December 13, 2018

Afro-Semitic Experience to Perform in Chester Today at 5 p.m.

Afro Semitic Experience by Fletcher Oakes April 2014

Photo courtesy of Fletcher Oakes (April 2014)

CHESTER — For 18 years, the Afro-American Experience has delighted audiences throughout the U.S. with their unique blend that prominent critic, Ramos, calls as “a whoopin’, hollerin’, testifyin’ celebration of multicultural soul music.” Their music reflects peace and joyous diversity. It is the same music that the great jazz critic Nat Hentoff referred to thus, “Never before have I heard this lyrically powerful fusion of Jewish and jazz souls on fire.” This music is coming to Chester during the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. birthday weekend.

The group opens the eighth — and most ambitious season yet — of Music & More at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) on Sunday, Jan. 17, at 5 p.m.  The season also features, among other groups, the internationally renowned Paul Winter Consort.

David Zeleznik, the new producer of the series, wanted to build on the synagogue’s record of creating special concerts that showcase diversity during the congregation’s annual commemoration of Dr. King’s birth.

As he explains it, “Last season, we had enormous success with Sweet Honey in the Rock. Their powerful soaring voices raised the roof and transported the river valley and shoreline community to their transcendent vision of a brighter future. For this season we wanted to recreate that sense of healing, grace, and inclusiveness within our sacred space through the power of musical performance.

“When we started planning this season back in June 2015, little did we know of the divisive tone that would now pervade our social and political discourse. Afro-Semitic Experience, which has recorded popular eight albums that speak to diversity, provides an antidote by showing how folk music of disparate cultures can meld and blend to joyous effect.

“That this is the group’s 18th year of existence is also meaningful at such a time.  The number 18, or ‘chai’ (in Hebrew) has special significance meaning ‘life’ in Judaic tradition. So, this is Afro-Semitic Experience’s ‘chai year’ and they are back to the beginning, celebrating the life of Martin Luther King with us.”

Zeleznik has also engaged the group to participate in the “More” part of Music & More. Prior to their performance they will be engaging with the community’s youth in a series of musical and performance workshops.

As customary at Music & More events, a reception follows, which is included in the ticket price.

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester.  To reserve tickets ($25 for adults, and no charge for children under 16) or a spot in the workshop, or for more information about the upcoming season (which also includes Caravan of Thieves, The Paul Winter Consort, and The String of Pearls Big Band), contact the CBSRZ office at 860-526-8920 or bethshalom@snet.net or visit our website at cbsrz.org.

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