Women of New Klezmer

Philadelphia Folklore Project



Elaine Hoffman Watts in concert. Photo by James Wasserman.


Susan Lankin-Watts in concert. Photo by James Wasserman.


Susan Lankin-Watts, 2015 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.

Philadelphia Folklore Project’s Women of New Klezmer will feature a concert of new compositions, written and performed by three generations of women who bring contemporary meaning to klezmer, a traditional, Eastern European, Jewish folk music form. Led by Susan Lankin-Watts, a 2015 Pew Fellow, the project will bring together violinists Cookie Segelstein, Deborah Strauss, and Alicia Svigals; pianist Marilyn Lerner; clarinetists Zoe Christiansen and Ilene Stahl; trombonist Rachel Lemisch; accordionist Lauren Brody; flute player Adrianne Greenbaum; bassist Joanna Sternberg; and percussionist Elaine Hoffman Watts, a 2000 Pew Fellow. Each artist’s work brings a distinct approach to innovating within the recognizable framework of the centuries-old genre—connecting folk elements of Baroque music to klezmer, integrating Northern Bulgarian music, or using texts that reflect on female experience. While in Philadelphia, the artists will perform a concert, teach two master classes, and participate in a panel discussion on how emergent klezmer is being shaped. For the concert, Lankin-Watts will collaborate with visual artist and writer Emily Socolov and theater artist Jenny Romaine who will create an opening “puppetry spectacle” drawn from klezmer roots.