Klezmer Celebration Transcends Cultural Boundaries 

While Denver maintains its glory as a hub for local music, one event takes the cake for community performances. 

Festo Festo is a monthly Klezmer and Balkan music concert and community jam session. Festo Festo first started in early 2020 and only took place three times before COVID stopped it in its tracks. After a couple of years operating as a passion project of dedicated musicians, Festo Festo recently joined the JCC programming. The monthly Festo Festo includes regular performances by house bands, Gora Gora Orkestar and Upsherin with a guest performer joining each month. 

The sold-out event on October 28, which took place in the JCC Social Hall, featured a guest performance and community dance lesson by Balkanika Folk Dance Group, and welcomed over 150 music aficionados and first-time listeners alike. The enthusiasm was palpable as attendees bopped to the beat, danced in big, room-sized circles, and jumped out of their seats with pure joy.

Attendees from every walk and stage of life filled the room to intermingle at this intergenerational jam, including infants, young children, teens, adults, and seniors. The Festo Festo program, which hopes to inspire new sounds and intercultural collaboration, runs the last Thursday of every month at locations that include Mercury Café, Africana Café, and most recently, Staenberg-Loup JCC.  

After a somber opening number dedicated to Peace and some unifying words, the energy quickly picked up with a cover of “Shir LaShalom.” Celebrating great music and dance while learning about Jewish and Eastern European cultures seemed to touch many souls while encompassing what the JCC is all about.  

Luisa of Challahrado Hearth, sold light bites of homemade pretzels, potato knishes, and hamantaschen, for party goers to enjoy.

October’s Festo Festo program was truly a testament to the transcending power of music in bringing people together. Along with Festo Festo, JCC Denver is proud to be working with a dedicated group of volunteers to hold the first-ever weekend-long Klezmer festival in May 2024: KlezKolorado. KlezKolorado will include local and national Klezmer acts, Yiddish culture, workshops, and more! Head to the KlezKolorado page on the JCC’s website to learn more.  

The next Festo Festo events are taking place on November 30 and December 31 (New Years Eve!) at the Mercury Café. Keep an eye out for registration in the coming weeks. You can also subscribe to KlezKolorado’s mailing list to stay up to date on all things music at the JCC.  We hope that Festo Festo and KlezKolorado continue to provide a gathering space to bring us all together through music.