08.29.16CD Review: Russian Jewish Classics Vols. 1 and 2 (The Whole Note)

With the limited space available, it’s not possible to do justice to the impressive breadth and depth of the music presented on each CD. Clearly, though, Zelkowicz’s assemblage of accomplished musicians (all members of esteemed orchestras and university music departments, who performed the music both live at the PJMF and in the studio recordings), executes this haunting, evocative, melodic, joyous, plaintive, gorgeous and freilach music with tremendous passion and intelligence. From Guenko Guechev and Daniella Rabbani’s dramatic recitations in Zeitlin’s unique “declamations" – affecting piano music underscoring spoken Yiddish and Russian poetry (once a popular genre) – and mezzo Rachel Calloway’s glorious interpretations of several of his Yiddish songs in various arrangements, to the masterful performances, by the musicians of the PJMF, of the rhapsodic and sophisticated chamber works of Stutschewsky, these CDs represent a wealth of material that demands renewed exploration and attention, attention it once commanded, briefly, in a bygone age.

I look forward to the rest of the series, and say “Bravo" and “Mazel Tov" to Zelkowicz, the PJMF and Toccata Classics.


04.26.16Preview: Tiferet Bet concert honors Holocaust victims

The May 4 program was designed by cellist Aron Zelkowicz during his years at the helm of the Pittsburgh Jewish Musical Festival. Shammash “fell in love with it as a whole" when she appeared at the 2014 festival and urged TBI members to reprise it locally.


04.15.16CD Review: Russian Jewish Classics Vol. 2 (Musicweb International)

The performers on this disc are wonderfully suited to this repertoire and impart their obvious admiration and enjoyment of the music. This communicates to the listener making for a truly pleasurable and rewarding experience. Aron Zelkowicz is to be singled out for especial praise for masterminding the project and assembling such able colleagues to bring this music to life. Life is what is abundantly on show here in all its joyful as well as its sad and reflective moods. A great achievement all round.


08.31.15CD Review: Russian Jewish Classics Vol. 1 (Musicweb International)

All the musicians involved in this project have done Leo Zeitlin a great service in bringing this neglected composer to the public’s notice. They and Toccata deserve many congratulations.


12.08.13Britten Blog #5

11.21.13Britten Blog #4

11.12.13Britten Blog #1

11.12.13Brtitten Blog #2

11.12.13Britten Blog #3

04.30.13On Stage: Celebrating the Spirit — The Dybbuk

"Although Kelsey Bartman and Alan Obuzor had a lovely duet, the dancers, who usually perform in a contemporary style, wisely adhered to the dramatic overtones under Mr. Zelkowicz’ direction. It was a fine first effort from the cellist and Festival administrator and certainly a significant way to celebrate the organization’s decade-long commitment to artistic excellence."

04.26.13Review: 'The Dybbuk' brings spirited performance to PSO festival

"Aron Zelkowicz, a cellist and founding director of the Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival, made a very impressive debut as an opera director. He marshaled the many performers with a sure hand from start to finish, and made fine and full use of the space in the New Hazlett Theater on the North Side."

12.03.12Tour of Duty, Tour of Pleasure

A postcard from Vienna:

By the time the Danube winds into concrete beds through Stadtpark, the water is just a trickle. Children in their parkas swing on the playground, the U-bahn train pulls into its station, and people stroll or bike over the canal’s bridges, all within a stone’s throw of the surface. This view from our hotel is lovely and quaint, for those of us on tour with the Pittsburgh Symphony that have north-facing rooms (those with opposite views can peer down on the bustling skating rink next door).

Read more:

01.17.12The Rehearsal Mine Field (Behind the Scenes of a Music Festival Part 3)

Quartet rehearsal, 10 am! Which means you show up at 10:04, but then decide to make a quick Starbucks run with the second violinist because the violist is parking his car anyway and seriously, who can be expected to tackle Shostakovich at 10am without their Grande Vanilla Double Soy Macchiato?


09.29.11Devil in the Details (Behind the Scenes of a Music Festival, Part 2)

According to their blog, Audio-Technica’s acclaimed Artist Elite 5000 Series UHF Wireless System with an AEW-T4100 Cardioid Dynamic Handheld Transmitter was the microphone of choice for Taylor Swift’s “Fearless" concert tour (“It really sounds like her!"). Of course, all systems use the AEW-R5200 True Diversity Frequency-Agile Dual Receiver.

Thank goodness all we have to do is walk on stage with our cello, find a hole in the floor, and play. When compared with such high-tech riders, organizing an acoustic recital is low maintenance, right? Right?!


08.12.11Notes from the Field: 12 Cellos are Better than 1

I wanted to take a break from behind-the-scenes administrative reporting to share a recent concert experience that might be of interest to those who like to “geek out" about all things cello-related.

It might have been Sarah Jessica Parker’s character in Sex and the City (not that I ever watched the show…) who noted that one of the best things about living in New York City is getting out of it once in a while. So on a scorching July weekend it was invigorating to drive well beyond the numbered streets and convene with eleven other cellists in the town of Hunter, New York – home to some of the highest peaks in the Catskill Mountains. The simplicity of this village and nearby Tannersville was a quaint contrast to Manhattan. The Catskills Mountain Foundation that sponsored the concert efficiently keeps a café, bookstore, and craft shop together in one building. Opposite Main Street, the concert hall shares space with a cinema and an antique piano gallery, so one could conceivably buy Twizzlers before the cello concert or try an 1826 Tischner Grand Fortepiano on the way out of the latest Harry Potter film.


07.16.11The Vision Thing (Behind the Scenes of a Music Festival, Part 1)

By self-imposed annual tradition, recent weeks have been crunch time, when a year’s worth of planning comes to fruition. My pet project, the Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival, held sway in early June where, for the past several years, it has settled in the form of four concerts. I thought it might serve as a useful case study to explore various behind-the-scenes topics.

This is the season when myriad music festivals around the country are in full bloom. What is the take-away experience from any one of these that makes it unique? Even traditional chamber music festivals have their own trademark DNA that set them apart, from big issues (BUDGET, LOCATION) to small (I’m playing in a festival this summer that offers a cookbook featuring the players’ signature recipes – cool!). Festival X offers a mix of Beethoven and Bartok performed by teachers who are in residence for three weeks. Residents and tourists alike attend these concerts as the Festival’s students are seated cozily in the balcony. The venue’s glass panes reveal a mountain view during sunset, lemonade is sold during intermission, local businesses advertise in the program book, and Mozart the Mascot works the reception in his ruffles and wig. That is a vision. Without “the vision thing" it is more difficult to bring people on board.


06.22.11Review: Jewish Music Fest performances continue to amaze

Monday night at Rodef Shalom Congregation, festival founder Aron Zelkowicz yet again offered an intriguing program featuring the music of Solomon Rosowsky, a Russian-Jewish composer active in the first half of the 20th century.

Mr. Zelkowicz... offered a potent work for cello and piano, "Rhapsodie," that could have been unaccompanied. He is the primary substitute for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's cello section and it is easy to see why -- Mr. Zelkowicz is a rare combination of blistering technique and unhindered emotion.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11159/1151998-388.stm#ixzz1Pykbho9t

06.07.11Review: Inspired performances highlight Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival concert Read more: Review: Inspired performances highlight Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival concert - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/ae/more/s_740819.html#ixzz1Pyjpn2b1

Series founder and director Aron Zelkowicz played two virtuoso pieces by Rosowksy, both with striking technical command and emotional focus. His big, rich tone at the start of the Rhapsodie was individual but also made me think of great cellists of the past.

Read more: Review: Inspired performances highlight Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival concert - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/ae/more/s_740819.html#ixzz1PyjvCx70

05.11.11"The F-Word" - my first blog post for www.cellobello.com !

“Do you play with a regular ensemble?" the lady at Kinko’s asked me.

Lately I’ve noticed this to be one of the routine first questions that new acquaintances throw my way, especially in New York. My theory is that music aficionados latch on to this question, while novices (often in airports, as we can all testify) tend to focus on the size of the cello case and the hilarity of imagining something else inside it: an AK-47, King Kong’s tennis racket, mother. In this instance my cello was not with me, but the scraps of dissected scores scattered across the work station easily gave away my vocation.

She asked, “Do you play with a regular ensemble?", which is exactly the wording that gets me like a deer in headlights. The question is completely understandable and practical; if I had a pat answer I could have quickly satisfied her curiosity in terms of geography (Lincoln Center, Westchester, Brooklyn), genre (orchestra, Broadway, string quartet), and style (Baroque, avante-garde, Finnish metal cover songs). Ok, I get carried away – unfortunately, no one could mistake me for a Finnish rocker.


03.28.11The 2011 Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival is announced!

And the Festival has a brand new website!

01.15.11Trinity Church review, from a Korean blog as translated into "English" by Google!

Thursday, January 13, 2011
Trinity church

Music performances will be held here on Thursday.
(Bi-weekly 1:00-2:00 p.m Suggested donation: $ 5)

Free or inexpensive places to enjoy the show

New York, you look a lot of suspense

Noticed through the Web search harder,

Salley Koo, Violin; Aron Zelkowicz, Cello; Vanessa Fadial, Piano
This website provides a description of a player is.

I know who they are, and the song is played today mwoyeotneunjido
Do not know

Piano, violin, cello .. These instruments are played by
Called classical music, so that sounds good to me.

Today was particularly interesting to see a cellist.
Well, listen to the cello, was well aware of the usual novelties,

In addition, strong sound of piano and violin, or more compelling
May seem stable, followed by the sound of the cello playing of all
Could be heard and to be supported.

In addition, the cellist played his appearance seemed to do the best.

Show held at the church because,
One to go the bathroom, came back later the person who makes noise,
Crashing sound of the keys, walk the clothes fricative sounds, etc.

Playing only the environment was not only able to concentrate.
But it played without regard to the musicians.

Rather, I care little geoseulryeotji,
They do the best of shape, they hear the music that looks good.

Suggested donation: $ 5 he went to get ready,
Recipients, and the one who pay me, so I pass:)
As a classical concert in a long time and feel good by listening to free good day

27 one yen Alexandria Le, Piano is the performance.
Expect already:)

01.14.11Lucid Culture's Review of Trinity Church recital with Salley Koo and Vanessa Fadial

Vanessa Fadial, Aron Zelkowicz and Salley Koo Make an Auspicious Trio
Thursday at Trinity Church was the first time that pianist Vanessa Fadial, cellist Aron Zelkowicz and violinist Salley Koo had performed together. They should do this more often: they complement each other well. Their one piece together as a trio was Ravel’s Piano Trio in A Minor, a four-part suite. Fadial’s affectingly shimmery cantabile gave Koo the perfect launching pad for her vividly searching, soaring lines while Zelkowicz mined its myriad dynamic shifts for all they were worth. Throughout the brightness of the first movement, the brisk counterpoint of the second, the serioso intensity of the third and whirling bustle of the conclusion, they played with a singleminded seamlessness that spanned from brooding to downright joyous.

Fadial and Zelkowicz had opened the program with a lively, inspired version of another suite, De Falla’s Suite Populaire Espagnole, a series of frequently intense flamenco-tinged themes, including a couple of stately waltzes (one with a macabre marionette feel) and a plaintive lullaby. Zelkowicz followed that, playing from memory, with a solo arrangement of the Chaconne from Bach’s Partita No. 2 (BWV 1004). The piece is almost three hundred years old, yet was as transcendent to listen to as it must have been when it was written. Zelkowicz dug in and gave it a mighty gravitas: in his hands, it was more of a requiem than a courtly dance. When it came to the long, absolutely riveting series of eight-note broken chords about two-thirds of the way through, he pulled back just a little and let the seemingly endlessly shapeshifting series of rivulets go on their own to paint a picture that lit up the bleakness with incredible poignancy. Tony Tommasini’s consideration of Bach this past Sunday for his ongoing “top 10 classical composers of all time" pantheon in the Times couldn’t have made more sense than it did at that moment.