Jewish World Music concert coming to Bangor

Posted Nov. 22, 2013, at 2:12 p.m.

BANGOR — A musical weekend will be held at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6-7, at Congregation Beth El, 183 French St., as Cantor Robyn Helzner and her trio present World Jewish Music.

Helzner said the concert will allow attendees to 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.

Helzner also will tell vivid stories about the songs and the places she has visited as an ambassador of World Jewish Music.

Helzner’s trio includes Dov Weitman, a virtuoso on mandolin and guitar, and who arranges the group’s signature vocal harmonies. Matt Holsen, an accomplished singer and instrumentalist, who grew up in Spain and Chile, brings a unique mix of music from three cultures to the touch of his bass and the timbre of his voice.

Helzner has a reputation for bringing Jewish music to uncommon locales. She performed underground concerts for Jews and refuseniks in the Soviet Union. 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. Inspired by these events, she formed the Robyn Helzner Trio.

Two decades later, the trio continues to perform music that reaches into the hearts and souls of its listeners.

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

The group has been featured at the Smithsonian Institution, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and in concerts sponsored by the Covenant Foundation for Louisiana and Mississippi communities struggling to rebuild in the wake of hurricane devastation.

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

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