Congregation Beth El to bring world Jewish music to Bangor for service, concert

Posted Nov. 27, 2013, at 11:11 a.m.
Robyn Helzner
Robyn Helzner
Robyn Helzner Trio
Robyn Helzner Trio

BANGOR, Maine — Congregation Beth El, 183 French St., will bring world Jewish music to Bangor for a Sabbath service at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, with cantor Robyn Helzner and a concert performed by Helzner’s trio at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7.

Helzner serves as cantorial soloist for Temple Sinai and the Sixth and Historic Synagogue in Washington, D.C.

Known as the ambassador of world Jewish music, Helzner has toured extensively as a solo artist and with members of her trio, Dov Weitman, a virtuoso on mandolin and guitar, and Matt Holsen, an accomplished singer and instrumentalist, who grew up in Spain and Chile.

“As Jewish people, we have worked throughout history to put our stories in the songs,” Helzner told the Berkshire Eagle, a Massachusetts newspaper. “It’s a wonderful way to connect with our Jewish roots, and at the same time, the messages are universal.”

The trio sings in Hebrew, Yiddish and Ladina, a Judeo-Spanish language.

Helzner has said that her concerts let the audience “experience the compelling melodies of modern Israel, the folk tunes of Eastern Europe, the love songs of Sephardic Spain and the eclectic compositions of contemporary North America.”

She performed underground concerts for Jews and refuseniks in the Soviet Union, according to information on her website. During the period of glasnost, Helzner was the only American artist invited to appear in sold-out concerts in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The historic concerts enabled audiences to reclaim their Jewish identity, Helzner has said.

Helzner officiated at the first bar mitzvah held in Beijing, China, and has worked with congregations in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo. Her trio’s recent performances included the Second International Jewish Music Festival in Amsterdam and a national celebration of Israel’s birthday that attracted 50,000 people to Washington, D.C.

For information, call 945.4578 or email congregationbeth.el@myfairpoint.net.

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