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May 16 2023

Yiddish Theater Talk with Acclaimed Conductor Zalmen Mlotek


Join us for this exciting program with Maestro Zalmen Mlotek, both in-person in the UCLA Ostin Recording Studio or on Zoom!

Zalmen Mlotek is an internationally acclaimed conductor and accompanist whose musical prowess encompasses the Yiddish folk and theater worlds. His vision as the Artistic Director of the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene ( www.nytf.org) brought the award-winning and critically acclaimed Fidler Afn Dakh (Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish), directed by Joel Grey, to New York, for which he served as musical director and conductor. Mlotek is also a sought after collaborator for many recordings, arrangements, and projects in concert, television, and film. Mlotek received his training as a classical pianist and conductor at Juilliard School of Music, the New England Conservatory of Music, the Tanglewood Music Center, Manhattan School of Music and Mannes School of Music. Among his most notable teachers and mentors was Leonard Bernstein. He also studied conducting under Zubin Mehta and James Levine. He received his Masters in Opera and Conducting from Purchase College and his Bachelor's degree from City College.

For the stage, Mlotek introduced Yiddish and Klezmer music to Broadway audiences, as the co-creator of Those Were the Days, the first bilingual musical revue, which was honored with a Drama Desk Award and nominated for two Tony Awards. He was co-creator and musical director of the musicals On Second Avenue, which toured nationally, and The Golden Land, which toured the United States and Italy, under the sponsorship of Leonard Bernstein, to broad critical acclaim. Maestro Mlotek’s devotion to restoring Yiddish vibrancy launched classics including the world premiere of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Yentl, the Yiddish version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance Di Yam Gazlonim, and the 1923 Rumshinsky operetta, The Golden Bride, which was nominated for a Drama Desk Award and listed as a New York Times Critics Pick. He also served as the composer, arranger, and music director for Isaac Bashevis Singer’s and Robert Brustein's lauded production of Shlemiel the First, directed by David Gordon, and presented at Lincoln Center and at NYU Skirball Center. Mlotek conceived of and served as musical director for the All-Star Klezmer Extravaganza at Lincoln Center, which became In The Fiddler’s House for PBS for its award-winning series Great Performances.

In addition to Mlotek’s Yiddish and Klezmer repertoire, his achievements in regional theater productions as conductor have included: Sullivan and Gilbert; Hair, Iolanthe; No No Nannette; 1776; The Girlfriend; Butterfly Hearts; Oklahoma!; Brigadoon; and Mother Courage. Maestro Mlotek has been guest conductor with the Philadelphia Pops Orchestra, the Norwalk Symphony, the American Symphony, Westchester Symphony and The New Yiddish Chorale. For Moe Septee, he served as musical director of several gala concerts produced at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, Constitution Hall and at the Kennedy Center, where he assisted Julius Rudel. He has also served as musical director and conductor for The Williamstown Theater Festival, The Great Lakes Theater Festival, Westchester Light Opera, the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, the American Musical Theater Festival in Philadelphia and the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.

Mlotek has been consulted on for several recordings, films, and telecasts including PBS’ The Thomashefskys by Michael Tilson-Thomas and Itzhak Perlman: In the Fiddler’s House. His numerous recordings include Ghetto Tango, a restoration of wartime entertainment from World War II that comprises many unknown music theater pieces of Eastern Europe, and several releases for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

As a noted conductor and accompanist, Mlotek has appeared internationally, with Jan Peerce, Theodore Bikel, Jean Stapleton, Sheldon Harnick, Chava Alberstein, and many others. He also coached Mandy Patinkin for his recording of Mamaloshen and all the singers and conductors for the Milken Archive of Jewish Music’s award-winning series Great Songs of the American Yiddish Stage.

Mlotek is an acclaimed and sought after authority on Yiddish folk and theater music. He has edited the music for several publications including The New York Times Great Songs of the Yiddish Theater: Arranged for Voice, Piano, and Guitar; Pearls of Yiddish Song; Songs of Generations; and Mir Trogn A Gezang: Favorite Yiddish Songs, now available on line www.yiddishsongs.org . As an international leading authority in Yiddish music, he has taught master classes and performed in London, Paris, Berlin, Warsaw, Cracow, Amsterdam, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kiev, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Eilat, as well as all over the United States and Canada. He has been a guest lecturer at Columbia University; the Jewish Theological Seminary; Yeshiva University; Hebrew Union College; University of California, Berkeley; and Bar Ilan University.

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