This year’s festival theme is “cultural collaborations,” and will celebrate the multicultural strands of Jewish music, from the African-American influences of gospel and jazz to an interfaith Sephardic song cycle:
• “Ayre” featuring clarinetist David Krakauer with soprano Lara Bruckmann and members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and guest artists, will perform Sunday, May 20, 7:30 p.m. at Temple Emanuel of South Hills, and Monday, May 21, 7:30 p.m. at Rodef Shalom Congregation.
“Ayre” — meaning air or melody in medieval Spanish — is an eclectic song cycle by Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov. Its multilingual texts intermingle three cultures (Christian, Arab and Jewish) as they coexisted in the late 15th century. This performance blends elements like a Sephardic ballad, Easter song and Sardinian protest song, into a theatric work about religious harmony.
A chamber ensemble features soprano Bruckmann, members of the PSO and Krakauer, returning for his third festival appearance. The program also includes “Der Heyser Bulgar” and Alexander Krein’s “Jewish Sketches” for clarinet and string quartet (with Krakauer) and a Sephardic work by Pittsburgh composer David Stock.
• “Kosher Gospel” with Joshua Nelson and the Kosher Gospel Singers, will perform Thursday, May 31, 7:30 p.m., at Temple Sinai.
Nelson uses “kosher gospel” as a way to claim both parts of his identity as a black Jew. Now in his early 30s, he has performed around the world, for heads of state, with Aretha Franklin and the Klezmatics.
• “Swinging and Singing” with the Ortner Roberts Duo, Zohar Chamber Singers, and HaZamir Pittsburgh, Sunday, June 3, 7:30 p.m. at the Katz Performing Arts Center of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, Squirrel Hill.
Tom Roberts (piano) and Susanne Ortner (clarinet) make their festival debut, paying tribute to both African-American and Jewish musical legends such as Scott Joplin, Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway and George Gershwin. Drummer Roger Humphries and multi-instrumentalist Vince Giordano will make guest appearances, as will the Agency for Jewish Learning’s HaZamir Pittsburgh high school ensemble and Zohar Chamber Singers, under the direction of Nizan Leibovich.
Visit pjmf.net or call 412-394-3353 for tickets.
Rebecca Hamilton will be the final speaker of the Pittsburgh Darfur Emergency Coalition’s 2011-2012 speaker series, Saturday, April 14, 1 p.m., in the Goldstein Lounge of the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill.
A “Washington Post” special correspondent, Hamilton wrote an acclaimed work, “Fighting for Darfur: Public
Action and the Struggle to Stop Genocide,” which analyzed the impact of the Save Darfur Advocacy movement.
Among the issues Hamilton will discuss are the role of Jewish organizations in driving the Save Darfur Movement and the strategies developed to combat the canard that it was a “Zionist Conspiracy.”
Clifford Bob, associate professor of political science at Duquesne University, will comment on her presentation.
Admission is free, but reservations are encouraged at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The spring 2012 Squirrel Hill Community Cleanup will take place Sunday, April 22, from 9 a.m. to noon. This year, the program also pays tribute to three longtime volunteers: Bicky Goldszer, Barb Grover and Ann Rose.
All volunteers will meet at the corner of Forbes and Murray avenues. Contact the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition at 412-422-7666 for more information.
Temple Sinai and its Tikkun Olam Center for Jewish Social Justice will celebrate volunteers and their commitment to social justice at this Friday’s worship service.
David Hickton, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, will be the guest speaker. He will speak on the subject “Working Together to Eliminate Violence and Intolerance.”
Nominated as U.S. Attorney for the Western District by President Barack Obama in 2010, Hickton previously served on the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts at the request of then-President Bill Clinton.
Hickton graduated from Penn State University and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
Services this Friday begin at 8 p.m. and are open to the community. Call Temple Sinai at 412-421-9715 for more information.
Chabad of the South Hills will hold a six-session class on “The Art of Marriage,” beginning Sunday, April 29, from 10:15 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday classes begin May 2 from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
There is a charge. Visit chabadsh.com or call 412-344-2424 for more information.
Squirrel Hill AARP Chapter 3354 will hold the Wednesday, April 18, meeting at 1 p.m. at New Light Synagogue, located at 1700 Beechwood Blvd. at Forbes Avenue. Following the business meeting, Richard Gibson and CAPA students will entertain. Refreshments will be served afterward.