Jewish Children's Orchestra, 1935

Jewish Children’s Orchestra (1935), photo courtesy of Eric Stein


The Mandolin in Jewish Life (and Beyond)


Thursdays, October 7–28, 11:00 am–12:30 pm (PT)

About the Program

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, mandolin clubs and community orchestras were ubiquitous in Ashkenazi Jewish communities. Frequently associated with progressive social and political movements, the mandolin served a central role in music education at Jewish schools and provided one of the only outlets for pre-war Eastern European Jewish women to express themselves musically.

And though the instrument was rarely associated with the professional musical traditions of pre-war Jewish life, many Jewish mandolinists would eventually emerge among the most influential practitioners of the instrument, within a variety of different musical styles.

Explore this long-overlooked history through rare photographs, ephemera, and recordings from a number of Jewish mandolin legends. Together we’ll place the Jewish affinity for the instrument in the context of broader cultural trends.

Instructor: Eric Stein is a mandolinist, bassist, bandleader, artistic director, and producer from Toronto who has been a prominent figure in Canada’s folk and Jewish-roots music scenes for over twenty years. He is the founder of the innovative klezmer/balkan fusion group Beyond the Pale and leads the Brazilian choro ensemble Tio Chorinho. Stein is also a member of the international supergroup Ger Mandolin Orchestra and is the Artistic Director of Toronto’s Ashkenaz Festival, one of the world’s largest celebrations of global Jewish music and culture.

This class is presented in association with the Ashkenaz Foundation.

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