Jewish gospel singer Joshua Nelson belts one out during a new Hanukka concert airing on PBS.
Photo courtesy WLIW21
November 27, 2008
It can be quite invigorating to hear new renditions of the songs you’ve heard since childhood. It jolts you out of the same old, same old.
Lights! Celebrate Hanukkah Live in Concert does the trick for the music of the Festival of Lights.
The holiday melodies are performed with an appropriate mix of joviality and solemnity by an eclectic group of performers in the production, which was taped before a live audience in August at the Japan Theater in Los Angeles. It airs on WLIW21 on Wednesday, Dec. 3, at 8 p.m., preceded by a segment of Visions of Israel at 7:30. An encore broadcast on Sunday, Dec. 7, at 5:30 p.m. is part of the station’s Jewish Heritage Celebration.
New Jersey is well represented in Lights! East Orange’s own Jewish gospel master, Joshua “The Prince” Nelson, accompanied by a back-up quintet, puts a hand-clapping spin on “I Have a Little Dreidel” and “Hinei Ma Tov.”
Singer/songwriter Michelle Citrin, a native of Fair Lawn, tones it down a notch for her sweet interpretation of Peter Yarrow’s “Light One Candle.”
Emmy Award-winner Mare Winningham, who converted to Judaism in 2006 and recently performed a solo concert at B’nai Shalom in West Orange, tells her story through “A Convert Jig.” The Klezmatics bring their Grammy-winning high energy to “Hanukah Gelt” (written by Woody Guthrie), “Ale Brider,” and “Hanukah’s Flame,” while Cantor Alberto Mizrahi — a.k.a. “the Jewish Pavarotti” — goes the Ladino route with “Ocho Kandelikas.”
Craig Taubman, the de facto host, performs a number of songs, including his original composition “Sheheheyanu” with his sister, Cantor Caren Glasser, as well as “Holy Ground” and “Ma’oz Tzur” with Laurence Juber, another Grammy winner.
Rabbi David Wolpe adds to the proceedings with mini-drashes about the significance of Hanukka throughout the program.
A couple of odd notes: There is a distinct lack of children in the audience, which seems odd for a concert for this particular holiday. And saxman Dave Koz’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is out of the theme. The producers consider it “a song about hope, and a potential new Hanukka classic,” but that seems like a stretch.
For a preview of the concert, visit www.wliw.org/Hanukkah. A DVD and CD with bonus songs and interviews will be available from WLIW21 in time for holiday delivery.