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A group of people, arm-in-arm, dancing to Klez music.

KlezKolorado

When: May 17 – 19, 2024

Where: JCC Ranch Camp, Elbert, CO

Who: Anyone who loves Klezmer Music!

KlezKolorado is a weekend-long Klezmer festival that centers local and national Klezmer acts, Yiddish culture, workshops, and Colorado’s Jewish community. We want to highlight the burgeoning Klezmer revival in Denver, Boulder, and beyond, and create a new space for Yiddishists to gather and celebrate our culture. We are a queer-led and queer-focused group that would like to welcome folks of all backgrounds to come and join in the fun.

KlezKolorado will be structured primarily as a retreat, inviting participants to join us for a long weekend (May 17-19, 2024) full of concerts, workshops, community meals and fun nature-based activities. Guests can also choose to exclusively come for the Klezmer concerts on that Friday and/or Saturday. The festival will be held at the JCC’s beautiful Ranch Camp, situated conveniently between Denver and Colorado Springs. Guests who are attending for the full weekend will be provided with cabin-style accommodations, meals and snacks (including a special Shabbos dinner), and full access to all activities throughout the weekend.

Artist Line-up

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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 versatile musicians who make up the band have a deep respect for their source material, from the evocative tunes of Eastern European Jews and Roma to the sinuous rhythms of the Middle East and Mediterranean. Their songs draw equally from the Yiddish tradition of social action, the spiritual fervor of Chasidic music, and the get-off-your-butt-and-dance party vibe of a Jewish wedding.

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Dot Levine

Dot Rose has been breaking hearts and blowing minds for decades. Her deft multi-instrumentalism, the controlled entropy of her vocals, and her thoughtful, clever arranging and composition make her a scarcely witnessed expressive force, cutting elegantly through the din.

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Mish Mish

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.

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Kleztronica presents Diva Nigun and Chaia

Diva Nigun is a Jewish music producer and performer, specializing in electronic Jewish dance music, remixes, lo-fi, meditation, and everything in between! She combines queer expression, Yiddishkayt and Klezmer, the devotional scene, Jewish history and tradition, and modern pop production to create the bangers for which her Jewish communities long.

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Chaia, a New York-based electronic artist, blends archival Yiddish samples into dance beats, redefining Jewish diasporic identity through a new genre she calls “Kleztronica”. She’s been featured at music festivals across the globe (The NAMM Show, Shtetl Berlin, Yiddish New York) and profiled in NPR, The Forward, and The Jewish Week.

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Upsherin

Upsherin is a Klezmer band based in Denver, CO. Led by vocalists Eitan Kantor and Lily Gross, Upsherin brings joy and movement wherever they play. Whether you prefer Yiddish, Hebrew or Ladino, you are sure to find something to love about this band. Get ready to get groovy.

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Gora Gora Orkestar

Gora Gora Orkestar brings the sounds of the Old World to the Rocky Mountains performing high-energy Balkan and Klezmer music. Formed in 2009, this 11-piece brass band is dedicated to making the audience dance with driving rhythms and innovative approaches to the traditional music of Eastern Europe. Since its formation, Gora Gora has focused on learning this music with attention and authenticity, and its members have had the chance to learn from experts in the field at events such as Balkan Camp and KlezKanada.

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Judy Sweet

An accordionist, dancer, educator, and interdisciplinary community arts leader, Judy has been immersed in Yiddish dance and klezmer music since her first Klezkamp at age 7. She has studied extensively with Yiddish dance masters Steve Weintraub and Avia Moore, and regularly teaches and leads at weddings, workshops, and more across the east coast. Judy also co-leads the Baltimorim — a community klezmer project of Hinenu that offers classes, jams, and concerts in the Baltimore region — and co-curates the children’s program at Yiddish New York. Judy is a leading teaching artist and early childhood music consultant in the Baltimore region.

Festival Schedule

Friday, May 17

Time Event
5:45 – 6:00 PM  Official Welcome 

Safety briefing from Ranch Camp Staff 

6:00 – 7:00 PM  Group Welcome Activity & Kabbalat Shabbat 
7:00 – 8:00 PM  Shabbat Dinner 
8:30 – 10:30 PM  Performance 

Hal Aqua and The Lost Tribe 

MishMish   

10:45 pm  – 12:00 am  Community Jam

Saturday, May 18

Time Event
7:30 – 8:00 AM  Self-Guided Morning Minyan 
8:00 – 9:00 AM  Breakfast
9:00 – 10:30 AM 

Workshops Block 1

Reading Band (Annie Aqua) 

Explore the rich melodies of Klezmer music in this ensemble workshop designed for any instrument. Dive into 2-3 traditional tunes, honing ensemble skills while reading from customized charts tailored for diverse instruments. Immerse yourself in the vibrant world of Klezmer, mastering its unique rhythms and harmonies.” 

 

Olam HaBa: Bringing in the World to Come (Hal Aqua) 

This workshop will connect the theme of social action through music to a reframing of Chasidic songs about Mashiach (Messiah). We’ll study two Yiddish labor songs and two Chasidic Mashiach songs, compare and contrast their lyrical and musical approaches, and try to find common ground in the goal of working for justice in the here and now. 

 

Family and Children Concert (Judy and Harry Sweet) Join father-daughter duo Judy & Harry Sweet for a special, interactive musical event for the whole family! Learn about what makes klezmer music special while dancing, drumming, and singing along to toe-tapping tunes.

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Workshops Block 2 

 

Klezmer and the Bund Labor Movement (Dr. Paul Adlerstein) 

Delve into the profound legacy of the Jewish Labor Bund and its intricate ties to Yiddish culture in a captivating workshop led by Dr. Adlerstein. Explore the historical significance, ideological underpinnings, and enduring impact of this influential movement through engaging discussions and illuminating insights. Don’t miss this enriching exploration of Jewish history and culture. 

Klezmer Music 101 (Alice Hansen) 

 Dive into the rich tapestry of Klezmer, the soulful and spirited music of Eastern European Jewish heritage. Explore its roots, rhythms, and signature instruments. Learn basic melodies and uncover the cultural significance behind this vibrant musical tradition. 

 

Queer History of Klezmer (Ben Sweet)

Embark on a captivating journey through the queer history of Klezmer music in this illuminating workshop. Led by passionate historians, uncover hidden narratives, explore diverse identities, and celebrate the LGBTQ+ contributions to this vibrant musical tradition. Engage in discussions, listen to queer Klezmer compositions, and honor a legacy of resilience and creativity. 

 

Musical Petting Zoo for Kids: 

The Musical Petting Zoo invites children to explore a variety of musical instruments in a playful and interactive setting. Through hands-on experiences, kids can touch, pluck, and strum their way through a menagerie of instruments, fostering creativity, curiosity, and a love for music in young minds. Fun for all  future musicians! 

12:30 – 1:30 PM   Lunch
2:00 – 3:30 PM 

Workshops Block 3

 Yiddish Puppetry Workshop (Janelle Treibitz)

Step into the enchanting world of Yiddish puppets in this immersive workshop. Explore the rich tradition of puppetry infused with Yiddish culture, led by expert puppeteers. From crafting puppets to scripting stories, delve into the magic of this unique art form, preserving heritage through captivating performances and creative expression. 

 

Jewish Musical Influence in Pop (Sam and Chaia of Kleztronica)

Join us for a journey through Jewish musical influence on the last 20+ years of modern pop music. From the trailblazer herself Gwen Stefani (and the group who should really get the credit), to the recent pop hits of Dance Now by JID, Unholy by Sam Smith (feat. Kim Petras), and Drama by aespa, we will identify what exactly is so Jewish or Jewish adjacent about the music. This workshop will be interactive and have a trivia-based component! 

 

Tikkun Olam-Helping our neighbors (Daniel Letter)  

Join Repair the World to delve into Jewish values in action and make a tangible impact. Discover the essence of Tikkun Olam as we assemble kits for new migrants in Denver. Engage in meaningful discussions, embodying the spirit of community and social justice through hands-on service. Come, let’s make a difference together 

4:00 – 5:30 PM  Workshops Block 4 

Exploring Ashkenazi Modes: A Visual Journey (Eitan Kantor) 

Join Eitan in uncovering the beauty of Ashkenazi modes through an accessible singing workshop suitable for all, regardless of sheet music literacy. Utilizing a unique ladder graphic developed by Eitan and Joey Weisenberg, participants will delve into the rich tapestry of these modes and learn a unique way to sing Klezmer tunes! 

 

Yiddish Dance Workshop (Judy Sweet)  

This workshop will cover everything you need to know to feel confident jumping onto a klezmer dance floor and/or playing for dancers as a musician. We will learn the basic rhythms & steps of freylekhs, bulgars, and zhoks* while practicing some of the style and gestures that make Yiddish dance unique. Suitable for all ages and levels.

5:45 – 6:45  PM  Dinner
7:00 – 8:15  PM Concert 

Dot Levine 

Upsherin  

Gora Gora 

11:00 PM – 12:00 AM Concert 

Kleztronica by Chaia and Diva Nigun  

Sunday, May 19

Time Event
7:30 – 8:30  AM  Breakfast
9:30 – 11:00  AM 

Workshops Block 4 

 

Queer History of Klezmer (Ben Sweet)

Embark on a captivating journey through the queer history of Klezmer music in this illuminating workshop. Led by passionate historians, uncover hidden narratives, explore diverse identities, and celebrate the LGBTQ+ contributions to this vibrant musical tradition. Engage in discussions, listen to queer Klezmer compositions, and honor a legacy of resilience and creativity. 

 

Beginner Ensemble (Tung Pham)

Join Tung for an exhilarating beginner ensemble Klezmer workshop, perfect for aspiring musicians of all levels. Dive into the spirited world of Eastern European Jewish music, learning melodies, rhythms, and ensemble dynamics. No prior experience necessary—just bring your enthusiasm and instruments for an unforgettable musical journey into Klezmer tradition. 

 

Tikkun Olam-Helping our neighbors (Daniel Letter)

Join Repair the World to delve into Jewish values in action and make a tangible impact. Discover the essence of Tikkun Olam as we assemble kits for new migrants in Denver. Engage in meaningful discussions, embodying the spirit of community and social justice through hands-on service. Come, let’s make a difference together.

Closing Ceremony 

Housing and Ticket Descriptions

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Day Pass

A day pass allows you to join the KlezKolorado workshops and programming starting at 10 am on Saturday, May 18. Day pass ticket holders can stay for the evening concert, but may not stay overnight. The Day Pass tickets include lunch and dinner on Saturday. Day passes will be available for children (ages 3 – 16), Families (includes two adults and two kids), and individual adults.

Full Festival Access

All tickets below include full access to the KlezKolorado Festival including concerts, workshops, and meals. Meals include Friday Night, Saturday Breakfast, Saturday Lunch, Saturday Dinner, Sunday Breakfast, and a Sunday to-go Lunch.
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Shared Housing

If you select this option, you will be sharing cabin space with other festival goers. There will be options available for male-identifying, female-identifying, and all gendered. Expect 8 – 10 adults to share a cabin. Restrooms and showers will be gendered and shared between multiple cabins. Tickets for shared housing are on a sliding scale.

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Tent Camping

JCC Ranch Camp has some great views! Take them in from the comfort of your own tent! This option allows for a bit more privacy. You will be camping near others choosing this option and you will need to walk a bit to access restrooms and showers. Tickets for tent camping are on a sliding scale.
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Private Cabins

This option comes with 8 full festival passes. Each cabin comfortably sleeps 8 adults. There will be additional charges for more than 8 attendees staying in the cabin. Restrooms and showers are shared between multiple cabins. Private Tiny Homes – Each private tiny home rental includes 2 adult full festival passes. JCC Ranch Camp Tiny Homes each have one full-sized bed and bunked twin bed above. Each tiny home has its own included restroom and shower. 1 or 2 additional guests (ideally children) can be added at an additional cost.

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Private Tiny Home

Each private tiny home rental includes 2 adult full festival passes. JCC Ranch Camp Tiny Homes each have one full-sized bed and bunked twin bed above. Each tiny home has its own included restroom and shower. 1 or 2 additional guests (ideally children) can be added at an additional cost.

Stay informed with all the KlezKolorado Updates by subscribing to our mailing list; following KlezKolorado Instagram; and checking out Festo Festo, a monthly Klezmer and Balkan music concert and community jam session.

Frequently Asked Questions

KlezKolorado is a vibrant and immersive Jewish cultural retreat that celebrates the rich heritage of Klezmer music, dance, and traditions. Participants come together for a unique and memorable experience filled with music workshops, dance sessions, and cultural exploration.

Participants have the option to choose between dorm-style housing for a communal atmosphere, or private cabin-style housing for a more intimate experience. Both options offer a comfortable and welcoming environment for a restful stay.

View all avaliable housing options by visiting the KlezKolorado registration page.

Yes, all meals at KlezKolorado are included in the registration. We provide delicious and kosher food options that cater to various dietary preferences and ensure a delightful culinary experience.

Meals included for full-weekend festival participants are: Friday night dinner, Saturday breakfast, Saturday lunch, Saturday dinner, Sunday breakfast, and Sunday lunch.

For participants only joining for the day, lunch and dinner are provided for on Saturday.

JCC Ranch Camp has onsite parking in a designated area. Vehicles will not be allowed to enter the main grounds of campus in order to keep the KlezKolorado experience car-free.

No open flames or incendiary devices of any kind are to be used by any program participant, musician, or volunteer while on the JCC Ranch Camp property. This includes but is not limited to, cigarettes or other smoking products, matches, candles, incense, lighters, and fireworks. Electronic vapes are allowed in outdoor private spaces. Any person found out of compliance with this policy will be fined $1000 by the JCC Denver.

KlezKolorado participants over the age of twenty-one (21) are welcome to bring alcohol to this festival. Alcohol may only be consumed by people over the age of twenty-one (21). Should an underage individual be found consuming alcohol, or evidence confirming this, the individual/party supplying the alcohol will be removed from the festival, fined $1000, and reported to the local police department. The KlezKolorado organizers expect parties bringing alcohol to keep close track of the location and storage of their alcohol.

No, participation in KlezKolorado is open to individuals of all backgrounds and faiths. Our goal is to create an inclusive and diverse community that comes together to appreciate and celebrate the beauty of Klezmer music and Jewish culture.

Sliding scale pricing allows us to accommodate a broader range of participants by offering different pricing options based on financial capability. This approach helps support the sustainability of KlezKolorado and ensures that the event remains accessible to a diverse community of enthusiasts.

If you have any additional questions or need further assistance, please feel free to reach out to our dedicated KlezKolorado support team at Klezkolorado@jccdenver.org. We are here to help make your experience enjoyable and memorable.

Registration coming soon!

KlezKolorado offers a diverse range of activities, including music workshops, dance classes, cultural discussions, and performances. The detailed schedule will be available closer to the event date.

No, we want all ages to come to KlezKolorado! Participants under the age of 18 are required to be accompanied by a responsible adult.

No. Children attending KlezKolorado must be under the direct supervision of an adult/guardian at all times.

The music workshops cater to various instruments commonly associated with Klezmer music. Check the workshop descriptions for specific instrument requirements, and feel free to contact us if you have any uncertainties.

For the first year of the festival, we do not have the means available to supply scholarships. However, the sliding scale pricing for shared housing, as well as tent camping options are designed to accommodate a large range of means.

Participants are encouraged to bring their instruments for the music workshops and jam sessions. Please ensure that your instrument is suitable for Klezmer music, and contact us if you have any concerns.

The health and safety of our participants is KlezKolorado leadership asks that you stay home from the festival if you are feeling ill. All KlezKolorado participants are highly encouraged to self-administer an at-home rapid COVID test within a couple hours of arrival or upon arrival. Masks will be available for those who feel more comfortable. Proof of vaccination will not be required.

KlezKolorado will take place at JCC Ranch Camp. Participants are responsible for their own transportation to and from KlezKolorado. Driving directions to JCC Ranch Camp can be found here.

Prepare for a comfortable and enjoyable experience by checking our recommended packing list, which may include items such as comfortable clothing, dance shoes, and any specific requirements for workshops. Be sure to pack your own bedding!

Yes! KlezKolorado will need a handful of volunteers to help run the festival. Volunteers will receive a discounted rate for a ticket to the festival. All interested volunteers should contact us at Klezkolorado@jccdenver.org

JCC Ranch Camp, the host site of KlezKolorado, is a rustic and rugged space. There are no paved walkways or roads on the property. Unfortunately, it is not a wheelchair-accessible space. All attendees should be prepared to walk up to a quarter mile between program spaces. Some buildings have a full flight of stairs to access the space. For questions about accessibility, contact Daniel Siegel, Engagement Program Manager, at dsiegel@jccdenver.org.

Help make KlezKolorado a reality!

Interested in becoming a sponsor?

KlezKolorado is supported by:

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Jane E. Rosenbaum

The Blacksberg-Novick-Siegel Family

The Chasek Family

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