About Yale Strom
Yale Strom (violin, composer, filmmaker, writer, photographer, playwright) is a pioneer among revivalists in conducting extensive field research in Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans among the Jewish and Roma communities. Initially, his work focused primarily on the use and performance of klezmer music among these two groups. Gradually, his focus increased to examining all aspects of their culture, from post-World War II to the present. From more than 3 decades and 75 such research expeditions, Strom has become the world’s leading ethnographer-artist of klezmer music and history.
His klezmer research was instrumental in helping form the repertoires of his klezmer band, Hot Pstromi in New York and San Diego. Since Strom’s first band began in 1982, he has been composing his own New Jewish music, which combines klezmer with Khasidic nigunim, Roma, jazz, classical, Balkan and Sephardic motifs. These compositions range from quartets to a symphony, which premiered with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. He composed original music for the Denver Center production of Tony Kushner's The Dybbuk. He composed all the New Jewish music for the National Public Radio series Fiddlers, Philosophers & Fools: Jewish Short Stories from the Old World to the New, hosted by Leonard Nimoy, as well as numerous film and dance scores. Some of his Jewish “classical” pieces he has composed are his string quartet “In The Memory Of…” based upon lost cantorial music Strom found in an abandoned synagogue in Carei, Romania and his solo violin piece “Bessarabia Suite” he composed for violin virtuoso Rachel Barton Pine. Strom is also one of the only top composers of Jewish music to carry on the tradition of writing original songs, with Yiddish lyrics, about humanitarian and social issues. His fifteen CDs run the gamut of traditional klezmer to "new" Jewish music. Some of his Cds are: “Borsht with Bread Borthers” (Arc Music), “Absolute Klezmer Vol. 2” (Transcontinental Music) “The Devil’s Brides (Arc Music) and the newest Cd “The City of the Future: Yiddish Sing from the Former Soviet Union (ARC Music) Strom has performed with many world renowned musicians including Andy Statman, Mark Dresser, Marty Ehrlich, Mark O’Connor, Lulo Reinhardt, Alicia Svigals, Mike Block, Salman Ahmad, Samir Chattergee, Rachel Barton Pine, Sarah Caswell, Greg Wall, David Buchbinder, Jeremy Kittel, et al.
Yale Strom was the first klezmer musician to perform at the United Nations General Assembly. Strom's research has also resulted in photo documentary books, documentary films, as well as CD recordings. He is the author of The Book of Klezmer: The History, The Music, The Folklore ( 2002)" is a 400 page history with original photos and sheet music gathered by Strom during his sixty-plus ethnographic trips to Central and Eastern Europe. A Wandering Feast: A Journey through the Jewish Culture of Eastern Europe written in collaboration with his wife, Elizabeth Schwartz, is part cookbook, part travelogue (2005). He is also the author of The Absolutely Complete Klezmer Songbook (2006). His photo-documentary books for middle-grade and young readers have received rave reviews and his first children's book based upon a true klezmer story The Wedding That Saved A Town was published in September 2008 and was chosen as “Best Children’s Illustrated Book” by the San Diego Book Association 2009. He wrote the first biography on the “Benny Goodman of klezmer clarinet “Dave Tarras: The King of Klezmer (2011) and his instructional book SHPIL! The Art of Playing Klezmer (2014).
He has directed nine award-winning documentary films (At the Crossroads, The Last Klezmer, and Carpati: 50 miles, 50 Years. L'Chaim Comrade Stalin!, Klezmer on Fish Street, A Man From Munkacs: Gypsy Klezmer, A Great Day on Eldridge Street, A Letter to Wedgwood: The Life of Gabriella Hartstein Auspitz) and his most recent American Socialist: The Life and Times of Eugene Victor Debs. He has composed music for countless others. He was the first documentary filmmaker in history to be given his own run at Lincoln Center's prestigious Walter Reade Theatre, where The Last Klezmer broke previous box office records; this record was only exceeded by Carpati's run there. The Last Klezmer was short-listed for an Academy Award nomination, Klezmer on Fish Street won the 2003 Palm Beach International Film festival’s Special Jury Selection award and American Socialist won the 2017 Audience Choice Best Film award at the Workers United Film Festival in NYC.
His solo photo exhibit The Rom of Ridgewood, about Gypsy communities in Queens, New York, was mounted at the Queens Museum of Art; Fragments: Jewish Life in Eastern Europe 1981-2007 opened at the Anne Frank Center in NYC (fall 2014) and traveled to UCLA and San Diego. He has had numerous solo and group photo exhibits (depicting Jewish and Roma life) throughout the U.S. and Europe. His photos are part of many collections including Beth Hatefusoth, The Skirball Museum, The Jewish Museum of NYC, The Frankfurt Jewish Museum and The Museum of Photographic Arts.
Strom was the guest curator for the Eldridge Street Project's A Great Day on Eldridge Street-- a musical and photographic celebration of the newly restored Eldridge Street Synagogue that took place in October 12-14, 2007. A Great Day on Eldridge Street is now an iconic photo of capturing some of the greatest Yiddish singers and klezmer musicians ever gathered in one spot.
Strom 's original stage play . . . from man. . . to beast... to crawling thing, was given a fully-staged workshop in June of 2001 by the Streisand Festival (La Jolla, California). His play The Education of Hershl Grynszpan was workshopped by the San Diego Rep, North Coast Rep as well as in New York City, Connecticut and Los Angeles. Yale was featured in the May 31, 2004 issue of Time Magazine for this play, and the scholarship behind it. Strom's newest theatrical project is a musical about the life of the artist Chagall.
Strom has lectured extensively throughout the United States and Europe and taught at NYU for the 4 years, where he created the course “Artist-Ethnographer Expeditions”. At present he is Artist-in-Residence and professor in the Jewish Studies Program at San Diego State University.
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