Gratitude raises a roof

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March 27, 2013

Hodaya! (Various Victoria artists)
Sunday, March 23, 2013
Alix Goolden Hall

Reviewed by Jennifer Louise Taylor

Hodaya! was an evening of musical entertainment which spanned the globe, flooding back to our small city in waves of joyous sound. The concert was a truly remarkable evening in aid of Congregation Emmanu-el’s much-needed roof repair plans. Victoria’s only synagogue  (that beautiful brick building at the corner of Blanshard and Pandora) is the oldest house of worship in B.C., as well as the oldest synagogue in continuous use in Canada.

Hosted by Jo-Ann Roberts of CBC’s All Points West, Hodaya, which means gratitude, celebrated community building through culture. Diverse artists  offered a smorgasbord of world-class samplings from spoken word, classical and jazz to Indian tablah, Portuguese Fado, new-world Celtic and traditional Persian music.

Victoria’s third Poet Laureate, Janet Rogers, began the evening with a beautifully composed piece written in honour of the evening and its spirit of gratitude. Ex-cop and former Pennsylvanian, jazz super-star, Louise Rose then  entertained with captivating piano and vocals. From there, Niel Golden and Vinod Bhardwaj transported the audience to the tea fields of Darjeeling, switching to a clever transition from Classical Indian music into Hava Nagila (Bhardwaj  pointed out that the same scale, using all flats, is common to both traditional Indian and Israeli music).

Violinist Mark Lupin and pianist Walter Prossnitz treated the audience to three pieces written by Max  Bruch. The three pieces, Vidui (Contrition,) Nigun (Improvisation,) and the Simchas Torah ( Rejoicing,) fit in beautifully with the theme of the evening. The Darya Ensemble, which includes Douglas Hensley and Faraidoun Akhavan, brought us to the break with a great sampling of traditional Persian music.

The Sarah Marreiros Quartet opened the event’s second half  performing traditional Portuguese Fado.  Next, Daniel Lapp performing solo was a real treat. A truly dynamic entertainer, Lapp was engaging from his extemporaneous instrumental musings to his fabulous rendition of Richard Thompson’s Beeswing, played with his bow literally wrapped around his violin. The evening culminated with the Yiddish Columbia State Orchestra waltzing up the middle aisle in a fine Klezmer procession. Their energy had the audience singing along and dancing through the aisles.

Rabbi Harry closed the evening by thanking the organizers of Hodaya! (Isa Milman, Annie Weeks, Barbara Pelman, Zelda Dean and Frances Aknai), saying this is what happens when five strong women get together. “Tikkum Olam,” says Rabbi Harry Brechner, “is the act of repairing the world and leaving our part in better condition than we found it.” Hodaya indeed!


Jennifer Louise Taylor is a Victoria-based musician and former world traveller who enjoys the sound of west-coast rain on a cold tin roof.

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