Lenka’s journey to spread Yiddish music on compilation of albums
Jewish Telegraph, March, 2006
FORMER child star Lenka Lichtenberg has used Yiddish poetry and folk songs for her latest album, Yiddish Journey (ARC Music).
The Prague-born singer had several top 10 hits in Czechoslovakia as a child and performed in musical theatre and on television.
She received her first formal vocal training at the Prague Music Conservatory, and continued her education at the University of British Columbia.
She obtained her Master of Arts degree in Ethnomusicology at York University in 1993 — her thesis was on Yiddish music of the Holocaust.
She taught music at the Ryerson Polytechnic University in Toronto between 1997 and 2005.
She now focuses on her work as a world music composer, performer, and singer/songwriter of both Jewish and universally-themed songs, and on cantorial study and work.
Her compositions were chosen for publication in 2013 and 2015 by Shalshelet International Festival of New Jewish Liturgy.
As well as being a solo artist, Lenka also performs with a trio, her five-piece ensemble Fray and on a number of collaborative projects.
After CDs Deep Inside (1999) and Open The Gate (2003), Lenka released Pashtes (Simplicity) (2006), based on a cycle of poems by the Toronto Yiddish poet Simcha Simchovitch. Fray (2010) started as a Yiddish project, but now features several languages.
For the past 15 years, Lenka has been studying cantorial music. She often co-leads Shabbat and High Holy Days services at Toronto’s Darchei Noam congregation.
One of Lenka’s current projects is Songs for the Breathing Walls, recordings of traditional and new liturgy in Czech and Moravian country synagogues.
This project evolved into a multi-media programme, which has been performed at shuls in Miami, Prague, Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Toronto.
Lenka was featured in a Czech TV documentary in 2011.
In 2014, Lenka released Lullabies from Exile featuring eastern European/Yiddish, and Iraqi songs, co-produced with Yair Dalal.
Lenka won a Canadian Folk Music Award for Vocal Group of the Year in 2008 with her Sheynville Express.
She has also won a number of Independent Music Awards, Vox Populi.
Yiddish Journey is a compilation of songs from previous albums including Fray, Embrace, Deep Inside, Songs for the Breathing Walls and Pashtes (Simplicity).
The album includes Zum Gali, Gali — Peace is the Only Way, which was originally a medieval song about the plague. It was adapted into an early kibbutz song celebrating hard work in the life of a pioneer.
Lenka’s spiritual quest is a strong theme throughout the album with D’ror Yikra (Open My Eyes), an arrangement of the ancient Yemenite Shabbat liturgy.
In November, Lenka releases an EP of Czech folk songs reimagined.
Watch the video to Zum Gali Gali at http://tinyurl.com/h7brbbp