For more than 20 years, the Jewish Music Festival has brought eclectic music from every corner of the Jewish diaspora to Bay Area audiences. For their 23rd annual event, festival director Ellie Shapiro has commissioned nine artists from Israel, Ukraine, New York, New Orleans and the Bay Area to create groundbreaking new Jewish music — and they only have six days to do it.
While the festival is underway, the musicians hole up in the basement of a divinity school in the Berkeley hills. On the seventh day, The Ark artists premiere the work at the closing night on the 2008 Jewish Music Festival. Spark gets an insider’s look at the process.
The Ark musicians all share a deep commitment to traditional music (from Mississippi Delta blues, to Ukrainian village ballads and Old World klezmer) and have used their talent to take these forms in creative new directions. Almost all of them have worked together before in different configurations. The Ark artists include: Frank London (trumpet), Aaron Alexander (percussion), Avi Avital (mandolin), Stuart Brotman (bass), Jewlia Eisenberg (vocals), Glenn Hartman (accordion and piano), Mariana Sadovska (vocals and harmonium player), John Schott (guitar), and Jessica Ivry (cello).