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Arts & Extras: Kandinsky Trio kicks off new Jewish music series

Arts & Extras: Kandinsky Trio kicks off new Jewish music series

Kandinsky Trio in rehearsal

Violinist Benedict Goodfriend, pianist Elizabeth Bachelder and cellist Alan Weinstein, aka The Kandinsky Trio, rehearse in Bachelder’s Roanoke County home.

If the Kandinsky Trio had a tent city that followed them from concert to concert like the fans of famous jam bands — The Grateful Dead, for instance, or Phish — those followers would log a lot of miles over the next few days.

“We have a crazy schedule,” said Benedict Goodfriend, the Salem-based chamber music trio’s violinist.

On Sunday, the trio will play the inaugural concert of the newly created Roanoke Jewish Music Concert Series at Beth Israel Synagogue in southwest Roanoke.

On Wednesday, the trio will take the stage at Arete Venue and Gallery in Brooklyn as part of a collaboration with Virginia Tech professor and Guggenheim Fellowship winner Eric Lyon.

Then on March 16, they will be back in Salem for the final concert of their 2018-19 season, titled “Wonders of the Classical Age.”

At Sunday’s concert, the trio will perform Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Piano Trio No. 2 in E Minor,” a composition written in 1944 that reacts to horrors suffered by Jews during World War II.

“Some people at the synagogue had the idea that they wanted to bring the Trio to do a concert basically talking about Jewish music,” Goodfriend said. “In this process it really hit home to me how varied Jewish influence has been on music, in fact all the arts. The more we thought about it, we tried to bring in things other than classical, like jazz and that kind of thing but we could only really scratch the surface. That’s when I got the idea to have a series that brings in major performances that basically celebrate the Jewish influences.”

He pitched the idea to Lori Strauss, events chairperson of the Roanoke Jewish Federation, which has taken the series under its umbrella.

“The intention of this is not to be just an event of one organization, but really the entire Jewish community,” Goodfriend said.

“And the wider community,” Strauss added. The series has received a grant from the Sam and Marion Golden Helping Hand Foundation in Roanoke, she said.

The federation has worked with Roanoke Valley arts organizations over the past several years to put on Jewish-themed events. “We’ve worked with the Grandin. We’ve worked with the symphony. We’ve worked with Mill Mountain Theatre,” Strauss said. “What Bendy is offering is a consistent conduit to a wider variety,” involving nationally known artists. “We’re really going to try to do arts and music.”

Strauss ran the committee that organized the first Roanoke Jewish Food Festival in 2017. “It’s really awesome, just like with the food festival, how the surrounding community responds to cultural things,” she said.

“We’re also going to incorporate some other kinds of events into it,” Goodfriend said, “with sort of the same philosophy, bringing people to Roanoke that the audiences here wouldn’t get a chance to hear.”

The next event in the series takes place April 23 at the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, with a screening of “Big Sonia,” a documentary about a Holocaust survivor who runs a tailoring shop in Kansas City, her diminutive height made up for by her outsize personality. Admission will be $10.

The next concert in the series will be a June 16 performance at Beth Israel Synagogue by Hankus Netsky, whom Goodfriend described as “possibly the pioneer of the Klezmer revival.” In 1980, Netsky founded the Klezmer Conservatory Band, credited with sparking new interest from American audiences in this Jewish musical tradition that has its origins in Eastern Europe. Netsky has collaborated with violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman.

General admission to the music concerts is $18, which Strauss said makes reference to the Hebrew word “chai,” which means life, and is associated with the number 18. For example, because of that association, it’s traditional to give monetary gifts in multiples of 18 at bar mitzvahs, thus symbolically giving life.

For more information about the series, email

Charlottesville Cinderella

A familiar name in the Roanoke Valley ballet scene has worked magic with the Charlottesville Ballet to bring a new production of “Cinderella” to the stage.

Pedro Szalay, artistic director of Southwest Virginia Ballet, choreographed the show, in which children from Roanoke and Lynchburg will dance alongside the Charlottesville Ballet’s professional company.

“‘Cinderella’ is a production to be cherished by adults and children alike, as the magic and story captivate everyone,” Szalay said in a statement.

Performances happen Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. in Charlottesville’s Paramount Theater, and again March 16 at the Academy Center of the Arts in Lynchburg. For more information, call (434) 979-1333 or visit For more information on the Lynchburg performances, call (434) 846-8499 or visit

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