Japanese Artist and Academic to be in the 2015 KulturfestNYC

Japanese Artist and Academic in KulturfestNYC: A First of Its Kind Festival of Jewish Performing Arts, New York City, June 14 – 21, 2015

  • June 14, 2015 at 7:30 PM
    Grand opening concert starring The Klezmatics, Neil Sedaka and global stars appearing in KulturfestNYC
    The Winter Garden at Brookfield Place
    200 Vesey St, New York, NY
  • June 15, 2015 at 9:00 PM
    Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater
    425 Lafayette St, New York, NY
  • June 16, 2015 at 1:15 PM
    Symposium in Yiddish Performing Arts, Media, Language and Literature
    At The Museum of Jewish Heritage
    36 Battery Pl, New York, NY
    **Hosted by the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at NYU

Haruyuki Kuroda, professor of Germanic Languages at Matsuyama University, Japan will offer a presentation about the Japanese affinity for Yiddish language, culture and klezmer music.  His talk will be illustrated by a mini-concert by the Japanese klezmer group Jinta-la-Mvta which is scheduled to perform in the festival on the evening of June 15th at Joe’s Pub.  

Zalmen Mlotek, Artistic Director of The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene met Professor Kuroda after his mother, Chana Mlotek, the fabled music archivist of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research helped the Professor research the origins of Yiddish songs which became popular in Japan.  Professor Kuroda hosted Mr. Mlotek on tour of 5 Japanese Universities in 2014.  The tour included a visit to the synagogue in Kobe where his father sought refuge during World War II as he made his escape from Poland via Kobe to Shanghai.  While Mr. Mlotek was presenting a performance lecture about songs of spiritual resistance during the Holocaust, he was approached by a young Japanese clarinetist and they began an impromptu Klezmer duet.  The young man was Wataru Okuma from the Japanese klezmer group Jinta-la-Mvta.

Jinta-la-Mvta is a musical group founded in 2004 by Ohkuma Wataru, clarinetist and bandleader of the groundbreaking Japanese experimental folk band Cicala Mvta and his partner and drummer Kogure Miwazo. 

Ohkuma’s interest in Klezmer music began in the late 80s. He was one of the first Japanese artists who listened to and played the genre. He has a repertoire of dozens of Klezmer tunes through his distinct perspective, setting him apart among non-Jewish klezmer musicians. Considered as one of the few Klezmer experts in Japan, he has also penned various pieces on Klezmer and Japanese liner notes of Klezmatics and Frank London. 

Haruyuki Kuroda is Professor of German Language at Matsuyama University (Japan), and teaches courses in German language and culture. He is the author of “A Cultural History of Klezmer Music” (2011) and co-translator of Hans Henny Jahnn’s trilogy “River without Banks” (2014), Sven Hanuschek’s “Elias Canetti, a Biography” (2013) and Leo Rosten’s “The New Joys of Yiddish” (2013). Klezmer lecture-concerts he organized in Japan featured Zalmen Mlotek (2013) and Elizabeth Schwartz and Yale Strom (2010).

For more information please visit www.KulturfestNYC.org