Jewish Culture

On December 23, 2023, the Mizel Museum held the 12th Annual Klezfest, a vibrant holiday celebration with music from around the world, at the Mercury Cafe.

Experience the exuberance of Klezfest! Featuring the incomparable Hal Aqua and the Lost Tribe, Rabbi Joe Black with Sandra Wong, and MishMish.

Hal Aqua and The Lost Tribe

Hal Aqua and The Lost Tribe play Klezmer and Yiddish fusion music — an exuberant musical experience, rooted firmly in traditional Jewish modes and melodies and driven by contemporary rhythms and danceable grooves. The Lost Tribe are: Hal Aqua (vocals, guitar, octave mandolin), Annie Aqua (violin, vocals), Ben Cohen (electric bass, accordion, vocals), Michael Paff (drums, percussion), and Miriam Rosenblum (clarinet, tin whistle).

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Rabbi Joe Black

Rabbi Joe Black is a pioneer of Jewish Contemporary music. He has performed for congregations and communities around the world. His recordings and books have received accolades from sources as diverse as The New York Times, Haddasah Magazine, Parent’s ChoiceThe American Library Journal, and Kids First: The Coalition for Quality Children’s Video. 

He is a two-time winner of American Songwriter Magazine’s Lyric contest. He has also published two children’s books for the PJ Library, a songbook, and recorded five critically acclaimed albums of Jewish music. His compositions have been recorded by numerous artists and he and his music are featured in a variety of Contemporary Jewish Music compilation CD’s. His poetry and prose have been published widely. He recently published There Once Was A Man From Canaan: The Five Books of Limerick – a collection of limericks for every Torah portion. As a musician, Joe is known for his guitar virtuosity, soaring voice and lyrics that are at the same time funny, inspirational, and thought-provoking. His music is an extension of his Rabbinate. This past December, after an 18 year hiatus, Joe began recording his fifth album of original music. He serves as Senior Rabbi at Temple Emanuel in Denver, CO, a position he has held since 2011.

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Sandra Wong

Violinist and nyckelharpist Sandra Wong has toured nationally and internationally as a solo artist and in numerous musical collaborations. Her current projects include “Kaleidoscope” with Ty Burhoe and Bill Douglas; “Wild Earth Ensemble” with Victor Mestas, Beth Quist, Jon Sousa and Joy Adams; a duo with guitarist Jon Sousa; a trio with Rebecca Folsom and Tom Wasinger; a duo with Anne Marie Morgan; and collaborations with a wide breadth of musicians working with diverse genres of music. Sandra creates and personally facilitates musical study trips to different countries leading people into the heart of individual folk cultures through the music and dance of each country. She strives to nurture a deep love of music and the arts in both children and adults.

Sandra has won or been a finalist in numerous fiddle competitions and has been a featured soloist both as a classical violinist and fiddler. Her playing can be heard on recordings from Sounds True to Ken Burns documentaries, and an impressively diverse range of albums from renowned Tibetan musician Nawang Khechog to Flamenco, Norwegian lullaby, Kirtan, Classical, Folk, Americana, and the list goes on. She has been covered in publications from the New York Times to International Musician Magazine.  Her stages have ranged from Caramoor to natural amphitheaters in the Grand Canyon where she delights equally in playing for all beings.

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Blending ancient Eastern melody with western influence and Latin rhythm, MishMish brings an electrifying Balkan-Arab fusion to Colorado. Their members bring together musical backgrounds in Klezmer, Middle Eastern, Balkan, and samba to weave together a groove-heavy sound that will make you want to get out of your seat and dance. Through new compositions and their own takes on classic melodies and folk tunes, MishMish will guide the audience on a mesmerizing journey through the Balkan region and beyond.

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