Music festival promoting diversity

Simone Baron will debut a new work at the Washington Jewish Music Festival
Photo courtesy of Simone Baron

In its 19th year, the annual Washington Jewish Music Festival continues to promote diversity, according to festival Director Ilya Tovbis.

The festival runs from Nov. 3 to 12, with 17 performances taking place at venues that include the Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center, the Music Center at Strathmore and the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center, the festival’s organizer.

The festival will open with a performance by the Israeli music and dance group Tararam. It will close with the Canadian band Nomadica, which Tovbis describes as a “mix of soulful and celebratory music,” fusing the Arab, Roma and Jewish cultures.

In addition, Mais Hriesh and Tal First from the Polyphony Foundation will perform for the festival’s annual Day of Education on Arab Citizens of Israel on Nov. 5. The foundation works to “build a more shared society in Israel,” by allowing Jewish and Arab students to create music together, said Tovbis. A discussion will follow.

Another highlight will come on Nov. 11 when pianist and accordionist Simone Baron and Juno Award-winning trumpeter David Buchbinder perform together for the first time. The festival website describes the performance as “one not to be missed, drawing from sources such as cartoon music, jazz, the poetry of Irving Layton, Cuban influences” and more.

While Tovbis brings in musicians from all over the world, this year’s lineup will include a good deal of local talent.

“I’m very proud that we’ve increasingly made headway into promoting not just international musicians, but really doubling down on local connections,” he explained. “We’re really finding who is making the most creative, exciting, innovative music in the Jewish space in Washington, D.C.”

Events include:

Tararam (Opening Night): Nov. 2, 7:30 p.m.

“Hours of Freedom: The Story of Terezin Composer,” Nov. 4, 8 p.m.

Mais Hriesh and Tal First: Day of Education on Arab Citizens of Israel, Nov. 5, 3 p.m.

Buchbinder and Baron: World Premiere, Nov. 11, 7:30 p.m.

Nomadica (Closing Night): Nov. 12, 7:30 p.m. n

For information and tickets, go to

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