About the Festival
Praised as "one of the highest-quality concert series in town" (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review), the Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival is an annual summer concert series devoted to improving cultural life for Pittsburgh's Jewish and artistic communities at large. Whereas there are many klezmer or Jewish folk music festivals in the U.S., the Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival is unique in its devotion to Jewish-themed classical music by Jewish composers and influenced by Jewish musical traditions. Each concert season is designed to provide the best possible forum for these works: performances by celebrated local musicians and guests, intelligent and well-balanced programs, and a unifying theme each year to place each piece in an appropriate and illuminating context. The Festival also presents popular and world music groups to achieve an eclectic musical variety.
The Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival was founded in 2004 by cellist Aron Zelkowicz. Currently in its tenth season, the Festival has received major grants from the Heinz Endowments Small Arts Initiative, Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts (a program of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts), the Pittsburgh Foundation's Andrew W. Mellon Fund, and numerous organizational and individual foundation grants. All events are open to the public and publicized in the mainstream media. The Festival is committed to outreaching Western Pennsylvania's secular as well as Jewish communities.
The Festival musicians are the highest caliber local professionals; players for the orchestral and chamber music concerts include members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Opera and Ballet Orchestras, and faculty members of the music departments from Carnegie Mellon and Duquesne Universities. Each season has also included special guest soloists, such as clarinetists David Krakauer, mezzo-soprano Mimi Lerner, Cantor Shira Adler, violinist Andrés Cárdenes and Noah Bendix-Balgley, percussionist Tim Adams, the ensembles Brave Old World, Andy Statman Trio, Steel City Klezmorim, Chatham Baroque, Brio, Zohar Chamber Singers, Ortner-Roberts Duo, and popular artists and band like ESTA, Neshama Carlebach, Joshua Nelson's Kosher Gospel, and the Sarah Aroeste Band.
The Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival offers local audiences a rare opportunity to hear contemporary works that are seldom performed; most pieces are local premieres and our first three seasons have included North American and world premieres, including major works and arrangements commissioned by the Festival for composers David Stock, Nizan Leibovich, David Cutler, and Judith Shatin. The Shatin work, Teruah, received a joint co-commission with the Jewish Music Commission of Los Angeles. Featured and in-residence composers have included Srul Irving Glick, Nizan Leibovich, Lucas Richman, Yuval Ron, and Judith Shatin.
The Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival is a professional organization that raises its funds as a project of its fiscal sponsor, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. PJMF's co-sponsors have included Temple Emanuel of South Hills, Rodef Shalom Congregation, Temple Sinai, the Agency for Jewish Learning, and JCC of Greater Pittsburgh.
The Vision of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh is to have a thriving, vibrant, and engaged Jewish Community. In order to accomplish this we raise and allocate funds and build community locally, in Israel, and around the world.
This project was made possible through the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts (PA Partners) program of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA), a state agency. It is funded by the citizens of Pennsylvania through an annual legislative appropriation, and administered locally by the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. The PCA is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
The Heinz Endowments support efforts to make southwestern Pennsylvania a premier place to live and work, a center of learning and educational excellence, and a home to diversity and inclusion. Committed to helping its region thrive as a whole community- economically, ecologically, educationally, and culturally- the foundation works within Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the nation to develop solutions to challenges that are national and even international in scope. One of the largest and most innovative independent philanthropic foundations in the country, the Endowments awarded over $53 million in grants in 2004.