22.09.2019 - 25.09.2019 Events, Music, Polish-Jewish Relations

Yiddish Tango from Warsaw: Olga Avigail Mieleszczuk and Tango Attack

Sunday, September 22, 2019 – Wednesday, September 25, 2019 

The USA concert series will be accompanied by Poland’s leading tango ensemble Tango Attack and will feature numerous special guests. The dates are:

• Wednesday, 9/25 at JCC Manhattan (NYC) – with special guest klezmer clarinetist Michael Winograd and dancers

• Tuesday, 9/24 at the Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.) 

• Sunday, 9/22 at JCC Staten Island (NYC)

Beautiful and fascinating. The tango in Yiddish is for me the perfect match.” – MARK BURMAN, BBC

Olga Avigail Mieleszczuk’s life’s work is reviving the musical genre of Yiddish tango — two words rarely uttered in the same breath.” – LARRY LUXNER, JEWISH TELEGRAPHIC AGENCY

Polish Cultural Institute brings back acclaimed Yiddish singer and scholar Olga Avigail Mieleszczuk to the United States with the program “Yiddish Tango from Warsaw,” featuring new arrangements of popular tango songs composed by Polish Jews in the 1930s. 

The tour is presented by Polish Cultural Institute New York in partnership with JCC Manhattan, JCC Staten Island and Kennedy Center in Washington, DC . The concert at Kennedy Center is presented in partnership with the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in DC.

The multilingual repertoire of this project includes songs in Polish, Yiddish, and Hebrew, reflecting the distinct international expressions of interwar Warsaw. As the tango craze swept through Europe, Warsaw became the eastern European capital of tango and bore witness to the birth of the dance form’s most eclectic permutation, combining Slavic and Jewish elements with Argentinian musical influences. 

It was upon her discovery of one such song, Bialostocki’s “Rebecca,” that Olga first fell in love with Yiddish tango, fascinated by how the music reflects the complexity of Polish-Jewish coexistence. Raised a devout Catholic, Olga was inspired to dive deeper into Jewish culture after a life-changing interfaith visit to Auschwitz. After the visit, she began to study Yiddish and made it her mission to bring Yiddish back to the Jewish people. Today, Olga practices Orthodox Judaism and resides in Israel.

Olga’s repertoire includes a wide variety of songs from the 1920s30s and 40s, some of which were popular tunes in their time, and others that had been forgotten and only recently revived by Olga and her band for a contemporary audience. Olga shares the unique history of each of the melodies with her audience, weaving together compelling stories of Yiddish stars from the Old World. A list of songs can be found at this link, and descriptions with lyrics are available by request.

Last year Olga presented Yiddish Tango from Warsaw at Toronto’s Ashkenaz Festival and presented concerts and workshops at the internationally acclaimed klezmer gathering KlezKanada. Olga’s concerts often feature special guest singers and musicians such as legendary singer Slawa Przybylska, acclaimed jazz pianist from Toronto Ron Davis, and leading Israeli performers. In 2013, Olga toured North America with a project Polesye – Jewish Folksongs from Shtetl, project inspired by the repertoire of Miriam Nirenberg, with concerts at Atrium at Lincoln CenterChutzpah! FestivalJewish Music Festival in Berkeley and JCC in Berkeley.

WHAT: “Yiddish Tango from Warsaw” with Olga Avigail Mieleszczuk and Tango Attack 
WHERE: JCC of Staten Island, 1466 Manor Road, Staten Island, NY 10314
WHEN: Sunday, September 22, 2019, 3PM 

WHAT: “Yiddish Tango from Warsaw” with Olga Avigail Mieleszczuk and Tango Attack
WHERE: The Kennedy Center, Millennium Stage, 2700 F St NW, Washington, DC 20566
WHEN: Tuesday, September 24, 2019, 6PM (seating opens at 5:30)
ADMISSION: FREE (parking not provided)

WHAT: “Yiddish Tango from Warsaw” with Olga Avigail Mieleszczuk and Tango Attack, with special guest Michael Winograd
WHERE: The Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, Goldman-Sonnenfeldt Auditorium, 334 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10023
WHEN: Wednesday, September 25, 2019, 7:30PM 
ADMISSION: $20 members; $25 general admission 


Olga Avigail
2017 – “Yiddish Tango Live in Jerusalem”
2015 – “Li-La-Lo”
2013 – “Jewish Songs from Polesye“ 

Tango Attack
2018 – “Tango Attack Live in Cieszyn”
2017 – “Yiddish Tango Live in Jerusalem”

Olga Avigail is a singer, accordion player and researcher of Eastern European musical folklore. Olga is educated in classical music and graduated with a master’s degree in Cultural Anthropology (Warsaw University). 

Born in Warsaw, she divides her time between her hometown and Jerusalem, where she currently resides. She initiates Polish-Israeli music projects and collaborates with organizations promoting Jewish culture in those two countries. 

Since the very beginning of her creative work, she has been focusing on Jewish music of Ashkenazi roots, especially from borderlands of Poland (Galitzia, Polesye). She has studied Chassidic music, folk Yiddish songs, multilingual Jewish songs, participated in a two-year seminar for Yiddish songs at the Yiddish Theatre in Warsaw and is studying Yiddish at the Yung Yiddish Center in Tel Aviv. Olga has been also studying traditional singing techniques of Slavic music (such as Ukrainian “white voice”). 

In 2013 with a group of musicians she initiated the project “Jewish Polesye” which resulted in her debut album. Olga was inspired by the eclectic set of musical material from the repertoire of the 1930’s era Jewish folk singer, Mariam Nirenberg. Nirenberg comes from Polesye, which used to be a borderland of cultures and languages, one of the wildest regions in Europe. The project evokes the lost world of the multicultural Polesye, where Yiddish interwind with Ukrainian and Polish. Its premiere took place at Lincoln Center in New York. It was successfully presented at various festivals of Jewish music and culture all around the world (USA, Canada, Israel, Poland).

Olga then turned to urban music. “Li-La-Lo” is the name of the second album and at the same time a musical cabaret, set up in Tel Aviv in 1944 by a pianist and composer Moshe Wilenski and poet Natan Alterman who emigrated to Palestine from Warsaw. Based on works of pre-war Warsaw cabarets, Li-La-Lo achieved great success. Olga with her musicians began performing tango and other songs which were popular in Warsaw and Jerusalem in the 1940s.

“Yiddish Tango” is the latest project by Olga Avigail Mieleszczuk. In 2017 the artist invited leading Polish tango musicians – Tango Attack – to create new arrangements of the pre-war Warsaw tangos. The vast majority of songs were composed by Polish Jews and its uniqueness came from the combination of Slavic and Jewish elements mixed with Argentinian musical influences. Tango hits were written in Polish and Yiddish.

“Yiddish Tango” was performed in prestigious venues in Israel to Poland. Olga’s concerts often feature special guest singers and musicians, such as legendary singer Slawa Przybylska, famous singer from Israel Alexander Fisz, and leading Israeli musicians including clarinet player Ittai Binnun and acclaimed jazz pianist from Toronto Ron Davis.

Tango Attack is the modern tango band draws the inspiration from both the world’s traditional and avant-garde Argentine tango. The band skillfully explores and adopts all musical trends associated with tango. Their repertoire includes classical tango in new arrangements, tango covers of popular songs and original composition.

The group, formed in 2015, performs regularly with orchestras from all over Poland, including AUKSO Chamber Orchestra of the City of Tychy, Elblag Chamber Orchestra, NFM Orchestra in Wroclaw, Chamber Orchestra in Nowy Sacz, Sinfonietta Cracovia and Silesian Chamber Orchestra, performing symphonic and chamber concerts.

Grzegorz Bozewicz: bandoneon and accordion
Piotr Malicki: acoustic and electric guitars
Hadrian Filip Tabecki: piano and music arrangements

Hadrian Tabecki: Piano
Hadrian is a composer, arranger, and pianist from Warsaw. He has composed music for films (“Lejdis” dir. by Tomasz Konecki, among others), theatre plays (for Yidishpil Tel Aviv and the Jewish Theatre in Warsaw, etc.). He composes music to poems and texts by Wojciech Mlynarski, Wislawa Szymborska, Jan Twardowski and others.

He is the author of the “Cantata – Song of the World” oratorio with the lyrics from the Old Testament. As a pianist, he is a member of the Tangata Quintet ensemble which specializes in musical interpretations of Argentine tango. He has numerous recordings for radio and television to his credit and has won many awards for his artistic output.

Grzegorz Bozewicz: Bandoneon
One of the few bandoneon virtuosos in Poland, also an accordionist, pianist, composer, and teacher. Talented and versatile artist, co-founder and member of numerous projects: Barrio Loco, Tangodirection, and Olympos, among many others. Much appreciated interpreter of Argentine, Greek, Irish, French, as well as Baroque and contemporary music genres. He graduated from the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music.

He performs solo concerts, playing mainly chamber music, but also accompanied by orchestras and choirs on various stages, including the Opera House and Philharmonic Hall of Podlasie, the Witold Lutoslawski Concert Studio of Polish Radio and the National Philharmonic in Warsaw.

Piotr Malicki: Guitar
Piotr plays classical and electric guitar. He collaborates with various musicians and plays mainly in chamber ensembles, performing stylistically diverse music. Several years ago, he fell in love with tango. That music, imbued with a certain attitude, a certain state of mind, became his lifestyle and his way of thinking. As a member of the Tangata Quintet, he has recorded the album entitled “Tango – my love”.

The concerts are presented by JCC Staten Island, Kennedy Center, JCC Manhattan and Momentum Artists in partnership with the Polish Cultural Institute New York. The concert at Kennedy Center presented in partnership with the Polish Cultural Institute New York and the Embassy of the Republic of Poland.


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