REVIEWS - EXCERPTS (full reviews in chronological order below)
"...Imaginative arrangements...Lichtenberg's vocals soar..." Andrew Timar, The WholeNote, Canada
"...a lovely album which should appeal across a wide listener base even without knowing the language." Stuart Derdeyn, Vancouver Sun
"Breathtakingly beautiful." ~ Holly Moors, Moors Magazine, The Netherlands
"... a very sophisticated singer" ~ Dani Heyvaert, Rootstime, Belgium
"...another fascinating window upon which to admire Lichtenberg’s restless imagination.” ~ Tommie Black-Roff, Songlines, U.K.
"Passionate and prolific, Lenka Lichtenberg is a force of nature within Canada’s world music scene.... Like Loreena McKennitt with Celtic sounds, Lichtenberg is pushing Yiddish music beyond its klezmer stereotype into a truly inspired form of world music." ~ Nicholas Jennings, Penguin Eggs, Canada
"Yiddish Journey, Lichtenberg’s tenth album, is a captivating 18-track compilation from a career that has cultivated the sounds of an interdependent world. “ ~ Alan Tigay, World Listening Post, USA
“Interested in hearing songs belted out in Yiddish, Czech or other exotic language? Meet Lenka Lichtenberg, perhaps Toronto's best-known fusion musician. Her enthralling vocals and curious blend of Middle Eastern, Latin, and European influences will add spice and flavour to your musical pallette. Supporting her vocals are instruments ranging from the sitar to powerful percussions to flutes. She's also been featured on CBC's Here and Now - "Open My Eyes" was chosen as song of the week this past January.” ~ BlogTO (Top 10 Fusion Bands)
“The Czech-born vocalist and composer ranges around the world music map in a variety of projects fusing Yiddish songs and folk influences and instrumentation from three continents for a rich listening experience.” ~ Chris Young, Toronto Star
“... a brilliant fusion of Yiddish songs, world music, jazz and modern Indie elements…” ~ FolkWorld.eu
“ pristine vocal tone and meticulous, delicate arrangements…” ~ Michael Barclay, Kitchener-Waterloo Record & Radio Free Canuckistan
“Embrace is world music in the truest sense of world fusion ... It sends chills up and down your spine and makes the eyes moisten, and it is an absolute must have for any serious world music aficionado …Perfectly consistent throughout, Embrace is a magical album full of charm and beauty that grips the listener and won't let go ... already among my all-time favourites of the world fusion genre.” ~ Rich Rainlore, Rainlore’s World of Music (U.K.)
"... ethereal, sometimes hypnotic....Obviously this has a niche audience, but a niche that stretches from here to eternity … a sumptous bazaar of orchestral pop & worldbeat exotica” ~ David Farrell, NewCanadianMusic.ca
"...deeply moving...The album is a very special achievement..." ~ Mike Regenstreif, Ottawa Jewish Bulletin; Folk Roots/Folk Branches
"It takes a few moments of listening to get past the pleasure and feel amazed at what you're hearing. It's Lenka Lichtenberg's crystalline voice singing to a Middle Eastern beat in Mizrachi style. But the words are in Yiddish. The splicing of two Jewish spheres into a world music fusion sound is astounding and makes you feel as though you have stepped onto a new planet."
~ Heather Solomon, Canadian Jewish News (Montreal)
“Lichtenberg has a lovely, confectionary, gamin-like quality. Her soprano voice sails above and around the notes with perfect control, weaving a luminous mystical web.”
~Lesley Mitchell-Clarke, WholeNote Magazine (Toronto)
“...one of the most mesmerising mergers of world music and electronica we've heard in a while.” ~ Kerry Doole, New Canadian Music (for Open My Eyes, Eccodek Peripheral Vision remix)
REVIEWS FOR MASARYK (excerpts)
- "... Lichtenberg and Czech musician Tomas Reindl have fashioned imaginative arrangements of 14 songs. European folk instruments such as the cimbalom, kantele and bagpipes join standard orchestral instruments in their elaborate charts, firmly placing these songs in a European context. Interestingly, Reindl’s gentle tabla playing on several songs and the didgeridoo on another serve to shift those songs’ focus slightly from the Czech lands, rendering them more universal. The album was recorded in studios in the Czech Republic and in Toronto, further underscoring its internationality.
The award-winning Lichtenberg’s unaffected vocals soar over the acoustic instrumentals, often overdubbing herself with characteristic regional harmonies...The entire album, obviously a product of great care and love, rewards multiple listens. Andrew Timar, The WholeNote, February, 20180
- "....The songs featured were favourites of Lichtenberg’s late grandmother and she puts passion behind her renditions of all the material selected from the Czech, Slovak and Moravian traditions. ... Of course, the Toronto singer has explored many different styles of music in her career and, along with noted Czech composer Tomás Reindl, the two employ everything from brass sections and cellos to tabla drums and bagpipes. It all works on this lovely album which should appeal across a wide listener base even without knowing the language." Stuart Derdeyn, Vancouver Sun, in his column Scene & Heard. Also published in The Montreal Gazette, The Ottawa Citizen, The Windsor Star and other prominent Post Media publications. (December 18, 2017)
- ".....Breathtakingly beautiful." Holly Moors, Moors Magazine, The Netherlands (August 11, 2017)
“A devoted exponent of Yiddish song, Lenka Lichtenberg returns with a deeply personal album that reimagines a 75 year old collection of Czechoslovakian national songs. The award-winning Canadian musician has spent a career hopping genres, languages and international stages, only now choosing to devote an album to her birthplace and mother tongue. The timing could not be more poignant, given the passing away of Lichtenberg’s Czech mother in 2016…. Songs are steeped in a romantic mid-20th century nostalgia, an especially good fit given the soaring emotive nature of Lichtenberg’s vocals… another fascinating window upon which to admire Lichtenberg’s restless imagination.” UK Songlines, Tommie Black-Roff: (November 2017)
- "... a very sophisticated singer"... Dani Heyvaert, Rootstime, Belgium (September 2017)
Translated review: https://tinyurl.com/ycmjs8ac)
- ... “With a small band on traditional and classical instruments, she essays these songs with almost palpable (and often overtly Jewish) passion..." Graham Reid, NZ: Elsewhere, New Zealand https://www.elsewhere.co.nz/world-music/8106/elsewhere-world-service-a-quick-overview-of-recent-world-music-releases/
- "What's New on CD", Angel Romero, Musica Del Mundo, U.S.A., http://musicasdelmundo.com/?tag=lenka-lichtenberg
REVIEWS (excerpts) FOR YIDDISH JOURNEY
"... "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. Yiddish Journey, Lichtenberg’s tenth album, is a captivating 18-track compilation from a career that has cultivated the sounds of an interdependent world. “ - Alan Tigay, World Listening Post, April 30, 2017
"...modern, but beautiful, a very special atmosphere!" - Jan Waas, Crescas web column, Netherlands (April 22, 2016)
"This is a collection of 18 beautiful, artistic, thoughtful songs." - Arthur Shuey, World Music Central (March 31, 2016)
"Lenka's spiritual quest is a strong theme throughout the album" - Adam Cailler, Jewish Telegraph, U.K. (March 11, 2016)
"At the centre, Lichtenberg’s vocals remain remarkably controlled and soulful throughout... the record is a worthy testament to Lichtenberg’s place at the forefront of modern hybridised Yiddish song for the past 17 years" - Tommie Black-Roff, Songlines, issue 117 (April 7, 2016)
REVIEWS FOR LULLABIES FROM EXILE (with Yair Dalal)
“Ms. Lichtenberg’s and Yair Dalal’s recording strikes my heart like an arrow piercing the centre …. the music is outstanding and hair-raising whether the words are fully comprehended or not.” ~ Raul Da Gama, TheWorldMusicReport.com
“ … a splendid new album of old Jewish lullabies from Eastern Europe and the Middle East…”
~ Ha’aretz (Tel Aviv, Israel)
“A beguiling collection of songs…” ~ The Jerusalem Post
“Invigorating … breathing fresh life into traditional material…” ~ Kerry Doole, New Canadian Music
“Lichtenberg’s sweet, high voice in Yiddish serves as a perfect companion to Dalal’s smooth, deep Arabic singing.” ~ Yiddish Forward (New York City)
feature articles and reviews in chronological order with links
ROCK & ALL - feature article by Petr Dorůžka, November edition, 2017, pp. 90-91- | Globální kuchyně
WORLD LISTENING POST - Yiddish Journey review, Alan Tigay, April 30, 2017
Listening Post 97. Yiddish is often discussed in before-and-after terms. As a language of daily life it barely survived the Holocaust, and postwar Jewish migrations led to further decline. So when the Czech-born Canadian singer Lenka Lichtenberg decided she wanted to perform in a language that hadn’t been spoken in her family for generations, it was less an exercise in adult education than in resurrection. 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. Yiddish Journey, Lichtenberg’s tenth album, is a captivating 18-track compilation from a career that has cultivated the sounds of an interdependent world. She chants Zum Gali Gali (in Yiddish, Hebrew and English) as a song of concord—“In the whole world there shall be peace”—adapting a kibbutz song about working the land, which was itself a recycled medieval folk song (video 1). In Eybik (Eternal), she opens Yiddish to a warm Arabic embrace: “Eternal, great, powerful is the yearning for happiness,” she sings, “bright, splendid is life’s music” (video 2). Zing (Sing) connects the music with Lichtenberg’s own journey: “Sing of those who have already turned to dust… to generations who’ll again sound the golden horn” (video 3). More traditional is Ver hot aza yingele(Who Has Such a Boy?) featuring a Jewish mother kvelling about her son (video 4). And who has such a gift? Lichtenberg—who sings in six languages and serves as a cantorial soloist and composer in a Toronto synagogue—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. (ARC Music)
OTTAWA JEWISH BULLETIN - Yiddish Journey review, Mike Regenstreif, December 5, 2016
Toronto-based singer Lenka Lichtenberg, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, grew up in Prague. As a young adult, she arrived in Canada and studied ethnomusicology at York University, writing her MA thesis on Yiddish songs of the Holocaust. Over the years, she has recorded numerous albums, as a solo artist and fronting several groups, several of which I’ve reviewed in these pages.
Yiddish Journey: The Music of Lenka Lichtenberg is an 18-song, 78-minute compilation of Yiddish material drawn from Lichtenberg’s earlier albums that showcase a singer deeply committed to both the traditions from which the songs come and to an artistic vision that seeks to take some of them in new directions.
One of the most interesting songs is “Es Khlipen Di Malokhim (Weeping Angels),” Lichtenberg‘s setting of a Yiddish poem by Beruriah Wiegand with an English verse by Lichtenberg. With a vibrant rhythm laid down by Ravi Naimpally on tabla and George Koller on bass, and set against Alexis Basque’s piccolo cornet, Lichtenberg sings about angels, forbidden love and sin.
Another highlight is “Zing,” Lichtenberg’s setting of a poem by Simcha Simchovitch, which she performs with guitarist Brian Katz. With its bright melody, the song looks forward to springtime and to better days ahead.
You don’t have to be Jewish to appreciate the huge talent and delightful sonic adventure that is the music of Lenka Lichtenberg (I’m not but truly do) who this afternoon releases her eighth album, Yiddish Journey, at a free show as part of the Jewish Music Week celebrations taking part across the city.
As we first told you back in January of 2013, Lichtenberg, a native of Prague with a universalist world view, is all about crossing borders with her music, combining elements of Folk musics of countries from across the world to create unique aural textures.
It’s difficult to do justice to her exquisitely ethereal, mind-blowing art-Jazz with words; it’s something you have to experience to appreciate. (Hear and see an example of her in performance elsewhere on our website. and also access tracks on her site or through itunes.)
A member of award-winning Sisters of Sheynville, her compositions have always contained a strong Yiddish strain, but usually combined with other influences, including, dramatically, her Bridges collaboration with Canadian-Palestinian artist Roula Said as well as blends with South American and Arabian styles among others.
While one would assume, based on the title, that a more purely Yiddish sound is likely to be featured on the new album, which she recorded and is releasing with her longtime inventive band Fray, with Lichtenberg at the wheel I’d expect Yiddish Journey probably involves taking the scenic route, with a lot of twists and turns and probes into unfamiliar but exciting territories, with moments that will have you gripping the arms of your seat.
Today’s one-hour concert, free because it’s sponsored by Jewish Music Week, runs 2-3 p.m. at The Rex, 194 Queen St. West and will include her band (Chris Garntner on bass, Alan Hetherington on drums and pandeiro, Ravi Naimpally on tabla and darbuka and Demetrios Petsalakis on oud, guitar and lyra) as well as special guests Kinneret Kiki Sage on clarinet and Jessica Hana Deutsch on violin.)
Crescas Web Column - album review, Jan Waas, Netherlands - April 22, 2016
(translated from Dutch)
This week I will discuss a new album by Lenka Lichtenberg…. Yiddish Journey is a CD from singer / composer Lenka Lichtenberg. One and a half years ago I received a CD Lullabies from Exile on which she performs with the Iraqi Yair Dalal children’s songs from their homelands, the Czech Republic and as mentioned, Iraq, a rare combination. At present Lichtenberg lives in Toronto, Canada, and Yair Dalal is regularly associated with the origin of the Catalan formation Hesperion XXI of Jordi Savall.
Dalal accompanies Luchtenberg on one song on this CD, Dremlen feygl. All 18 songs are from her previously released 5 CDs, which - to my knowledge - have never been available in the Netherlands.
Lichtenberg had a thorough musical education and even teaches at a university in a particular profession “music appreciation.” Of the 18 songs, there are only 8 that are well-known, such as the opening track “Hey, tsigelekh” by Mordechai Gebirtig about the pathetic little shepard who commits suicide by jumping into the river while he has no swimming certificate. The water flows out of your CD player, so beware!
Of the nonsense pioneer song Tzum Galiu Gali Lichtenberg makes a very special composition by adding English text about peace. There are songs with her own texts, and those of others, Bruriah Wiegand and poet Simcha Simchovitch from Toronto.
All arrangements are by Lichtenberg herself. I find that a benefit, because it combines the fusion sounds of the Middle east and India with those of Eastern Europe and even jazzy South America. The result is modern, but beautiful, a very special atmosphere! Check out also her YouTube videos. The latter applies to others CDs, where via ‘Kugel’ one can find a lot of such beautiful things. The only real negative I can report about this CD is that no texts have been added to my regret, only English concise translations.
The CD can be found on Spotify.
Yiddish Journey, The Music of Lenka Lichtenberg
ARC EUCD 2625
Distributeur: Music & Words, Zeist)
Songlines - album review, Tommie Black-Roff, U.K. - April 7, 2016
‘Smooth Yiddish world music’ from Czech-born Canadian
For better or worse, Jewish song often contends with a dizzying array of demands, from dealing with painful memory to building bridges across current political turmoil. The challenge you might say is twofold. The challenge you might say is twofold, to juggle these issues and simultaneously hold on to the beauty in the mix. Lenka Lichtenberg does this admirably.
Yiddish Journey is aptly named. With this record, the Czech-born Canadian singer departs from the conservatories and piano bars of her youth and journeys to the centre of the Canadian world music scene by way of klezmer-jazz and cantorial singing. Striking collaborations pepper her route, notably with Iraqi-Israeli oud player Yair Dalal and the polished vocal tones of the Sisters of Sheynville. Meanehil the band Fray provide the album’s sonic backbone, comfortably genre-hopping from South Asia to the Middle East and Europe.
At the centre, Lichtenberg’s vocals remain remarkably controlled and soulful throughout. In line with the klezmer origins of much of the Yiddish material, one can’t help feeling it would benefit to find the occasional rough-edged krecht or sob. Nonetheless, the record is a worthy testament to Lichtenberg’s place at the forefront of modern hybridised Yiddish song for the past 17 years.
World Music Central, USA. - album review, Arthur Shuey, - March 31, 2016
'This is a collection of 18 beautiful, thoughtful, artistic songs."
Go to World Music Central, type in Lenka and full review comes up.
Jewish Telegraph - album review, Adam Cailler, U.K. - March 11, 2016
To locate article, click on the Arts section and find Lenka's name for online edition http://www.jewishtelegraph.com/
Toronto Moon.ca - blog. - article, Gary's Orbit, Toronto - August 8, 2015
"Summing up the World is a Job Lenka was born for..." ..."Tonight's finale is billed as The World Influences Show, and there is no better way than that to describe the incomparable, hypnotically eclectic and both affirmational and subversive music produced by the showcase act, Lenka Lichtenberg & Fray. ... Iconoclastic yet embracing..."
read article here
"...putting the world in the World Solo category, nominee Lenka Lichtenberg offered a hypnotic set of Yiddish, Czech and Slovak inspired songs - backed by the most exotic instruments of the evening. The opening number literally transported listeners across the globe, and her haunting vocals caressed the foundation of piano, lute and percussion beneath...."
FolkWorld - Europe's Folk Music Portal - Embrace review by Adolf "gorhand" Gorlup, August 26, 2013
"...breathtaking vocal artistry.... a brilliant fusion of Yiddish songs, world music, Jazz and modern Indie elements... inspired singing..."
Rainlore's World - U.K. - Review by Rich Sharma, July 12, 2013
"... Embrace is world music in the truest sense of world fusion and in a year so far of outstanding releases still stands head and shoulders above the rest."
NEW CANADIAN MUSIC - Review by David Farrell, April 25, 2013
"...deeply moving...The album is a very special achievement..."
Penguin Eggs - Review of the Songs for the Breathing Walls and Bridges by Nicholas Jennings, Spring Edition 2013
Passionate and prolific, Lenka Lichtenberg is a force of nature within Canada’s world music scene. Born in Prague of East European heritage, she is a composer, vocalist, producer, ethnomusicologist and bandleader with five solo CDs and several collaborative projects to her credit. Although she works in six languages, Lichtenberg has made Yiddish her main medium out of a deep belief in keeping that tradition alive (her mother is a Holocaust child survivor). She has recorded what she calls “Yiddish ethno-jazz” with members of Tasa, and partnered with oud and violin virtuoso Yair Dalal in a unique Yiddish-Iraqi work-in-progress. Now Lichtenberg has released two boundary-pushing CDs. Bridges, recorded live at Toronto’s Lula Lounge, pairs her with Middle Eastern musician-dancer Roula Said in a Yiddish-Arabic musical dialogue. Backed by superb musicians like Ravi Naimpally, Ernie Tollar, John Gzowski and Alan Hetherington, Lichtenberg and Said trade vocals on songs like Nujum and Open My Eyes. Although the English lyrics are sometimes a little too on the nose, the music is often thrilling and the album’s cross-cultural message, best expressed in the opener Peace is the Only Way, admirable. Lichtenberg’s Songs for the Breathing Walls took her into 12 Czech and Moravian synagogues where she recorded songs based on biblical texts once recited and chanted within those walls. Set to ouds, sitars, clarinets and violins, the Jewish liturgical poems and prayers take on a powerful, haunting quality. Like Loreena McKennitt with Celtic sounds, Lichtenberg is pushing Yiddish music beyond its klezmer
stereotype into a truly inspired form of world music.
Toronto Moon Magazine - by Gary Webb-Proctor, January, 2013
"Arguably Toronto's most innovative ethnic folk/world folk-jazz singer and composer with five solo CD's already released, Lenka Lichtenberg is noi stranger to teaming up with artists from Europe, the Middle East and South America to create unique collaborative compositions that combine diverse cultural influences."...
"... ethereal, sometimes hypnotic....Obviously this has a niche audience, but a niche that stretches from here to eternity. Buy."
Times of Israel - feature article by Renee Ghert-Zand, November 2012
The WholeNote 2012
Review FEBRUARY 2012
"Lenka Lichtenberg presented a truly Canadian blend of music combining all sorts of styles. I got goose bumps when I listened to an Auschwitz
lullaby performed in Roma, Yiddish, Russian and English. (In other songs, ...) ...the combination of typical klezmer clarinet played with a backing
of Middle Eastern percussion and electric cello took listeners on an incredible musical journey."
- February 20, 2012 www.gazetagazeta.com/2012/02/winterfolk-2012/
"Singer of new Yiddish music reaps rewards". Feature article by Dorothy Lichtblau in the Canadian Jewish News, February 2, 2012, page 46:
CJN MONTREAL January 2011
"It takes a few moments of listening to get past the pleasure and feel amazed at what you're hearing. It's Lenka
Lichtenberg's crystalline voice singing to a Middle Eastern beat in Mizrachi style. But the words are in Yiddish. The
splicing of two Jewish spheres into a world music fusion sound is astounding and makes you feel as though you have
stepped onto a new planet." Feature article "Singer fuses two Jewish spheres with her music" by Heather Solomon, CJN Montreal,
January 27, 2011 http://www.cjnews.com/sites/default/files/files/eCJN/2011/01%2027%2011%20MTL.pdf
PORCUPINE AWARDS December 2011
"This is an excellent album of Yiddish poems set to original music composed by Lichtenberg. Fray utilizes the services
of Tasa: Ravi Naimpally, John Gzowski, Ernie Tollar, Alan Hetherington and Chris Gartner. I mean, Yiddish music with
tablas!..." Steve Fruitman, 2011 Porcupine Awards - "MUSIQUE DE LA MONDE - brought here to enrich us all"
The FORWARD April 2011
"From Prague to Masada and Back Again" , The Forward, Renee Ghert-Zand, New York, April 18, 2011
Monday Music: From Prague to Masada and Back Again – The Arty ...blogs.forward.com/the-arty-semite/137127/Cached–
On her first visit to Israel in 1987, Czech-born Canadian singer Lenka Lichtenberg looked out from the top of Masada
and never looked back.
Petr Doružka - World Music " Lenka Lichtenberg a Yair Dalal: Klezmer, jiddiš a hudba Babylonu"
Review March 2011
RECENZE: "Lenka Lichtenberg je exotická jen na první poslech" - iDNES.cz 7. března 2011
"Singer Marries Yiddish, Middle Eastern Influences"
Jordana Divon - feature article 2011 jordanadivon.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/lenka.pdf
"Beautiful, haunting, inspiring and mesmerizing are but a few of the adjectives that describe this aural delight.
Soothing, enticing, and full of vibrancy, Lenka has one of the sweetest voices in the world.”
~ Rankin, HBN Radio, Harrisburg, Penn., U.S.A.
“The singer belongs to the most interesting, and courageous, personalities of contemporary Yiddish music scene.
Her work, a cultivated, highly personal take on traditional styles… belongs to present day.”
~ Katerina Kolcova-Tlusta, Harrmonie (Czech national music industry magazine)
“Lichtenberg has a lovely, confectionary, gamin-like quality. Her soprano voice sails above and around the notes
with perfect control, weaving a luminous mystical web.”
~ Lesley Mitchell-Clarke, The Wholenote Magazine (Canada)
“Lichtenberg's powerful voice takes us on a tour of a mystical land of joys and sorrows....”
~ Spin The Globe: World Music News
“A wonderfully variagated collection... Lichtenberg is moving towards the head of the class quickly.”
~ George Robinson, The New York Jewish Week
Great musicianship and hot passionate vocals."ZING" is a song of joy!! Thanks."
~ Mitchell Mendys, WKNH KEENE, New Hampshire
"...an astounding talent."
~ Jowi Taylor, CBC Radio, Global Village
"..spirited performance... unusual topics."
~ George Robinson, The New York Jewish Week
"...impressively crosses many different genres and pulls each of beautifully ...reinvents traditional tunes and
invents new ones" ~ Lisa Cooperman, The National Post
"An important contribution to modern Jewish culture."
~ Nomi Kaston, The Canadian Folk Music Bulletin
~ Cynthia Gassner, Canadian Jewish News
"...addresses many of the issues that face us."
~ Ari Davidow, Klezmershack
"...passionate album from the versatile Czech-born singer-songwriter."
~ Geoff Chapman, Toronto Star
"Your music ...is a wonderful gift to my listeners in Philadelphia."
~ Barry Reisman, WNWR