions, one of them is the famous Sveshnikov Choir, the other one, by N. Obukhova, is classical - does it work?
Wednesday 22 July - session 70 Yiddish / Russian Song.
Birch trees and going back to one's homeland is the theme of the song of this session. This is a lovely Russian song composed for a Soviet film (Good Fellow, 1971) which nobody remembers now. The song, however, still remains in people's hearts all over the world and is now, thanks to a beautiful translation by A. Vergelis, a Yiddish song too. Here is the song sheet: Birch Ber'oza Zaft short Here is a classic Russian version by Pesnyary, a Belorussian band, from 1972.
Here is a beautiful version on the Yiddish song by Marina Gordon from 1976:
In this session we sing about a journey through the snowy Russian field towards a house in a shtetl with an amazing depth of memories, feelings and images contained within it. There are several existing melodies to this beautiful poem by D. Gofshteyn. This poem is only a fragment of a longer piece, “In Vinter Farnakhts” (On Winter Evenings; 1912), is one of the best-known pre-revolutionary Russian Yiddish lyrics.
When Brezhnev, the General Secretary of the Communist Party died in 1982, I was only nine. School lessons were cancelled and we were gathered in the school hall for speeches. Because Brezhnev was the only ruler of the country I knew, I was worried. It became stranger when my brother, excited by the spontaneous freedom, put on a vinyl record of Vladimir Vysotsky as loud as he could. Our neighbours rushed banging on the door – not because of the noise, but because for them it felt like treason to listen to him on such a day. Vladimir Vysotsky (Владимир Высоцкий), 1938 -1980, with his passionate croaky voice and poignant poetry, was considered the underground voice of the USSR. His wide-ranging and forthright poems were considered subversive by the Soviet authorities and were banned from publication, but they were cultural lifeblood for many of us. Vysotsky was an immensely popular figure who continues to be revered, read, and listened to. Today we sing one of his songs. Song file here: Pesnya o druge
Wednesday 8 July - session 66 Yiddish song
Sorry, there is no video of this session because of a technical clash on my computer...
Sergei Prokofiev composed the original version of the Overture on Hebrew Themes in New York in 1920. He composed it for the Zimro Ensemble, a chamber group that specialized in Klezmer and other Jewish music. It consists of two main melodies ostensibly taken from Jewish folk tunes. The second melody is a known folk song, which we will be singing in this session.
We find the melody to this song in the wedding repertoire of klezmorim. It’s played as a zajt gezunt (good-night piece). From this we can infer that the song was a parting song of the child from the parents after the wedding.
The tune is beautiful and I made a big choral arrangement of it for a SATB choir with divisi in each part but only got to hear it sung once. Mind you, it sounded quite amazing – a crowd of 120 people, London Klezfest & Yiddish Song School participants read the score twice through before the lunch break. Hear it in Prokofyev’s Overture here, it is the second theme.
In this session we go as folk as it gets! In this session we will travel to a region located on the Dnieper River, 360 kilometers west-southwest of Moscow. Smolensk Oblast, Russia.
The song we will sing appears in Field Work made between 1988-1995. It is stored in the Department of Russian Folk Art Song in the St. Petersburg State University of Culture and Arts. This particular song, "A Nightingale” was performed here by the Pochinok Folk Woman’s Choir. More than fifteen women, natives of Pochinok and nearby villages, mainly from the Pochinkovsky district, sing in the Pochinkovsk choir. The style of this choir reflects local musical traditions, and reinvents them as a higher Art form. The choir existed under the name Russian Amateur Choir of Veterans: its members are pensioners (60–80 years old) The are former collective farmers, mostly workers who were awarded honorary diplomas, prizes, medals and other awards. They are working people, who wholeheartedly love their native song. Listen to the Pochinkovsky Women's Folk choir singing it here:
In Sing with Me 64 we are going to sing a fun folk song in which a couple keep giving each other impossible tasks - it's a Jewish riddle song, like Tum Balalayka. Riddles are traditionally associated with love and courtship, so let's explore what they want from each other!
The version I'll be teaching comes from the M. Beregovsky's collection. This version was part of Di Yidishe Gas, a programme of songs by The Vocal Quartet Ashkenazim (Kazan, Russia, 2000-2005). There are other versions of both lyrics and music, see Ruth Rubin song collections and the Mlotek books of Yiddish songs. Here is a fun recording, for example, Raasche and Alan Mills Sing Jewish Folk Songs, 1962 Folkways Records. File for the session: Nem mir aroys a ber
Sunday 28 June, Sing with Me 63 - Russian Song
Odessa has played a significant role in Russian folklore and popular culture. Although the city has changed with the times, the Odessa variant of the Russian language and the Russian and Yiddish songs created in and about Odessa are the lasting product of a unique brand of multiculturalism. The Russian of Odessa shows influence of Yiddish and Ukrainian in grammar, lexicon, and phraseology, and Odessa folk humour is a culture of its own. Russian songs about Odessa reveal the mixed character of these languages. Many of these songs deal with life of the underworld, stylistically using the language of the so-called blatnaia pesnia… Come and sing one of these today! File for this session: Akh, Odessa
Wednesday 24 June, Sing with Me 62 - Yiddish Song
Enjoy a lovely Yiddish song that was collected around 1901 and is still going round the world, just like the subject of the song: "Our love will never be forgotten, and people will sing of it forever". Saul Ginsburg and Pesach Marek compiled an anthology of Yiddish-language folk songs (Evreiskiia narodnyia piesni v Rossii), which was published as a supplement to Voskhod in 1901, and came to be regarded as a landmark work in Jewish folklore. This song was part of their collection. It also appears in Judah Leib Cahan's collection in the beginning of the 1900s, and later on in other publications. Well, maybe the love of the authour was worth it! Here is an interesting version by The Bluestein Family, in Yiddish and English. Click here to watch Lorin Sklamberg and I recorded it too on our 150 Voices CD which has gone to print on Saturday, wish us luck!Download sheet music here: Fun vanen heybt zikh on a libe
Sunday 21 June - session 61, Russian song
In Sing With Me 61 we will sing two beautiful melodies to the same poem from the early 1880s, two gorgeous Russian Romances.
The story of this song is tragic: In Siberia in 1852 they found a dead body of coachman who got frozen during a long road. There was a notebook with handwriting poems in his bag. Name of the author of the poems Ivan Makarov was not known during his life time.
After a year since they were published the poems composer Alexander Gurilev wrote music for a poem what he liked the most. That was a start for the famous Russian romance The Lonely Coach-Bell. In three years another Russian composer K. Sidorovich wrote his version of music for the poem and this romance has got a long life and all people love! This is one of - if not the most beautiful of all Russian folk ballads. It usually goes by the English title, Monotonously rings the little bell. This song is often performed/published in combination with other popular and well-known folk or folkloric style Russian songs. It has all the elements of the melancholic Russian disposition - a bell ringing in the distance, a person leaving their home perhaps never to return, a coachman singing this monotonous melancholic dirge, fleeting memories of youthful joy, etc. Listen to a fantastic version of one of the melodies here.
The song has no title and the time of its creation is unknown; A record from the archives of the Pushkin House is accompanied by a note: “Music and the words of the Decembrists”.
The Decembrists, Russian Dekabrists, were Russian revolutionaries who led an unsuccessful uprising on Dec. 14 (Dec. 26, New Style), 1825, and through their martyrdom provided a source of inspiration to succeeding generations of Russian dissidents. They were mostly Russian army officers who led about 3,000 soldiers in a protest against Tsar Nicholas. The uprising took place in Peter's Square in Saint Petersburg. This is the only widely known song from that period of Russian history that is still sung at family and community gatherings and is widely performed by choirs, soloists and even Russian rock stars. Listen to the great Pyatnistky choir arrangement here.
Wednesday 10 June - session 59, Russian / Yiddish Song - two languages
Today's song is originally a Russian Art song (a Romance) which became a well known Yiddish song in the 20th century and is going round the world in these two languages. The lyrics is one of the M. Lermontov’s last poems. There is a connection to another culture here too: it is thought that the images in it evoke a celebrated poem by Henrich Heine “Der Tod, das ist die kühle Nacht...» from his collection «Buch der Lieder» (1827) that Lermontov read and admired. The image of a tree is present also in Heine’s poem, and the image of an oak seen by Prince Andrey after he meets Natasha later appeared in Tolstoy’s War and Peace as a symbol of spiritual rebirth. Join me in singing one of my absolute favourite songs in the world. File for today: Vykhazhu - Aleyn in Veg
Wednesday 3 June - session 58, Yiddish Song
Odessa was unique among Jewish communities in the Russian Pale of Settlement in that its Jewish community - 30% of the population - was not governed by a Rabbinical council, but by a secular Jewish self government. Jewish refugees of the pogroms flocked to the prosperous and relatively liberal city. This led to the development of a lively secular Jewish culture, the presence of hundreds of Jewish taverns and bars, and eventually to a whole genre of Russian language "Odessa songs" in a style that mixed Yiddish folk music, Russian pop music, and old jazz into a particularly local sound, beloved by Soviet Jews and still present in post-Soviet Jewish culture. Some and sing a fun Odessa song with me!Enjoy a great version here. File for today: In Ades
Sunday 31 May - session 57, Russian Song
Not many people know that the popular Russian Urban Romance The Slender Rowan ("Тонкая Рябина") has an authour. Ivan Zakharovich Surikov (1841 - 1880) was a self-taught peasant poet, best known for his folklore-influenced ballads, some of which were put to music by well-known composers (Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov among them), while some became real folk songs, like this one. The composer of this lovely tune is unknown.
Come and learn (or enjoy, if you know it already!) this song and hear the fun extra verse people traditionally add at the end to make a happy ending. We will also try to sing harmonies: we won't hear you but you can sing the main melody and have me sing harmony lines in your living room. File for today: Tonkaya Ryabina Slender Rowan
Sing with Me 56. Concert.Tuesday 26 May.
Classic Guitar, Tango, Russian & Yiddish Songs with guest Grisha Nisnevich (Denver, USA). Enjoy a short & sweet online concert of classic 7-string guitar music from & Yiddish Song with Gregory) Nisnevich playing in Denver, USA and Polina Shepherd singing in her house in Brighton, UK. Grisha (Gregory) Nisnevich is a classical guitarist and Argentinian tango performer & instructor. He maintains an active touring schedule as a soloist and as a chamber musician, teaching and performing tango. Recorded numerous CDs with Russian, Klezmer, Classical, Tango music and his own compositions. I met Grisha on my tour in the US in December when him and his friends turned up at my concert in Chicago strait from his own gig. He had his guitar with him, and we launched into a whole long set of informal music making. The audience stayed for that and it was hard to stop. Grisha and I have all that classical Russian Art Song repertoire together which we would love to perform together at some point… someday, somewhere… For now, please hear Gregory’s beautiful Russian music and, hopefully, a couple of Argentinian Tangos too and me with a few Yiddish songs.
Sing with Me 55 Nigunim (Jewish wordless songs). Monday 25 May.
Nigunim (sing.nign) are the age old Jewish “songs without words”. Usually, the term refers to religious songs and tunes that are sung by groups or sometimes soloists. It is a form of singing tunes often without any lyrics or words, although sounds like “bim-bim-bam” or “Ay-ay-yay!” are often used. Nigunim form a part of Jewish worship that enables the singer (either solo or in groups) to bring about a change in consciousness. This change in consciousness is known as “Dveykes”, or “union with (cleaving to) God”. This state of ecstasy is attained by singing the melody for anything up to one hour, when a state of trance and bliss is reached. A revival of interest in Klezmer music was sparked as part of Hasidism. The Baal Shem Tov, founder of Hasidism (Ukraine, 1700-), spoke of dvevkes niggunim as “songs that transcend syllables and sound.”
The sheet music was thrown together at the last moment, apologies about some mistakes in the last nign. By the way, it is not Hasidic, it was composed by Lorin Sklamberg of The Klezmatics.
Some of the nigunim from today's session: 4 nigunim
Sing with Me 54 Russian Song Sunday 24 May. I am sorry but for technical reasons there is no video recording of this session.
Today we enjoy a fun song about love, marriage and Russian parenting in a village but the main characters of this fun folk song are lapti, bast shoes (made primarily from the bark of trees such as linden or birch.)
Goblets with Wine is one of the new Yiddish songs that has gone around the world since it was composed in 2001. It has been recorded by Adrienne Cooper (USA), Andrea Pancur (Alpen Klezmer, Germany), A Besere Velt Yiddish Chorus (USA)(watch here) and Sklamberg & The Shepherds and sung by other soloists and groups. The wine in this song can be sweet enough to attract a wasp - here it is, sitting on my keyboard at the end of the song: watch here. The mode of this song is not major but most performers tend to change the original melody to this more familiar mode. Let's sing it exactly the way it was composed - in a Jewish mode!
File for today: Di Bekhers mit vayn
Listen to Adrienne Cooper's version
Listen to Andrea Pancur's Alpen Klezmer version in Bavarian with yodelling
Sing with Me 52. Russian Song. Friday 22 May.
Today we explore more of the connection between folklore and the Russian Romance. The poem is written in the folk style by Alexey Koltsov, who is sometimes not mentioned in music books as an authour, his poems often confuse for folklore. Aleksey Vasilievich Koltsov (Russian: Алексе́й Васи́льевич Кольцо́в) (October 15, 1809 – October 29, 1842) was a Russian poet who has been called a Russian Burns. His poems, frequently placed in the mouth of women, stylise peasant-life songs and idealise agricultural labour. Koltsov earnestly collected Russian folklore which strongly influenced his poetryю Many of his poems were put to music by such composers as Dargomyzhsky, Mussorgsky, and Rimsky-Korsakov. Today's songs composer is unknown.
Listen to these two very characterful performances of this song: Nikolay Gedda and Relikt Vocal Trio.
Sing with Me 51. Thursday 21 May. Concert with Josh Dolgin / Socalled, Montreal.
On a cold winter day in Montreal in December 2019 I was walking down a snowy street to visit Josh during his rare presence in his hometown. Montreal felt like Mother Russia that day... I had no idea this photo will come handy and Josh will be easy to find at home and get for a gig so soon...So here we are: Socalled will be performing from his place in Montreal and I'll throw a few Russian songs into the borsht all the way from Brighton UK.
In case you don't know yet, Joshua Dolgin, better known by his stage name Socalled, is a Canadian rapper and record producer, known for his eclectic mix of hip hop, klezmer, and other styles such as drum & bass and folk music. A pianist and accordion player, he has taught the latter at Klezfest London, where he has also run workshops in "hiphopkele"... socalledmusic.com
Sing with Me 50 (!) Yiddish Song. Thursday 20 May.
TODAY IS OUR 50th SESSION! Bring a glass of wine to celebrate!
Yiddish music has so many styles within it! Today we will sing an energetic nigun (a wordless song with Ta-lay-lay is the only words!) that came from Poland, remembered and recorded by a Holocaust Survivor. Also' we'll sing a quiet Yiddish lullaby - a total contrast to the nigun. These two pieces have very different modal and harmonic core but they are both part of this beautiful and diverse culture. Come and explore the contrast. Files for today: Nign n3 from Poland , Shteyt in Feld a Beymele
Sing with Me 49 Russian Song. Tuesday 19 May
Get some drinks and snacks, cook some fish soup - my dearest is riding a troika and bringing me a fish! I drunk some sweet vodka and - Ekh and Okh...!
We will sing this fun folk song today made popular by the King of the Russian Opera F. Chaliapin, sung by many and known to a lot of us from this legendary scene from a Soviet film "Приходите завтра" (Come Tomorrow, 1962). The film is a lovely story of a young girl from a tiny village all the way to Moscow wanting to study singing at University, but it's too late and she missed the entry exam... Anyway, she won't give up and will do everything to sing for the professor to get to study... I cannot find this film with English subtitles, sadly, but you'll get a very good idea of the character: Watch here File for today: Vdol pa Piterskay - Score
Sing with Me 48 - Yiddish Song. Monday 18 May For centuries Jews borrowed and made their own music from neighbourhood cultures, and today we are singing a song coming from that tradition. A Ukrainian folk song (and yes, it is about love again!) translated into Yiddish by Efim Chorny mentions klezmorim and makes it truly new Yiddish song!
We will also sing a nign (a wordless tune) collected by Merlin Shepherd from Majer Bogdanski (1912-2005), a tailor, bundist, Yiddishist, composer & singer originally from Pyotrkow-Tybunalski in Poland. Read more about Mejer, a great source for Yiddish and klezmer material for many musicians, here. Listen to a klezmer version by Budowitz here:
Sing with Me 47 - Russian Song. 17 May
It's all about love again! We are starting our run with a beautiful Russian waltz, a true "Romance". It was written as an expression of actual love story between the author of this Romance, Nikolay Listov and a provincial theatre actress Alexandra Medvedeva and was a memory of their first meeting at a ball. Nikolay came from a noble family in Pskov and his family did not approve his desire to marry Alexandra... I will tell you later what happened to this passionate couple.
Pyotr Leshenko and Dmitry Khvorostovsky sung it amongst many others - well, my grandfather and I used to sing it too! Here is the recording that made it popular: Yury Morfessi, 23 October 1913, Amour Gramophone Record. Listen here. Song file for today: Ya pomnu valsa zvuk
Stretching the possibilities of transatlantic and intercultural performances, Sklamberg & the Shepherds are hitting hard with a coming together from three diverse continents. Yes, Russia is a continent. Yes, New York is a continent too and so for that matter is Brighton. Kind of. Mostly. Presenting a diverse collection of songs and instrumental music from the Russian Jewish, Jewish Russian and just downright everything in between, these three hardcore, beautiful and handsome fanatics and veterans of World Music will delight, thrill and entice you into a world that is delightful, thrilling and enticing. Come along, join in the lockdown fun. Get your gatkes off and join us for a transatlantic party like no other!
"Let the song remain" (or "let the poem remain") - says today's beautiful song by two important cultural figures from almost a century ago: poet Yoysef (Joseph) Rolnik (1879-1955) and composer Vladimir Heifetz (1893 – 1970). Rolnik was born in Belorussia into a miller's family. Heifetz was born in Russia and educated at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Both emigrated to the US in the beginning of last century and made good careers in Yiddish culture.
Here is an interesting fact: when still living in St. Petersburg, V. Heifetz's accompanied Feodor Chaliapin, the king of the Russian Opera, on a tour of Russia. Also, in the USA, he arranged for The Don Cossack Chorus! He also composed for films, radio and television, and this beautiful melody is featured in a film Green Fields - Grine Felder, 1937.
Sing with Me 44. Russian Song. Saturday 9 May.
Skovoroda Ivan Grigoryevich
Today Russia celebrates The day of Victory, one of the most important dates in Russian history. My maternal grandfather fought and was injured in the beginning of The Great Patriotic War - this is how the WWII on the USSR territory was called. Because of his injury, he was sent to the border of Kazakhstan and China and became chief commander of a little town Zaysan only being in his mid 20s and he was granted a KGB status because of dealing with international matters - guarding the state border during the war time.
A Cossack-of-Don by ethnic background, he loved singing. Today we sing a Cossack-of-Don song (also a Russian Romance in some versions). In my view, the best commemoration to war heroes is not military parades but remembering the value of human life. To life! Listen to the Sretensky Monastery Choir interpretation here.
Today we celebrate the coming of Shabbat / Shabes with a nign (a wordless tune) and a song from a book by Ruth Rubin, an amazing Yiddish Song collector (see The Ruth Rubin Sound Archive here).
"Drink, brother, to life, let's drink a bit of wine. What drives away the sorrow, makes you feel so fine!" - says the song. So, brothers and sisters, bring a drink to the table and let's have fun! Song file for today: Trink, Bruder
Sing with Me 42. Russian Song. Thursday 7 May
Today we come back to Mikhail Lermontov, my favourite Russian poet, a rebellious genius, whom Sing with Me people know from The Cossack Lullaby. Lermontov was born into an aristocratic Russian family and grew up in a trilingual environment. His ancestor was the Scottish Knight George Lermont, who came to Russia in 1613 and served the Tsar. Lermontov's grandmother hired a Frenchman, named Jean, who became a servant to the young poet, addition his nanny was German. Here is a short documentary about him about his short life (26 years!). His poetry is full of turmoil, seeking light in the world and great passion, as a lot of poetry of the Romanticism period in literature. Today's art song (Russian Romance) composed to a Lermontov poem in 1848 by A. Varlamov, one of the very founders of the genre, will definitely get our voices going and stir some energy! File for today: Beleet Parus Sail
Sing with me 40. Yiddish Song. Tuesday 5 May
Guess what? We are singing about love today again! Looking for love and not quite finding it in this wonderful song, made popular to my generation of Yiddish singers by Chava Albershtein and The Klezmatics. Never mind, there is always a Tra-la-la to make it positive and hopeful.
The simple and folk style poem of this song is by Aliza Greenblatt (1888 - 1975), who was born in Azarenits, Bessarabia in the Podolia Governorate of the Russian Empire (present-day Ukraine) and then lived in Israel and the USA. File for today:Fisher Lid
Sing with me 39. Russian Song. Monday 4 May
Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov (1814 - 1841) was a Russian Romantic writer, poet and painter, sometimes called "the poet of the Caucasus", the most important Russian poet after Alexander Pushkin's death in 1837 and the greatest figure in Russian Romanticism. Many of us know a beautiful art song with his lyrics Alone on the Road ("Выхожу один я на дорогу" - Vykhazhu odin ya na Dorogu), in Yiddish Aleyn in Veg. Today we will look at his Cossack Lullaby, a beautiful song known with many different tunes.
To wake us up, if we have time, we shall also sing a simple and fun song about Bliny - Pancakes.
This will be an ambitious session! The first song can be sing in two parts and the second one in three! Bring pancakes to the table... or at least hot tea with lemon and honey!
"Out where the grass grows pretty wet, a well stands lost in thought..." - The Well / Di Krenitse.
Today's session will be in collaboration with Klezmer Brussels: Shtetl Saint Gilles Festival, where I would be teaching and performing today... The wonderful festival team of organisers and performers created this video in the left to keep us excited and to share the joy of Yiddish song, dance and klezmer music with us all. We expect guests from Brussels to join us today! The Well known tune (pun intended) is composed by Chava Albershtein, but there is a second tune to this poem by the great Itsik Fefer we may also have time for. Her is a file for lyrics and the alternative tune (1931)Di Krenitse
Sing with me 37. Russian song . Saturday 2 May
We are starting a new run of Sing With Me! with a gorgeous Russian folk song featured in a Soviet drama "Серёжа" (Splendid Days, 1960). Here is the whole film with English subs, do watch it if you have time, it is profoundly human, beautifully emotional and full of love. "The mother of a 5 years old Seryozha remarries. This man becomes a friend and a confident, an adult who see Seryozha not as a child, but as a person."
The folk song is a well known one, even Rimsky Korsakoff arranged it for choir, in Soviet times the Sveshnikov State Academic Russian Choir made it popular in the 1970s and my mother's Tomsk University Choir (Siberia) used to sing it too - that's how I know it, from my mother's choirs to my own. The sheet music is in two parts so you may want to chose to sing a harmony today! Little Pear Tree - Grushitsa - 2 parts Am
Sing with Me 36 Tuesday 28 April. Concert with Psoy Korolenko - The Stranniki.
Psoy & Polina will travel into virtual space and present a short & sweet intercontinental house concert online. Psoy will be performing from New Jersey, US and will join with a few songs from her house in Brighton UK.
Psoy Korolenko been referred to as a ”wandering scholar” and an ”avant-bard”. His multilingual one-person cabaret-esque show balances folk and klezmer music, free-style poetry and intellectual comedy. Sings in English, Russian, Yiddish, French, also recently Portuguese (Brazilian rock in new renderings and Russian translations).
Psoy & Polina have a Duo project, The Stranniki, which defines original repertoire based on their original Yiddish & Russian songs as well as multilingual interpretations & translations. They create a balance between serious listening and popular music, avant-garde & classics, folklore, chamber music, theatre song & cabaret, reflecting the multi-cultural and international nature of diverse world & Jewish cultures. Rooted in Russian and Yiddish folk, their multilingual journey starts in the Steppes and the Shtetl, then takes us to the new world and other planets. Join us for a tiny snippet of The Stranniki’s current internal journeys.
Sing with Me 35 Yiddish Song Monday, 27 April
Listen to this "Mayn Rue Plats" Performed by the Yiddish Community Chorus of Boston Workers Circle. The repertoire of A Besere Velt Yiddish Chorus grew out of the shtetls, the sweatshops and union meetings... I feel honoured to be working with this wonderful community, directed by Derek David (who, like me, also loves Gustav Mahler's music!). In December 2019, 80 members of the chorus sat shoulder to shoulder in a small studio outside Boston, me and my partner in this project Lorin Sklamberg in another room with a grand piano, accordion and masses of equipment… recording for 6 hours with no breaks! Have a listen to fragments of our non-edited, raw recording - just the bare voices, love of Yiddish song and passion for making the world a better place. This is also part of my most ambitious project so far, 150 Voices.
Join me today in singing one of the songs from their repertoire, a well known and very beautiful Yiddish song My Resting Place.
1947. The hall rises as the legendary Rosa Baglanova sings "Ah, Samara-town" in a concert at the Kremlin. Josef Stalin is in the audience, and it was he who unexpectedly asked the singer to perform this popular song, his favourite. The audience listen to the whole song on their feet, and the applause explodes through the roof... Watch video (different year) Today we sing this simple and still very much loved by Russians folk song. Song file here: Samara Gorodok
Sing with Me 33 Yiddish Song. Saturday, April 25
Gut Shabes! God's World is Light. Children - run into the fields, now is your time, as rivers are flowing, birds are singing... We will also sing this simple and happy song as a nign, without words (as one should, on Shabes!). Listen to an instrumental version of this tune (fragment) - Nakhes fun Kinder, recorded in 1913by the Belf's Romanian Orchestra. Song file here: Kinder, kumt, der friling ruft - Score
Sing with Me 32 Russian Song. Friday 24 April.
Today we'll sing a dreamy and melancholic melody from 1896, one of the Russian Art Songs my grandfather, a veteran of WWII, a retired lieutenant colonel, used to play on an old out of tune bayan (button accordion). It stayed with me for all these years and I even chose it as a central musical moments in a production of of Nikolai Gogol's Marriage in The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, where I was Music Director in 2013. I'll tell you about that moment which was funny and sad at the same time. Hear Vadim Kozin's interpretation of this beautiful romance here. File for today: The weeping willows Dremlut Plakuchia Ivy
Sing with me 31 Concert with Joshua Horowitz
Join us for a short and sweet house concert online, wherever you are. Joshua Horowitz, a pianist, accordionist, arranger, cimbalom player, teacher, writer and theorist, best known for his work in traditional Jewish music, also known as a composer - will be our guest on the show playing accordion from his house in Berkeley, USA. Polina Shepherd will join with a few Russian songs, you know, her usual, from her house in Brighton, UK...
Sing with me 30 Yiddish song. Wednesday 22 April
Following yesterday's Russian Song of the Drunken Student, today we'll sing a song about a person who goes to the fair to buy a horse, but decides to pup into a bar on the way. Can you guess what happens? This song was amongst the first songs in Yiddish introduced to us, new students of Yiddish music in Former USSR, when the so called Klezmer Revival got to us just over twenty years ago. I'll tell you a bit of our history and why this simple Yiddish song with a Roma origin (!) became significant to me and my FSU klezmer community. File for today: Shprayz ikh mir To the Fair
Sing with Me 29 Russian Song. Tuesday 21 April
“Left, right, which side is where?”. The character of today’s song can’t make up his mind – and it is nothing to do with politics! The original poem by Vasily Sirotin was published in 1859 under the title “Song of the Drunken Student”, in 1863 Alexander Dubuk set it to music. The song has become part of popular repertoire for Russian basses, and despite the original student reference it is usually sung by mature singers. Fyodor Chaliapin, the king of the Russian bass, used to sing it too. Watch Leonid Kharitonov at Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow on July 2, 1991, accompanied by an orchestra of Russian Folk Instruments (!). Here is a fun version of three basses. I am bringing a brandy to the session to get into the right mood, what will you bring? File for today: Ulitsa Street
Sing with me 28, Yiddish Song. Monday April 20
Today we will be commemorating The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The uprising started on 19 April 1943 when the ghetto refused to surrender to a police commander. It was the largest single revolt by Jews during World War II. The Jews knew that the uprising was doomed and their survival was unlikely. The main character of today's song, Motele, is a young boy who didn't live long enough to have a Bar mitzvah (13 y.o) but who fought on the barricades and his spirit was strong. It is about inner power and commitment. Bring your voice, let's get powerful together! Song for today: Motele fun varshever geto
Sing with me 27, Russian Song. April 19
We tear into our new run of sessions on a Russian three horse wagon (troika) on the frozen Volga River. A beautiful folk melody and an emotional lyrics may stir your heart so bring a shot of vodka to the table. A variation on Fyodor Glinka's poem about a journey on the main road to Kazan, written in 1825, this poem has no known authour. In the end of ХIХ – beginning of ХХ century it became one of the most popular songs and is still sung all over Russia. Sing with me about love! Here are a few examples: Ivan Skobtsov video from 1967, or watch Ludmila Zykina, 1970s. I was surprised and amazed to find it in Chinese too, see here. Song file: Vot Mchitsa Troika
Sing with me 26 - Concert. Russian 7-string Guitar & Yiddish Songwith guest Oleg Timofeyev, Iowa City . April 16.
Enjoy a sweet & short online concert with Oleg playing in Iowa City, USA and my modest self singing in my house in Brighton, UK. If there is anything you want to know about the Russian seven-string guitar (or semistrunka, as it often affectionately addressed), Oleg, an international authourity of the Russian and Gypsy guitar styles, knows the answers! Oleg will present 19-20 century instrumental music for Russian guitar played on an original instrument by Johann Scherzer made in 1860. I will sing a few songs in Yiddish.
Our concerts in the UK this April didn’t happen and they won’t be able to play and sing together, and we are delighted to have this opportunity to reconnect.
Sing with me 25 Yiddish Song. Wednesday, 15 April, 6 pm UK time
Roll up your sleeves! We are going to drive a tractor into a field and everyone will envy our energy and enthusiasm! Today's Yiddish song is Song of a Tractor-Driver, a deft and witty workers’ song from 1950s Poland, a historical gem, rediscovered by my friend and the sound archivist at YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York L. Sklamberg. My trio recorded this song in 2015 on CD Aheym, watch us here. File for today: Traktorist
Sing with me 24 Russian Song. Tuesday, 14 April
The Pyatnitsky State Academic Russian Folk Choir has been preserving and promoting folklore and “people’s songs” (народные песни) to Russia and the world since 1911. Composer V. Zakharov became the director in 1932 and led it until the end of his life, 1956. He composed a few songs for the choir that became overwhelmingly popular and still remain very present in Russian culture. (My choirs know his other songs from that period, “Live long and prosper” :-), “Oh mists, my mists”, and some Sing With Me participants have heard Lorin Sklamberg sing “Over the fields” in our concert a few days ago.) Listen to thePyatnitsky choir with today's song here. Today we will sing one of these songs and it is about falling in love. Let’s bring our hearts full of love to the session, but also don’t forget that wine helps heartfelt singing! File for today: I kto yevo Znayet Who knows
Sing with Me 23 - Yiddish Song. Monday 13 April
Fancy a ball? A waltz in a room with crystal chandeliers? The original melody of this beautiful waltz was composed by a German musician who moved to Russia as a youngster, graduated from the Moscow Imperial Conservatory in 1881 and worked for the Imperial Theatres. He was a bandmaster of the Military Music Band and Choir in Odessa from 1900. Yiddish performer Chaim Tauber (1901 - 1972), crated Yiddish lyrics to the well known melody and since then the song has been going round and round the world. Listen to Chaim and read more about him here. I will tell you about dancing this waltz with Arkady Gendler, a legendary Yiddish singer, who knew hundreds of Yiddish songs and passed them onto several generations of singers, including myself. File for today: Ershter Vals shorter version (or, for your interest, Ershter Vals full text)
Sing with Me 22 - Russian Song. Sunday 12 April
Today's song will be dedicated to Feodor Chaliapin, one of the greatest opera singers of all times. Possessing a deep and expressive bass voice, he enjoyed an important international career at major opera houses all over the world. He was born in Kazan, my hometown, in Russia in 1873 and died in Paris on 12 April 1938. Listen to his opera singing here. We won't sing anything from Chaliapin's opera repertoire today, so no Boris Godunov, Prince Igor or A Life for the Tsar but we will sing a beautiful Russian folk song, a sad one, so prepare your drinks and your handkerchiefs... File for today Lipa Vekovaya Linden Tree - Score
Sing With Me 21 Concert w/ guests Efim Chorny & Suzanna Ghergus (Moldova)
Enjoy a short and sweet online concert of Yiddish & Russian songs with Efim Chorny & Suzanna Ghergus joining us from Kishinev, Moldova and Polina Shepherd playing and singing in her house in Brighton UK.
Efim is one of the most important protagonists in the revival of Yiddish culture in Eastern Europe, Yiddish song composer, performer, teacher. Suzanna studied piano at the Music Academy in Chisinau and has been a wonderful accompanist to Efim for a couple of decades now. They are both at the forefront of the of Yiddish song scene and great activists of the "Klezmer music revival" movement.
Unlike other Sing with Me sessions, this concert was not recorded, there is no video on Youtube.
Sing with me 20 Yiddish Folk Song. Friday 10 April
Today we'll go to Odessa to visit auntie Chanke, tea with teiglach (knotted pastries boiled in syrup)... and some of us may lose our trousers! Kh'bin geforn keyn Ades (listen here) from the Ruth Rubin Archive is a very funny and tasty song. Bring tea and snacks to the table, so every time we sing "Chay pil, Zakusil" (yes, this phrase is in Russian!), we can have a sip. I will tell you why Adrienne Cooper z"l, a stellar performer and teacher of Yiddish music, cooked a huge pan of borsht for me and my friends in her house in 2003. File for today: I went to Odessa
Sing with Me 19 Russian SongThursday 9 April
We are singing a Russian tango today! It was composed for a Soviet film / musical in 1934. Watch this fragment and enjoy the original version by Leonid Utyosov's and his jazz orchestra. It is a funny musical story about the adventures of the talented shepherd-musician Kostya Potekhin (L. Utyosov). Being taken for a fashionable foreign tour, Kostya made a sensation in the Moscow Music Hall, becoming the conductor of a jazz orchestra, and a cleaning lady Anyuta (Lyubov Orlova) - a singer. The film was a great success both in the USSR and abroad, where it was shown under the name “Moscow Laughs” and you can watch the whole thing with English subtitles here. To prepare for today's session, watch this fun vocal warm up fragment. The teacher exclaims "the egg treatment has worked!" here. Today I will also tell you my personal experience with eggs and vocal warm ups. File for today: Heart Sertse
Sing with Me 18 - Yiddish Cumulative Song Wednesday 8 April
Today Passover (Pesakh / Pesach) starts, and it is traditional to sing cumulative songs, usually up to 13 verses. Let's have fun and see how many verses we can sing today. This song, Ma Noymar uma Nedaber, is by trio's take on the traditional text. Even if you are new to Jewish culture, this will be a real fun thing to do. We add one line in each verse so the length of verses goes up and up. Let's see if anyone brings matza to the session (I don't have any but I am making teff flour pancakes today instead). Files for today: Ma noymar - Score and Ma Noymar 13 verses
Sing with Me 17 - Russian Art Song (Romance) Tuesday 7 April
Today's song is about LOVE that comes only once in a lifetime and is one of the most beautiful Russian Art Song melodies. It was composed in 1877 by the great master of Russian Romances, P. Bulakhov, whose whole family was full of opera singers and composers. I have images of a party of beautifully dressed aristocrats in Imperial Russia, enjoying champagne and Limburger cheese, singing around the piano, outside is crisp show and sunshine... Oh, April and snow! I will tell you my touring story about the most unfortunate shopping for warm clothes in snowed down New York in April 2002... Song file for today Do not awaken Ne Probuzhday
Sing with me 13 Yiddish Song Wednesday April 1, 18.00 UK time.
Today's Yiddish love song Mayn Harts, Mayn Harts is found twice in the YIVO Ruth Rubin on-line collection, I personally learnt it from the YIVO sound archivist Lorin Sklamberg (The Klezmatics, New York) who will hopefully be joining us in the end of the session."...From each town, from each village you should write me a letter. I ask of you, my dear love, please not to forget me."
Sing With Me 12 Russian Art Song Tuesday March 31. 18.00 UK time
"Coachman, don't rush the horses!" is one of the most known songs of its type, the so called Gipsy Romance. Written in 1914, it is the vest representation of this style but the poet was German, and the composer – Jewish. It is interesting that just in the refrain, despite the lyrics, the music is rushing forward. Today I will tell you how I played for Boris Yeltsin, got a handshake from him and a kiss on the cheek from his wife back in 1996 in Tatarstan, Russia.
Sing With Me 11 Yiddish Song Monday March 30. 18.00 UK time
Today I introduce a dreamy and mournful song to you with lyrics by one of the most beautiful Yiddish poets of all times Moyshe-Leyb Halpern (1886 – 1932): "...tell me that there will be a warm summer coming soon and singing come children from the field. Tell me – maybe my yearning will quieten and lighten, lighten my world." I tell you how my vocal quartet Ashkenazim got lost in New York on our first day there in 2002 and was helped by the most unusual coincidence. This song was part of our programme.
Sing With Me 10 Russian Song Sunday 29 March, 6pm UK time.
We will be singing a lovely Russian song from 1951, "Осенние листья" (Autumn leaves) about true friendship through the decades of one's life and about spring in the heart. I will tell you a story about my international community of true friends who have been amazing in tricky moments in my travels from country to country. Please think of your true friends and maybe share something in the chat today. Let's feel that spring in the heart together.
Sing With Me 9 Concert & Sing Along Saturday 28 March, 6pm UK time
Polna & Merlin Shepherd : klezmer music, Russian song & nigunim (Jewish wordless songs). As always, there will be a song to sing together, also all the nigunim will be easy to follow. The Russian / Yiddish song will need your voices on the background (in your living rooms) so sing an upwards scale over two octaves... As always, we will tell you a fun story from our global musical travels.
Sing With Me 8 Russian Romance Friday March 27 6pm UK time
Join us in singing one of the most beautiful Russian Art Songs (a Russian Romance) from 1847. "...Enchanted star of love divine, /Of cherished bygone days of mine. But come what may, in my tormented soul /There shall you stay to keep me whole!"... I also promise to finish I telling you my brandy story from my student years: a whole bottle in one evening playing for the rich in Samara…
Sing With Me 7 Yiddish Song. Thursday 26 March, 6pm UK time
A Yiddish food & love song on Sing With Me today! Tell me your recipes, let's have a discussion on what Varnitshkes are. I am saying they are NOT dumplings! I will tell you how I first heard this song in Kazan, Russia, in 1990 and how I switched from a being a listener to singing Yiddish songs on stage in 1991. Here is a lovely version of this song by Zinoviy Shulman from 1939.
Sing With Me 6 Russian Song. Wednesday 25 March, 6pm UK time.
"Fill up, fill up the glass the fuller! Friends, let us spend this night the more merrily..." - says the song for today, a Russian student song from the XIX century. Today I will be drinking a brandy as I teach, bring your drinks to the table! I will tell you my brandy story from my student years: a whole bottle in one evening playing for the rich... Sing and drink with me.
Sing With Me 5 Russian & Yiddish Concert & Sing Along. Tuesday March 24, 6pm UK time.
Join us for an unusual session today, a concert & sing along: a Russian song or two and a couple of klezmer tunes presented to you by Merlin & Polina Shepherd. I may convince Merlin to tell you how he got a compliment from Al Pacino!
We will end with a song which everyone is invited to sing with us. This song was known at least as early as mid XIX century. Russians know is thanks to a Soviet film made in 1934, "The Youth of Maxim" where the main character sings the two verses known to us now. It is also known as a Yiddish song Vu iz dos Gesele and a Polish song “Szła dzieweczka» known from the beginning of the XX century.
Sing With Me 4 Yiddish Song March 21, 6pm UK time.
A Yiddish food song is our treat for today. I will also tell you how I was the first person in the world to hear this Yiddish folk song (!) from the composer. Yes, many people now this this song is folklore, it is sung (and has been recorded by professionals) all over the world and you'll find it listed on a Yiddish Folk Songs website. So let's talk about Jewish food and let's thank Efim Chorny for the wonderful tune.
Sing With Me 3 Russian Song March 22, 6pm UK time.
Today we will sing a lovely Russian waltz, a song about music and love written in 1945 and still very popular amongst natives. When I was almost 5 y.o., my mother took me to an entry exam in a local music school so I’d become their piano student for 8 years. One of the tasks was to sing a song to show pitch and general musicality. My mother and I agreed on a fast children’t song but when I stood in front of the teachers, I decided to change my mind. I gave my mother a cheeky look and proceeded to singing this song… Join me today to learn this beautiful tune and find out if I was accepted in the music school aged almost 5…
Sing With Me 2 Yiddish Song March 21 06:00 PM London
Today’s treat is beautiful Yiddish folk song about love and separation, a song that my friend Yana discovered in a M. Beregovsky book in 1999 and recorded back in Russia in 2000. I haven’t heard anyone else sing it since. The melody is very soulful and the lyrics is simple but heartfelt. Sing your heart out with us tonight, we can all sing about separation at this moment!
Sing With Me Russian Song 1 March 20 06:00 PM London
From the ancient legend of Orpheus and Eurydice via a medieval supernatural ballad found in Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Icelandic cultures to… a Cossack song known to every Russian… Tune in.