Soul Songs: Inspiring Women of Klezmer

Philadelphia Folklore Project



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

Philadelphia Folklore Project’s Soul Songs: Inspiring Women of 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 Lorie Wolf. 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. 

Additional unrestricted funds are added to each grant for general operating support.