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November 10, 2013 at 7:30 pm

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Turkish roots and Jewish blues
“Fresh, inspired, funny, moving, and creative. The concoction of sounds, melodies, and techniques is startling, but the result is exhilarating.” - Rootsworld


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Philly's Balkan village band
“This one million-member Balkan folk music monster is the only band in Philadelphia that can make you dance till you drop using solely acoustic instruments. A horn section, percussion section, tuba, sax, traditional vocals – this is by far one of the most energetic acts in the city.” - Get Lucid

Crossroads welcomes back three musical groups to explore the connections between musics of Eastern Europe from the Baltic to the Bosphorus and beyond. Turkish singer and oud player İsmail Hakkı Fencioğlu and innovative klezmer band Shtreiml will perform a mostly Turkish set, highlighting some of the musical and historical relationships between Turkish and Eastern European music, while the West Philadelphia Orchestra, our neighborhood’s own village band, will contribute brass band music from the Balkans. We’ll finish up with a few klezmer tunes from all the musicians together – be prepared to dance!

İsmail Hakkı Fencioğlu & Shtreiml

The İsmail Hakkı Fencioğlu and Shtreiml collaborative began as a special project created for the 2004 Montreal Festival du Monde Arabe. Through the performance of both traditional and original compositions, in addition to instrumental and vocal improvisation, this new group explores the commonalities and differences between Eastern European Jewish music and classical Turkish music. The group’s repertoire, which ranges from the swirling Turkish sirto to the haunting Chassidic nign, is designed to sometimes accentuate and other times blur the distinction between the two forms of music. Ismail and Jason are joined by Rachel Lemisch (trombone), Thierry Arsenault (drums) and Adam Stotland (bass). Both Ismail and Shtreiml have performed internationally at theaters, private functions and festivals in Canada, U.S. and Europe.

Vocalist and oud player İsmail Hakkı Fencioğlu studied at the State Conservatory of Istanbul Technical University in the department of chant and specialized in the classical Turkish music singing techniques under Alaeddin Yavaşça, Bekir Sıdkı Sezgin and Tülin Yakarçelik. While still a student, he gave many performances on television, reaching vast audiences on the “Cassette Anthology” and “Unforgettable Composers” series as one of the members of the State Clasical Turkish Music Chorus which was conducted by Nevzat Atlı. He then worked as an arranger and composer in various recording studios. İsmail moved to Canada in 2001 and is presently conductor of Montreal Turkish Music Chorus and the Ottawa Turkish Music Chorus. In addition to working with Canadian artists Brenna MacCrimmon and Jason Rosenblatt and with his own band Marmara, İsmail performs regularly with his two choruses.

Founded in 2002, Montreal/Philly-based Shtreiml offers a high-octane mix of not-so-traditional Eastern-European Jewish and Turkish music. Led by harmonica innovator Jason Rosenblatt, protege of Harmonica master Howard Levy, and one of the few people worldwide who can play the diatonic harmonica (a.k.a. blues harp) chromatically, Shtreiml’s blues-rock infused set delivers a new look at some centuries old folk music. Joined by Rachel Lemisch (trombone), Thierry Arsenault (drums), and Adam Stotland (guitar,vocals,bass) the group’s set has been labeled “explosive” (Halifax Chronicle Herald) and “exhilarating” (Rootsworld).

West Philadelphia Orchestra

With a diverse line-up of professional Philadelphia musicians whose influences range from Sun Ra to Bulgarian brass bands, West Philadelphia Orchestra is a unique live ensemble in today’s auto-tuned musical world. They began playing Romanian ballads, Macedonian folk-dance songs, Bulgarian wedding music, and klezmer in late 2006, and have continued expanding their repertoire of Eastern European music. The band also plays original tunes which blend other sounds, like jazz and classical, together with traditional Balkan sounds. As much a community as a band, WPO’s performances are celebratory events. With blistering beats and walls of brass, they inspire audiences to hold hands, dance, and slip the yoke of the homogenized culture industry. Their debut record “WPO,” released in fall of 2008, is a unique combination of traditional Balkan music and sounds, and is an expression of their radical collectivity. Their newest CD, “Live at Tritone,” captures the frenetic energy, genre-bending compositions, and communal spirit of their monthly Balkan dance parties.

More Information

İsmail Hakkı Fencioğlu and Shtreiml
West Philadelphia Orchestra

Crossroads Music is in part supported by the Philadelphia Cultural Fund and the Samuel S. Fels Fund.

This project is supported by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency, through the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts (PPA), its regional arts funding partnership. State government funding for the arts depends upon an annual appropriation by the Pennsylvania General Assembly and from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. PPA is administered in this region by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.


Romano Drom's U.S. tour is made possible in part by the Trust for Mutual Understanding and presented in association with the Balassi Institute-Hungarian Cultural Center