"Annual Spring Concert of the Toronto Jewish
TORONTO JEWISH FOLK CHOIR
What is the Toronto Jewish Folk Choir?
Toronto Jewish Folk Choir, founded in 1925, is an amateur choral group
with a musical repertoire drawn from the heritage of the Jewish people
throughout the ages. The Choir performs under its conductor, Alexander
Veprinsky, with accompanist, Lina Zemelman.
Choir's aim is to preserve and maintain our secular Yiddish heritage
and experience and continues to express in song the Yiddish
working-class culture upon which it is founded. Its extensive
repertoire draws on Yiddish folk and working-class songs, and
compositions inspired by the humanistic classics of a thousand years of
Yiddish literature. In addition, Israeli, Canadian, and international
folk songs are performed in Yiddish, Hebrew, Ladino, French, Russian,
The Choir also performs works on Jewish
themes by classical composers and strives to enhance contemporary
Jewish culture through the commissioning of new works by
Jewish-Canadian composers. Among the well-known composers who have
written works for the Choir over the years are John Weinzweig, Louis
Applebaum, Milton Barnes, Srul Irving Glick, Ben Steinberg and Leon
Rehearsals are held at the Winchevsky Centre Wednesday evenings at 7:30 p.m. New singers are always welcome in all sections.
“The choir’s CD, Remembering Our Roots, containing beloved Yiddish songs, and songs in other languages, is available for purchase.”
For more information about joining the Choir, please contact
Luba Gatt at 905-669-5906.
To email the Toronto Jewish Folk Choir,
A Bit of Choir History
1925, a few Jewish immigrant factory workers got together and founded
the "Freiheit Gezangs Farein" (Freedom Choral Society) - the
predecessor of the Toronto Jewish Folk Choir - and gave its first
spring concert in 1926 under the baton of Hyman Riegelhaupt.
turning point in the Choir's history came in 1939, when Emil Gartner
took the Choir to its greatest heights andestablished its reputation
for memorable annual concerts. For the next 20 years, under Gartner's
baton and with a 140-strong chorus, the Choir performed on the stage of
Toronto's Massey Hall, accompanied by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra,
with such renowned singers as Paul Robeson, Jan Peerce, Regina Resnick,
Jenny Tourel and Lois Marshall.
Over the years, The
Choir continues to achieve a high level of musicality and
interpretation of the Yiddish repertoire. Today, the Choir has about
thirty-five members and has a busy performing schedule with our Annual
Spring Concert, concerts at the Baycrest Home for the Aged, Jewish
Music Month, Centre, Winchevsky Centre events, as well as at various
other community centres and cultural events. The Choir has also
participated in the "Zimrya" Choral Festival in Toronto, Festival
Canada 1997, sponsored by the National Arts Centre, and at the
semi-annual performed at the Ashkenaz Festivals of New Yiddish Culture
held in Toronto.
"Keeping the Flame Alive" is a video
made in 1995 by filmmaker Alan Collins documenting some of the history
of the choir and capturing the strength and vitality of it as it made
its mark on the Yiddish cultural scene in Toronto over several decades.
1949 - the first of the 25th year Jubilee Concerts with guest artist
Paul Robeson, conductor Emil Gartner, accompanist Fagel Gartner, at
Massey Hall in Toronto, Ontario.