Open My Eyes
Lenka Lichtenberg is a Canadian composer, vocalist, producer and a bandleader who channels the rich, intercultural Toronto soundscapes in her unique brand of world music. With a voice often described as angelic or ethereal, this award-winning artist (Canadian Folk Music Awards -Traditional Singer of the Year) aspires to build bridges among cultures as she transcends boundaries between folk, jazz and world music in a passionate and often highly spiritual celebration of her roots. A child star in her native Prague, Czech Republic, she is a multilingual vocalist who sings mostly in Yiddish, English, Czech, and Hebrew, and a bandleader with 7 solo CD releases and several collaborations on her resume. Lenka is in the midst of a diverse international concert career, travelling across continents as a solo artist, with her Canadian ensemble, or with one of her collaborative projects. Her last two albums (Yiddish Journey 2016, and MASARYK, 2017) were released on the U.K. label ARC Music.)
Awards and nominations:
2018: Winner, FMO (Folk Music Ontario) Songs From the Heart Award for the Folk Songs from Around the World category ("Sleep, Baby, Sleep")
2018: Winner, The 16th Independent Music Awards, Song - New Age ("Dobru noc, ma mila" from album Masaryk)
2017: Nominee, One World Music Awards (U.K.): Best World/ Global Fusion Album)
2016: Nominee, Canadian Folk Music Awards, World Group of the Year (Live in America)
2015: Nominee, The 14th Independent Music Awards, Album - World Traditional (Lullabies from Exile)
2015: Nominee, The 14th Independent Music Awards, Song - World Traditional (Perfume Road)
2014: Winner, The 13th Independent Music Awards, Vox Populi, Song - New Age ("Raise a Cup of Joy")
2014: Nominee, Toronto Independent Music Awards, "world music" (Embrace)
2014: Nominee, The 13th Independent Music Awards, Song - Eclectic ("Danse Suite Macabre")
2013: Nominee, Canadian Folk Music Awards, World Solo Artist of the Year (Embrace)
2013: Winner, The 12th Independent Music Awards, Vox Populi: "Album - World Traditional" (Songs for the Breathing Walls)
2013: Nominee, The 12th Independent Music Awards, Song - World Traditional (El Mi Migoalei Dam Etzak)
2012: Winner, Canadian Folk Music Awards, Traditional Singer of the Year (Songs for the Breathing Walls)
2012: Nominee, Canadian Folk Music Awards, Traditional Album of the Year (Songs for the Breathing Walls)
2011: Nominee, Toronto Independent Music Awards, world music category (Fray)
2011: Nominee, Canadian Folk Music Awards, World Solo Artist of the Year (Fray)
2011: Winner, Porcupine Award, Musique de la monde (Fray)
2011: Winner, Songs from the Heart, multicultural category ("Peace is the Only Way")
2011: Finalist, John Lennon Songwriting competition, Session II. ("Peace is the Only Way")
2008: Winner, Canadian Folk Music Awards, Vocal Group of the Year (Sheynville Express)
"... There are other Yiddish singers today, but arguably no one has done more than she has to bring the language from nostalgia into the present by combining fresh influences—jazz, Brazilian, Middle Eastern, Indian—new compositions and her hypnotic, angelic voice. […in ] a career that has cultivated the sounds of an interdependent world, [she] has used Yiddish to fashion a bridge from before to after, showing not only what might have been but also bringing “might have” to reality.“ - Alan Tigay, World Listening Post
“A devoted exponent of Yiddish song, Lenka Lichtenberg returns with a deeply personal album MASARYK …another fascinating window upon which to admire Lichtenberg’s restless imagination.” Tommie Black-Roff, UK Songlines
Lenka Lichtenberg was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Her mother was a child survivor of the Holocaust. Lenka was not aware that she was Jewish until the age of 10, and did not know her family’s history until circumstances forced the revelation. The petite, blond singer spent her childhood years in the immensely popular musical theatre Semafor, as child star sidekick to the icon of Czech anti-establishment culture, Jiří Suchý, with whom she recorded several hits that remain popular to this day. She studied classical music at the Prague Music Conservatory, specializing in voice.
Once in Canada, Lenka performed in bars and hotels, and in a rock band travelling remote parts of British Columbia. She also cruised the Caribbean, singing on the Princess Cruise ship Sun Princess. Back at school, she received her Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia, and Masters Degree in Ethnomusicology from the York University in Toronto. Her thesis was on Yiddish music of the Holocaust. Between 1997 and 2005, Lenka taught Music Appreciation at the Ryerson Polytechnic University in Toronto, while raising three children.
Getting to know her mother’s family’s story as an adult, Lenka felt compelled to refocus her creativity and musical energies and become a Yiddish singer, despite the fact that her Czech family was entirely assimilated and no Yiddish was spoken for several generations. After releasing three albums as a solo artist, Lenka co-founded, with Isabel Fryszberg, the Yiddish swing all-female group Sisters of Sheynville, with whom she performed across Canada, in the U.S. and Europe. The band won the Canadian Folk Music Award for Vocal Group of the Year in 2008 for its Sheynville Express disc. Lenka’s diverse musical palette continued to evolve, and crystallized in 2010 when she founded her ensemble Fray (Yiddish for ‘free’). With Fray and bandmate-co-producer Alan Hetherington, Lenka recorded the band’s eponymous debut LP in 2010, followed by Embrace (2013). Both albums of mostly original music build on Lenka’s Eastern European roots and are further informed by her band members’ North Indian classical, Brazilian and Middle Eastern sensibilities.
While long known for her work in the realm of Yiddish music, Lenka’s latest album marks her first foray into celebrating the music of her country of birth. ‘Masaryk’, described as “breathlessly beautiful” in the Dutch press (Moors Magazine), revisits some of the classic Czech, Moravian and Slovak folk songs that permeated Lenka’s early childhood - and provided much of her introduction to folk music.
Lenka tours internationally as a soloist and with various ensembles, presenting concerts in venues ranging from The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., to Etno-fest in Wroclaw, Poland and the Klezfiesta in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her insatiable curiosity and desire to bridge cultures through music propel her to discover new possibilities as a composer, multi-lingual vocalist and multi-instrumentalist. Her work has been rewarded with a number of nominations and awards, most recently winning the 2018 Independent Music Award for Masaryk. Other notable awards include the 2012 Canadian Folk Music Award for Traditional Singer of the Year for her album Songs for the Breathing Walls. For this unique collection, Lenka recorded sacred Hebrew songs in 12 synagogues across the Czech Republic with a cast of international artists from Czech Republic, Israel, Germany, Canada and Russia. The project was the focus of a TV documentary film by Jaroslav Hovorka, broadcast on Czech television.
Lullabies from Exile is a diasporic collection of lullabies, crafted by Lenka and world-renowned Judeo-Iraqi oud and violin virtuoso Yair Dalal, that unites long-disparate Ashkenazi and Babylonian Jewish traditions. Bridges is a collaboration between Lenka and Palestinian-Canadian vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and dancer Roula Said that creates a musical dialogue between Arabic and Jewish music, skillfully backed by Lenka’s Fray ensemble. Her Yiddish creations include the album Pashtes, a collaboration with Brian Katz, for which she set to music ten poems by the poet Simcha Simchovitch. Masaryk is a tribute to Czech politician and diplomat Jan Masaryk, a collaboration with Czech percussionist and composer Tomas Reindl. As well, Lenka works with Canada’s top global fusion producer Andrew McPherson, on electronica remixes.
MASARYK: Narodni pisne - Czech, Moravian and Slovak folk songs re-imagined (2017)
Open My Ears: Lenkkodek (2017)
Live in America (2016)
Yiddish Journey (2016)
Lullabies from Exile: Yair Dalal & Lenka Lichtenberg (2014)
Embrace: Lenka Lichtenberg & Fray (2013)
Songs for the Breathing Walls (2012)
Bridges: Live at Lula Lounge with Roula Said (2012)
Fray: Lenka Lichtenberg & Fray (2010)
Sheynville Express: Sisters of Sheynville (2007)
Pashtes - Music to the Poetry of Simcha Simchovitch: Lenka Lichtenberg with Brian Katz (2006)
Open the Gate (2003)
Deep Inside (1999)
- MASARYK: Narodni pisne (September, 2017) Czech, Moravian and Slovak folk songs re-imagined. Produced by Lenka Lichtenberg; assistant producer Tomas Reindl. Label: ARC Music, U.K.
- Open My Ears: Lenkkodek (January, 2017): EP -dance- electronica- new age remixes. Produced by Andrew McPherson
- Live in America (March 20, 2016): EP. 6 songs recorded live on tour in the U.S.A. in November, 2015. Produced by Lenka Lichtenberg
- Yiddish Journey (February 26, 2016): 18 Yiddish songs, original and traditional. Label: ARC Music, U.K.
- Lullabies from Exile (2014) : Eastern European/Yiddish, and Iraqi songs intertwined. Co-produced with Yair Dalal. Label: Magda
- Animals Trust Anthem - single. Fundraiser for AnimalsTrust. (2014). Sunflower Records. Produced by Galen Weston.
- Embrace (2013) : world fusion. Acoustic original songs in English and Yiddish., by Lenka Lichtenberg & Fray. Co-produced with Alan Hetherington. Sequence to Fray (1). Canadian release at Glenn Gould Studio, Toronto.
- Songs for the Breathing Walls (2012): Live liturgy recordings. Produced by Lenka Lichtenberg
- Bridges: Live at Lula Lounge (2012) : Jewish and Arabic music in dialogue. Produced by Lenka Lichtenberg
- Fray (2010): original songs in Yiddish and English, world music, by Lenka Lichtenberg & Fray.. Co-produced with Alan Hetherington
- Lomir Zingen: (2008): Collection of children's Yiddish songs. Produced by Lenka Lichtenberg
- Pashtes (2006) : all-Yiddish, all-original. Poems by Simcha Simchovitch. Music by L. Lichtenberg. Co-produced with Brian Katz
- Open The Gate (2003): Lenka's original songs in English and French. Produced by Levon Ichkhanian
- Deep Inside (1999): traditional Yiddish and original songs in English. Produced by Ken Whiteley
with Sisters of Sheynville:
- Sheynville Express: (2007) - Yiddish swing-klez. Most arrangements and/or 3-part vocal arrangements by Lenka Lichtenberg. Produced by Eric Stein
- Best of Yiddish Songs & Klezmer Music - ARC Music. Tracks #3 and 15 - March, 2016
- Independent No.1's Vol. 3 - WOA Records. Track: "2010" (from Embrace) - June 2014
see on iTunes
- World Music for War Child - ARC. Tracks #3 and #11 (from Bridges, Lullabies from Exile) - January 8, 2015
see/buy on iTunes
- GOA Chillout Zone Vol. 6 - WOA Records. Track #1: "Open My Eyes (Eccodek Remix)" - March 3, 2015
see on CD Baby
RECORDINGS, FESTIVALS, CONCERTS
Her first CD Deep Inside (1999), produced by the Juno-award winner Ken Whiteley, received air-play on radio stations in a number of countries, including CBC Radio, which also carried her profile on the Global Village program in June, 2002 and again in June, 2004.
- Director Jaroslav Hovorka's documentary film "Lenka Lichtenberg: Pisne pro ozivle steny" was broadcast December 28-31, 2011, on Czech national TV.
- OziMenschlife TV, live interview with David Grossman, January 17, 2011.
- 30-minute profile about Lenka's work in Jewish music aired in Canada in January and again in February, 2009 (OMNI TV1).
- a documentary film based on Lenka's unlikely journey from a Czech child star with no knowledge of her background to an international Yiddish performer, Jewish music composer and cantor. Czech TV , "Cesty viry", October 15, 2006.
To view the documentary go to Cesty víry
- A number of programs with the Theatre Semafor and as a soloist in the Czech Republic.
SELECT RADIO AIRPLAY HIGHLIGHTS
- !Earshot #19 Top International Album (December 2014)
(charted on CKCU Ottawa, CFBX Kamloops, CKUA Edmonton, CSJW Calgary, CHLY Nanaimo, CKLU Thunder Bay)
- Peaceful Radio (Netherlands)
- SAOS (London, UK)
- National Radio (Prague, Czech Republic)
- CBC Radio One: Here & Now Song of The Week (January, 2014)
- KAOS (Olympia, Washington) ~ #7 World Music Album (August, 2013)
- KMUW Global Village (NPR-syndicated)
- KALX (San Francisco)
- KBOO (Portland, Oregon)
- WHPK (Chicago)
- KKUP (Denver)
- CIUT (Toronto)
- WMUA (Amherst, Massachusetts)
- Solar Jazz World (Barcelona, Spain)
CBC Radio 1, Fresh Air: Karen Gordon interviews Lenka about her latest album "Embrace" ~ April 28, 2013. Karen Gordon calls Embrace "Absolutely exquisite."
Listen to it here
CBC Fresh Air: Mary Ito interviews Jewish-Canadian musician, Lenka Lichtenberg and Palestinian-Canadian musician, Roula Said to talk about their musical collaboration called "Bridges: Yiddish & Arabic Music in Dialogue". ~ April 2, 2011
Radio Proglas feature, Czech republic ~ February 2011
Radio Sefarad (program about Fray), Spain ~ October 2010
Mapamundi (Fray among Top 10 releases for 2010), Spain
Radio Vltava, Prague, Czech republic: Cajovna, interview with Peter Doruzka ~ September 20, 2010
Ethno Radio, Czech Republic, on playlist/rotation ~ September 2010
Featured on Australia's largest ethnic community Radio 3ZZZ - 92.3 FM ~ September 3, 2010
Radio Shalom Montreal: Program about Pashtes and Lenka's previous recordings. ~ September 4, 2007
Radio Sefarad, Madrid, Report about Pashtes - in Spanish by Jorge Rozemblum ~ July 6, 2007
Interview about Pashtes CD, CBC Radio 1, Arts Tonight ~ January 24, 2007
Profiles on Global Village, CBC Radio June 2002 ~ June 2004
Radio Centre-Ville, Montreal ~ August 2004
Airplay on CBC Radio (Roots & Wings, Round Up, Here and Now), world music programs on CHIN, CIUT,
CJRT (Absolutely Folk) in Toronto, CHRW in London, CKDJ in Ottawa, Vancouver Co-op Radio, as well as world music
programs around the world
Performance at the CBC Choral Concert ~ 1997
Mutual Inspirations, Embassy of the Czech Republic, Washington, DC (2017)
Vocal Music Festival, Abu Gosh, Israel (2017)
Yiddish Summer Weimar, Germany (2017)
World Music Festival - JAZZ fm.91, Hugh's Room
Small World Music Festival - opening for Jorge Drexler
Mitte Europa (trio), Chemnitz, Germany
Stratford Summer Works Music Festival, (Fray - quartet), Canada
Klezfiesta with "Fray", Buenos Aires, Argentina
ETNO Brno Festival, Czech Republic
Montreal International jewish Music Festival, Lullabies from Exile, Montreal
Jewish Music Ashkenaz Festival, Lullabies from Exile, Toronto
Festival MAZIF, Czech Republic
Small World Music Festival, Fray, Toronto
Jazz festival U reky ve Tremosne, Czech republic
Shalshelet International Festival of New Liturgy, Miami, U.S.A.
Festival Singera, Fray, Warsaw, Poland
Trebic Samajim Festival, with Yair Dalal, Czech republic
Winterfolk Festival, Fray, Toronto
Mitte Europa (trio) - Ostrov, Czech Republic
World Fusion Music Festival, Fray, Sosnowiec, Poland
Boskovice Music Festival, Czech republic
Chutzpah! International Jewish Performing Arts Festival, Vancouver, Canada (Fray, Yair Dalal)
Etno-fest, Fray, Wroclaw, Poland
Folkove prazdniny festival, Czech republic
Brücke/Most-Stiftung’s Culture Festival, Dresden, Germany
Geneva Music Festival "La Fête de musique, Switzerland
San Francisco Jewish Music Festival, U.S.A.
Klezmore! Festival, Vienna, Austria
Ashkenaz Festival, Toronto, Canada
Klezfiesta with Christian Dawid, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Mariposa Folk Festival, Sisters of Sheynville, Orillia, Ontario, Canada
Washington Jewish Arts Festival with Sisters of Sheynville, Washington, D.C.
Festival of Yiddish poetry, concert with Daniel Hoffman, Daniel Galay, Kinneret Sagee, Tel Aviv, Israel
NXNE, Sisters of Sheynville, Toronto, Canada
Distillery Jazz Festival, Sisters of Sheynville, Toronto, Canada
Yiddish Music Festival, Queens, with Zalmen Mlotek. New York, U.S.A.
Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival, Sisters of Sheynville, Toronto, Canada
Jewish Mosaic Festival, Toronto, Canada
International Yiddish Theater Festival, Montreal, Canada
Celebrate Toronto Street festival, Sisters of Sheynville, Toronto, Canada
North York Winter Carnival, Toronto, Canada
City Roots, Sisters of Sheynville, Toronto, Canada
Mamapalooza, Toronto, Canada
Buffalo Music Festival, Sisters of Sheynville, Buffalo, N.Y., U.S.A.
Leeds Performing Arts Festival, with Brian Katz, Leeds, U.K.
Winterfolk Festival, Sisters of Sheynville, Toronto, Canada
Mameloshen Festival, Sisters of Sheynville, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
MAJOR CONCERTS AND EVENTS:
Theatre Givatayim, Tel Aviv, Israel
DROM, New York
Nectar Lounge, Seattle
Ashkenaz, Berkeley, California
Genghis Cohen, Los Angeles
The International House, University of Chicago
Legion Arts, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
The Washington, Iowa
Glenn Gould Studio, Toronto
Pearl Company, Hamilton, Ontario
Pride Week Interfaith Music Fair, Toronto
"Light of Understanding" concert, Prague, Czech Republic
Calgary Folk Club, Canadian Folk Music Awards Nominee Showcase, Calgary, Alberta
St. Lawrence Center for the Arts, Honeycomb Way Project, with Frank London and Yair Dalal, Toronto
32e Congrès de Généalogie Juive, Paris, France
Hugh's Room, World Jazz for Haiti, Toronto
Teatro Alvear (Fray), Buenos Aires, Argentina
Lula Lounge, Bridges with Roula Said, Toronto
Jeruzalemska synagoga, Pisne pro zpivajici steny, with Yair Dalal, Christian Dawid, David Doruzka and
Tomas Reindl. Prague, Czech republic
Official Showcase - Folk Alliance International Conference, Toronto
Official Showcase - Bridges, OCFF, Toronto
Global Cafe Showcase - Fray, OCFF, Toronto
Free Times Cafe - Yiddish Chestnuts with Kinneret Sagee and Brian Katz, Toronto
Divadlo na pradle, with Yair Dalal, Prague, Czech republic
Al Green Theater, Bridges with Roula Said, Toronto
Cafe Babylone, (Fray), Quebec
Songs for the Breathing Walls - multi-media, Darchei Noam Congregation, Toronto
Historic Town Hall concert with Yair Dalal, Kosice, Slovakia
Official showcase - Ontario Council of Folk Festivals
La Sala Rossa (Fray), Montreal
Czech tour - Stara Synagoga, Plzen; Liberec Synagogue; Spanish Synagogue, Prague; Teplice; Prague, Zidovska radnice; Boskovice Festival.
The Spiro Ark, solo concert. London, U.K.
La Cappella, concert with Brian Katz, Bern, Switzerland
New Band! Di BAKL, at the Free Times Cafe, Toronto, Canada
Culture as Resistance"- Holocaust commemorative concert. With Mitch Smolkin and the Toronto Jewish Folk Choir. Miles Nadal JCC, Toronto, Canada
Etty Hillesum Centrum with Brian Katz and Kinneret Sage, Deventer, Holland
Jewish Book Fair with Simcha Simchovitch, Leah Posluns Theatre, Toronto, Canada
Solo concert, Hobart, Australia
Lenka led Bialik Hebrew Day School students in a musical exchange with Theodore Bikel, Toronto, Canada.
Klub Violino, solo and group concerts, Prague, Czech republic
Gladstone Hotel - New band! the Bohemian Village Band, with Eric Stein (mandolin, double bass), Alex Gajic (violin), percussionist Alan Hetherington. Songs in Czech, Moravian, Slovak, Russian, and Serbian
"Lider fun goldenem land": Celebration of Life & Work of Mordechai Gebirtig. Musical presentation and lecture. Beth Emeth, Toronto, Canada
Concert as a soloist with the Vancouver Folk Choir, Vancouver, Canada
Concert at the Czech centrum, Dresden, Germany
Rex Hotel and Jazz Bar, annual Latkapalooza with Sisters of Sheynville, Toronto, Canada
Prima Vista Music-Bar Restuarant, with Brian Katz, Baden, Switzerland
Concerts with Christian Dawid, clarinet, Teplice, and Prague, Zidovska radnice, Czech republic
Yom Kippur Services with Rabbi Elyse Goldstein, Kolel, Toronto, Canada
Rosh Hashana Services with Rabbi Tina Grimberg, Congregation Darchei Noam, Toronto, Canada
Yiddish Kavehoyz concerts, New York, U.S.A.
The Workmen's Circle, song workshop, New York, U.S.A.
Lenka led Bialik Hebrew Day School's Yiddish musical performance to celebrate the release of the CD "Lomir zingen in Yiddish", which she produced. Sponsored by Ashkenaz Festival for New Yiddish Culture.
Hugh's Room, Sisters of Sheynville, Toronto, Canada
Klub Hermes, with blues virtuoso guitarist Sue DaBaco, Prague, Czech republic
Brampton Folk Club concert series, Sisters of Sheynville, Brampton, Canada
Kol Nidre, Oraynu Congregation for Humanistic Judaism, Toronto, Canada
Solo concert, Smolnice, Czech republic
Flying Club Folk Club, Sisters of Sheynville, Toronto, Canada
solo musical program, Beit Leyvik, Tel Aviv, Israel
Leah Posluns Theatre, Sisters of Sheynville, Toronto, Canada