Lori's transcendent, expressive and changing voice is joined by internationally known singer, Michael Alpert (of Brave Old World), and violinist, Steven Greenman (of Khevrisa), amongst others, to produce a unique album of unforgettable music that you will want to hear again and again.
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I wanted everyone to know that the over 1,250 CDs I had printed are totally gone (well, I have a few open ones at home here). If you buy the digital version of the CD, I will be glad to send you the booklet as an electronic file to your email address. Please email me to let me know.
Meanwhile, I will be fund raising to reprint the CDs, as people still seem to want them. :-) If you would like to help bring this about sooner and donate to this 501 (c)3 non-profit, tax-deductible effort, please email me with your information, and I will be happy to talk with you about your support of Yiddish music.
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REVIEWS, SHORT AND LONG:
"I listened to the CD and It Is GREAT! Very well produced and the music is fabulous." --Phil Fink, host of Shalom America, WELW-AM, Cleveland, OH
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"Lori Cahan-Simon has done us a great service by bringing these songs together on one recording." --Dr. Itzik Gottesman, associate editor, Yiddish Forward
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"Lori's cd rocks!" --Mr. Lorin Sklamberg, Sound Archivist
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
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"I like this CD very much, thanks to Lori and my good friend Michael Alpert!" --Theodore Bikel
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"In the desire to cast off the ways of the old world and in the ashes of the Nazi death camps, most of the songs included here have been lost or forgotten by the majority of Yiddish performers. But in the first of what will presumably be a series of recordings documenting Yiddish songs for all occasions, singer/folklorist Lori Cahan-Simon collects fourteen Yiddish Passover songs and performs them with her top-notch ensemble of local and national Yiddish vocal and klezmer talent.
On half the numbers, Cahan-Simon shares vocal duties with Michael Alpert, best known for his work with klezmer group Brave Old World. The instrumentalists include Steven Greenman, violinist for the group Khevrisa, cymbalomist Alezandr Fedoriouk, who has worked with jazz artist Herbie Mann and John Cale of the Velvet Underground, and Walt
Mahovlich, who currently leads the East European folk group Harmonia.
A work of incalculable folkloric value, as well as an entertaining and educational tool, Cahan-Simon's CD is well-annotated with extensive background notes and complete lyrics, transliterated and translated into English. The musicianship is on a very high level, and Cahan-Simon is a
compelling, theatrical vocalist, whether she is tackling the
cantorial-style, rubato phrases of "Avodim Hoyinu (We Were Slaves)" or the intimate cabaret-pop of "In dem land fun piramidn (In the Land of Pyramids)" by "sweatshop poet" Dovid Edelshtadt. "Shvimt dos kestl afn nil (The Little Basket Floats on the Nile)", laced with flute by Mahovlich, has an appropriately Middle Eastern feel to it, and "Dayeynu" is rendered in an upbeat, klezmer-to-jazz arrangement. The highlight of the recording is the swinging, imaginative duet between Cahan-Simon and Alpert on "Der Bekher (Tayere Malke)". Henry Shapiro's acoustic bass keeps the tune moving at a speedy pace, and the musicans interpolate eight rollicking, traditional klezmer tunes in between the verses." -- Seth Rogovoy (Author of The Essential Klezmer), Sing Out! Magazine
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"Oh, what fun! At a time when secular Jewish organizations such as Workmen's Circle are finding new purpose, and at a time when the Yiddish revival is helping to ensure a new, if small, generation of Yiddish speakers, this collection of wonderful Passover Yiddish songs is most welcome. But, hey, who says you need to be Yiddish to enjoy? A few of the songs have familiar melodies, as on "Eliyohu Hanovi," or "Dayeynu" but now the text sung is in Yiddish. (Okay, so "Dayeynu" contains some untraditional riffs in the spirit of four cups of wine. This is a great Dayeynu, as the best of families sing it!) The selections are taken from the secular Haggadahs of the various Yiddish school systems in the US. None of this music should have been forgotten. Cahan-Simon is accompanied by some of the best klezmorim and singers, around, including Cleveland's own Steven Greenman (Khevrisa, et al), Alex Fedoriouk and Walt "Vlado" Mahovlich, Pittsburgh's own Henry Shapiro on bass, as well as Michael Alpert (Brave Old World, just to begin with the credits). In some cases, the music is simply captivating (as if that isn't enough), as on the duet between Cahan-Simon and Alpert on "Der bekher" (The goblet), or Greenman's and Fedoriouk's interplay on this new setting for "Avodim hoyinu" (we were slaves). Other pieces, such as "Miriam's gezang" (Miriam's song), by St. Petersburg Conservatory founder Anton Rubinstein, represent the vital Yiddish art song tradition. And then, hearing the fir kashes (four questions) in Yiddish, with a brand new, audience-participatory tune, makes me impatient for the seder, so I can teach the new tune and chorus to all.The album is accompanied by copious notes, Yiddish transliterations, and English translation. It's almost time for Passover, true, but even if your copy doesn't arrive in time for this year's holiday, you'll have almost a year to learn the new songs, so that next year, you won't have to complain about those songs that bubbe should have sung to you. Many thanks to Ms. Cahan-Simon, and to the whole gang, for making this wonderful recording, and for making it so wonderful." --Ari Davidow, KlezmerShack http://www.klezmershack.com/
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Just wanted to add my enthusiasm to the general warm reactions to Lorele's new CD. I received my copy a few weeks ago and it's been playing fairly constantly since. As others have mentioned, this is an important recording in itself as a contribution to the available recorded repertory of Yiddish song. However, don't be led into thinking that this is some kind of 'dry' archival recording. The songs are presented in fresh, skilful arrangements (by Steven Greenman), showcasing the considerable talents of Lori, Michael Alpert and Greenman himself, and conveying some of the pure enthusiasm of these artists for the material.Lori is a versatile singer, moving comfortably between vocal styles, from a rich deep sound on 'Eliyohu hanovi' to an intimate whisper on 'Peysakh avek', an attractive lullaby-style song anticipating Shavuot. My personal favourite track is 'Tayere Malke', where the nine verses of the song, performed by both Lori and Michael Alpert (using Warshawsky's melody) are interspersed by traditional klezmer tunes, which bring the whole song into one long dance set: it's clear from the recording that all involved had a lot of fun recording this.Had I time to write more, I'd mention some stunning tsimbl moments, a solo track by Michael Alpert, some great songs I'd never heard before, nicely produced liner notes... but I really don't have time... So, to wind up - this CD is a real pleasure to listen to." --Abbi Wood, Professor of Ethnomusicology, University of Southampton, UK
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"Lori's CD is first rate. The arrangements, the harmonies, the voices, everything is of the highest quality and very impressive, and very comprehensive! A beautiful job!" --Binyumen Schaechter, pianist, arranger, choral leader and composer
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"As I sat quietly listening to each track of this collection, I felt my spirit tingle with Yiddishkayt. Nothing quite stirs the 'Yiddish in my soul' than the sound of Jewish music being played and sung from the heart.
Lori Cahan-Simon has a voice that evokes both the joy and heartbreak this music contains. She wraps her emotions around the words and kisses every note like a Yiddishe Momme kisses her child.
When Lori sings 'Der Seyder' as her opening selection, she sets the mood for the occasion. I could see pictures in my mind of the many times I sat with my extended family around the Seder table in my parent's home. The warmth and love of these occasions has stayed with me all these years and Lori's warm voice helped bring those memories to the surface once again.
Of all the wonderful music included in this collection, two specific selections stand out most for me.
Lori's haunting performance of "Eliyohu Hanovi" touches the soul. The longing and hopefulness in her voice brought a tear to my eye and joy to my heart.
The performance of "Dayeynu" is totally original. Lori begins this freylakh song with all its boisterous and joyous rhythms and sounds intact. Suddenly her entire ensemble switches gears and swings into a wonderful Jazz-like tempo that adds a dimension to this number that heightens its already exciting mood; kudos to the entire group for this clever musical concept.
Michael Alpert, who is one of the foremost performers of Yiddish music known today, assists Lori on several vocal selections. Michael is a singer, dancer, and Klezmer fiddler. I wouldn't be surprised if he could do all of them at the same time; he is THAT versatile.
Lori has gathered a marvelous ensemble. They work together in a way that bespeaks their love of Yiddish music and of performing it with each other.
I highly suggest this CD to all people who have a love of Yiddish music. Although Pesach has come and gone for this year, the music is wonderful on any day. I cannot imagine anyone listening to Lori sing without having their spirits lifted and their heart touched." --Michael Fein, The Gantse Megilla http://www.pass.to/newsletter/Default.htm
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"Cahan-Simon has put together a sprightly collection of Yiddish Passover songs, the vast majority of which I haven't heard before. Those who grew up in the secular socialist Yiddish world - Workmen's Circle, the Farband and the like - will undoubtedly recognize many of them with great pleasure. She has also assembled a terrific group of musicians, most of them fellow Midwesterners, including fiddle player Steven Greenman, tsimblist Alexander Fedoriouk and singer Michael Alpert.
Cahan-Simon has one of those delightful rough-and-ready soprano voices, expressive, and very flexible. She pairs wonderfully with Alpert's reedy tenor and my favorite cuts on this charming record are their seven duets. The musicianship is very high caliber, with some beautiful fiddling by Greenman. Best of all, these songs haven't been recorded to death, so if you are looking to add some unfamiliar spices to your seder table's musical mix, this is a great place to start. There's even a version of the Four Questions I'd never heard before, and a "Dayenu" that veers between big-band swing and Beethoven-on-the-rocks." --George Robinson, The Jewish Week
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"At the time of writing this review, peysakh (Passover) is not far off, and whether religious or secular, this album would make for a wonderful seasonal treat; and even if you're not Jewish at all, it'll still make for a wonderful treat, any time of year, the songs are simply marvelous and Lori Cahan-Simon's great gift, like all great music and art is a gift to all mankind.
"Songs My Bubbe Should Have Taught Me" is a collection of Yiddish secular songs connected with Passover. The lyrics and music of these songs are by some of the finest poets and composers that Yiddish culture has given rise to. For this reviewer, these songs are a new discovery, and to paraphrase Lori Cahan-Simon's introduction in the liner notes, meeting with them has been like finding a long-lost friend.
Lori Cahan-Simon's vocals are outstanding, as are Michael Alpert's, another veteran of the klezmer and Yiddish song "revival" featured on this album. The supporting ensemble is superb and of impeccable pedigree, and Steven Greenman's arrangements are supremely crafted. Both production and presentation are simply wonderful, and there is a great atmosphere of heymishkayt (homeliness, homeyness). The listener is, as it were, somehow transported into somebody's parlour where the family and relations are gathered singing and playing, and he or she is made to feel at home. It is a comfortable as well as somehow comforting experience. The songs' stories are told with great eloquence and poignancy. Tales of great sorrow and sadness, of oppression and savagery, as well as of contentment and ultimately liberation and the triumph of the human spirit, unfold like some great epic. Here the listener without knowledge of the Yiddish language is greatly helped by the excellent liner notes by Lori Cahan-Simon, Dr. Itzik Gottesman and Steven Greenman, which include full translations into English of the lyrics of each song, a valuable aid to following the stories in greater detail. That said, even as a non-Yiddish speaker with only the most rudimentary knowledge of the language mainly through my interest in klezmer and Yiddish song, I found it unusually easy to follow the lyrics and understand most, almost instinctively, without reference to the booklet. Further testimony, as if it were needed, of Lori Cahan-Simon's great expressive gifts and her superb diction.
This album must be considered beyond essential in any collection of Yiddish song. The wonderful heritage presented in it simply must not be lost, either. To let such a thing happen would be unforgivable. Unfortunately, Lori Cahan-Simon is not, at present, supported by any record label, and had to raise finances to fund this album by herself. 'Songs My Bubbe Should Have Taught Me' is an ongoing project, and so I would like to urge you to support this worthy effort in any way you can. By buying the CD, or direct contribution if you can, or maybe you own/run or are part of, or even just know of, a business or some kind of organization that might be able to help and support this cause. (Ms. Cahan-Simon's contact information can be found elsewhere on this page.)" --"Renaissance Man" (aka Richard Sharma), composer, music reviewer and owner of the "Rainlore's World of Music" web site, http://www.rainlore.demon.co.uk/Reviews/LoriCahan-Simon-SongsMyBubbe_Vol1.html
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You think you have no desire to learn Yiddish? Think again. This collection of Yiddish songs taken from the secular haggadot of 1930s' American Yiddish schools is a powerful argument for taking a few lessons in the mamaloshen. It is currently very trendy to take music from the shtetl and make it funky enough to be played in nightclubs. The charm of this album is that the performers do not try to embellish what is already rich and often moving music. For Lori Cahan-Simon, whose voice is beautiful, this is a bit of a personal journey. Her grandmother sang in Yiddish, but never to her, so it was only years later that she discovered this "long, lost friend." Discover it for yourself, and it should become your friend too, particularly at Passover, when its lively versions of "Ma Nishtano" and "Dayeynu" should add flavour to any Seder. --Gaby Wine, The Jewish Chronicle, U. K., March 7, 2003
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A LITTLE ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THIS RECORDING:
"The songs on this album are all songs my bubbe (Yiddish for grandmother) should have taught me. Why didn't she, you ask? My grandparents all spoke Yiddish, but they kept it as the "secret language" so they could talk and the kids wouldn't understand. My father spoke some, but chose to teach me Hebrew, and not Yiddish. I remember thinking, as a little girl, that Yiddish was some long-dead language that people didn't even know how to speak anymore. I only heard a few words, like mentsh and tukhes. I knew no Yiddish songs, even though my father grew up listening to Yiddish radio programs that his grandmother had on all the time. Until I started teaching at the Cleveland Workmen's Circle and sang for my father the beautiful Yiddish songs I was learning, I never knew he knew any. It astounded me when he sang along with me in his resonant bass-baritone voice. Why didn't he teach me? He simply didn't think of it. But we had sung together every weekend when I was growing up. We sang on Friday nights when we went to the synagogue in Philadelphia where my father was the rabbi, the Fox Chase Jewish Community Center. When we went somewhere fun together every weekend, we sang together in the car. He taught me every kind of song I can think of. Every kind but Yiddish. Why? I don't know.
"My grandmother never taught me any Yiddish songs, but she should have. She had a beautiful singing voice and played piano, and was implored to sing "Sheyn vi di levone" at every party, but she never sang to me. As an adult learning Yiddish songs and music, I missed out on learning how to sing in the Yiddish song style directly from her, but one day I realized that I did learn from her, because my father taught me to sing and he learned to sing from my grandmother, who learned from her mother. Even though I didn't learn the words from my ancestors, I learned the nuances of style, of tone, of ornamentation -- the neshome, the soul, of Yiddish song -- from all of them through learning to sing from my father.
"My accidental meeting with Yiddish has been like finding a long-lost friend -- comfortable, familiar, an easy friendship. I love it. I missed it and I didn't even know it. Yiddish has filled a hole in me where I didn't even know there had been one.
"My hope is that this recording will help you incorporate these songs into your family, school, and holiday celebrations. Listen to these songs, learn them, and teach them to the next generation. This wonderful heritage should not be lost." --Lori Cahan-Simon
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BIOGRAPHIES OF THE ARTISTS:
LORI CAHAN-SIMON is a singer and teacher of many things. She has been singing for as long as she can remember, professionally since the age of 14, and has performed in countries and venues throughout the world ever since. She has worked as a songwriter for Motown Records in Los Angeles, and has sung in festivals, Atlantic City Casino showrooms, has been a featured performer on radio in the United States and Mexico, and has done much studio work in the United States, including jingles, children's material, comedy, and in Rock, R&B, and Jazz styles.
In addition to her own ensemble, Lori is the singer with the Workmen's Circle Klezmer Orchestra, which performs at many local venues and at the annual Yiddish in the Park Concerts. She performed a show of the Yiddish children's songs she has been collecting at the 100th year jubilee of the Workmen's Circle. She sings a variety of programs of Yiddish songs around the country, solo, and with her own ensembles. Lori also sings with her R&B group called N*O*S. She was the featured vocalist in the ensemble playing for famed New York choreographer David Dorfman's recent multimedia dance concert entitled Moving History! at Cleveland State University, and will be the keynote performer at the opening night ceremonies of the 2003 International Association of Yiddish Clubs conference in Baltimore, Sept. 4th throught 7th.
Lori teaches Yiddish Culture and Language at the Workmen's Circle in Cleveland through the visual, performing, and culinary arts. She earned an M. A. in Art Education from Case Western Reserve University and The Cleveland Institute of Art, and additional certification from Cleveland State University in Spanish. She has studied voice with Margaret Eaves of the Cleveland Institute of Music and with Hazel Zehner of the Cleveland Music School Settlement, earning auditioned scholarship awards each year.
STEVEN GREENMAN is recognized as one of the finest practioners of traditional Eastern European Jewish klezmer violin. He is a seasoned performer of klezmer music and a serious composer of traditional klezmer music, as well as a musical arranger (as on this album) and lecturer. He is one of the first American-born klezmer musicians to create a program and performance style based entirely on the repertoire of European klezmer violin music. With Walter Zev Feldman (cimbal), Steven co-founded the Khevrisa ensemble in 1998, dedicated to preserving and reconstructing Eastern European klezmer music through research, concerts, workshops and lectures. He has performed internationally with Khevrisa and with such notable klezmer ensembles as the Klezmatics, Budowitz, the Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band, and Kapelye. He has collaborated with New York dancer/choreographer David Dorfman and the Cleveland State Dance ensemble as musical director in Dorfman's Moving History!, a modern dance piece about Jewish identity, and has played with members of the Klezmatics in their 1997 performance of Tony Kushner's adaptation of S. Ansky's A Dybbuk. Steven has lectured and performed at the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, Poland and has been a regular performer with various ensembles at Toronto's Ashkenaz--A Festival of New Yiddish Culture. He has taught klezmer violin and has led string ensembles at the KlezKanada festival and at Living Traditions' KlezKamp. Working with educators Mitchell Korn and Amy McClellan of the Cleveland Orchestra educational department's Learning Through Music program, Steven was selected as a Teaching Artist and developed a children's program combining story telling and klezmer music. Steven is also a serious performer of Hungarian Nota, Romanian Gypsy, and Slovak folk music, and has performed with the ensemble Harmonia, which he co-founded with Walt Mahovlich in 1993.
Steven received both his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in Violin Performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, studying with Linda Sharon Cerone, Dr. Eugene Gratovich and the late Bernhard Goldshmidt. As a classical violinist he is a regular guest soloist with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, performing his own arrangements of traditional Eastern European Gypsy violin music. Steven has performed as a member of the Canton and Akron Symphony Orchestras and has participated in the National Repertory Orchestra, the National Orchestral Institute, and the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria.
Steven is also featured on the following recordings: as lead violinist with Budowitz on Mother Tongue; as accompanist with Alicia Svigals on Fidl; and with Budowitz and Alicia Svigals on Ellipsis Arts' Klezmer Music: A Marriage of Heaven and Earth.
MICHAEL ALPERT is one of the foremost performers of Yiddish song, a klezmer fiddler, and an outstanding Yiddish dancer and dance teacher. He is vocalist and fiddler in Brave Old World, a leading international ensemble performing traditional and modern Yiddish music, and is also well-known as the original vocalist for Kapelye. He was musical director of the PBS Great Performances special "Itzhak Perlman: In the Fiddler's House." An important link between Old World Jewish musicians and the klezmer revival, Michael had studied the fiddle repertoire of the late Leon Schwartz of Bucovina. He is a former researcher at New York's YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, and has conducted extensive research of traditional Jewish music and dance in the United States and Eastern Europe.
WALT MAHOVLICH, accordionist and flutist on this CD, got his start at the age of 19 playing Croatian and Macedonian weddings with traditional village musicians and began playing klezmer music in 1973. He has played frequent concert tours of Europe and throughout North America. Walt has been a featured artist at the Smithsonian's 1976 Festival of American Folklife, and a staff member at the Buffalo on the Roof klezmer workshops. He has performed at Smotra Foklora in Zagreb, as well as in Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and Kennedy Center. Walt has toured and recorded with Budowitz. He made his off-Broadway debut in Tony Kushner's A Dybbuk, performing at New York's Public Theater. He studied ethnomusicology at Sarajevo and produced the Unesco award winning album, Nova Domovina: Balkan Slavic Music from the Industrial Midwest. Walt currently leads the East European folk group Harmonia.
ALEXANDER FEDORIOUK began playing the cimbalom (tsimbl in Yiddish) at the age of seven in Kolomyia, Ukraine. Pursuing his passion for music, he received a Bachelor's degree in music from the Kiev State Conservatory, division of folk instruments, and an Associates degree in Music from the State Musical College in the city of Chernivtsy. Currently, Alex is pursuing his Master's degree in Ethnomusicology at Cleveland State University. He has performed and recorded as a soloist with several Ukrainian and American ensembles, such as Cheres and Harmonia and appeared in the Ukrainian musical films, Pisne Kalynova and Namysto Dlia Berehyni. Alex received awards at the national competition on folk instruments in 1987 and 1991 in Ukraine, and in Nebraska in 1997. He has toured through Ukraine, United States and Canada, performing at such concert halls as the United Nations General Assembly Hall, Kennedy Arts Center in Washington, D.C., and Carnegie Hall. Since coming to the United States he has been featured as a soloist on a number of recordings and performances, including projects with Nigel Pulsford of Bush, Erik Friedlander and Topaz, Herbie Mann with Sonna Terra, and John Cale of Velvet Underground.
NORM TISCHLER, originally from New York City, put himself through NYU (B.S. in music ed) by playing in the Catskill Mountains, where he got his first taste of klezmer music. He was a band director in the Hudson Valley and came to Cleveland in 1969 to work with the Cleveland Area Arts Council, teaching music in inner-city arts programs. Norm first met Lori while on tour with Tiny Alice, a well-known folk-rock band that recorded on the Kama Sutra label. Norm and Lori have remained close friends and co-workers ever since, and they both now work for the Cleveland branch of the Workmen's Circle, where Norm directs and conducts the Workmen's Circle Klezmer Orchestra. Norm is head of the Wind Instrument Department at the Northshore School of Fine Arts; is the sax player in the swing group Blue Lunch, which just completed its third CD, Not Live At the Copa; works with Lori's rhythm-and-blues group, N*O*S (ask her what it means); and is a sought-after session musician and on-call player.
HENRY SHAPIRO studied jazz performance and arranging at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. Though well-known as a performer of swing music with his band Swing Fever, he has been a member of various folk music groups encompassing Traditional American, Bluegrass, Calypso, and Latin, Hasidic, and English Country Dance music styles. He is the leader of the Pittsburgh-based Steel City Klezmorim. His debut album, Whatever Swings, was named best jazz album of the year in 1994 by the Newsweekly, in Pittsburgh. Henry has performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland, and toured in Europe. He has been informed by knowledgeable sources that he sings Yiddish with a heavy American accent.
LYLE MERDLER has been playing drums and percussion instruments since grade school, despite the best efforts of his parents. He is a self-taught musician and has worked with a variety of blues, rock and jazz groups around Cleveland for 15 years, including a stint with legendary jazz guitarist Bill DeArango. Lyle is the drummer with N*O*S and with the Workmen's Circle Klezmer Orchestra, through which he gained an interest in Yiddish and Klezmer music.
DR. MELVIN ARNOFF is the organizer and pianist for the Workmen's Circle Jewish Community Chorus under the direction of Lynne Leutenberg Yulish. He also organized and was the pianist for a klezmer group which has now grown to become the Workmen's Circle Klezmer Orchestra under the direction of Norman Tischler. Mel has been the music director of several musicals including Milk and Honey and Mame. He has accompanied numerous vocalists and instrumentalists including Cantor Katherine Sebo, Cantor Rory Sander, Cantor Ed Berkovitz, Cantor Martin Leubitz, Cantor Luis Danto, and the internationally known singer, Adrienne Cooper and violinist, Steven Greenman.
Dr. Arnoff is a past Executive Director of the Cleveland Workmen's Circle, an organization dedicated to preserving and promoting Jewish culture and languages, especially Yiddish and for speaking out on issues of social and economic justice.