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Holy Ground: Woody Guthrie’s Yiddish Connection

Mar 8, 2015 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

| Free

Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College continues its 60th Anniversary Season with Holy Ground: Woody Guthrie’s Yiddish Connection, a multimedia presentation by Nora Guthrie, daughter of iconic American singer/songwriter Woody Guthrie. This free 90-minute-long event precedes a concert by the Grammy Award-winning Klezmatics that features songs with lyrics penned by Guthrie during the time he lived in Brooklyn, set to music by members of the Klezmatics. Holy Ground… will take place in the Woody Tanger Auditorium, located in the Brooklyn College Library building. Reservations for Holy Ground… are limited to concert ticketholders and must be made separately from concert ticket purchases by visiting BrooklynCenter.org. Seating is extremely limited for Holy Ground…, and reservations will be limited to two per ticketholder. Tickets for the 3pm concert are $30 and can be purchased at BrooklynCenter.org or by calling the box office at 718-951-4500 (Tue-Sat, 1pm-6pm).

In Holy Ground…, Nora Guthrie discusses the artistic implications of Woody’s relationship with his Jewish mother-in-law, Yiddish poet Aliza Greenblatt. The program includes a presentation of photographs, music excerpts (from the Klezmatics’ Wonder Wheel and Happy Joyous Hanukkah), writings, and artwork that illuminate their personal and creative relationship.

Guthrie and his wife Marjorie Mazia – a dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company – moved to Coney Island in 1942, in the heart of Brooklyn’s Jewish community, living across the street from his mother-in-law. Greenblatt introduced Guthrie to Jewish culture and history. Guthrie – the Oklahoma troubadour – and Greenblatt – the Jewish wordsmith – often discussed their artistic projects and critiqued each other’s works, finding common ground in their shared love of culture and social justice. Their collaboration flourished in 1940s Brooklyn, where Jewish culture was interwoven with music, modern dance, poetry, and anti-fascist, pro-labor activism.

Guthrie’s Jewish lyrics came as a surprise to Nora Guthrie, director of the Woody Guthrie Archives and Woody’s daughter. She became aware of his connection to Judaism only recently, in a chance encounter with the Klezmatics and Itzhak Perlman. Following a concert at Tanglewood, where (unbeknownst to Nora) Perlman and the band had performed some of Greenblatt’s Yiddish songs, Guthrie was introduced to Perlman as “Aliza’s granddaughter.” She recalls, “All my life, I’ve been introduced as Woody’s daughter, Arlo’s sister and Marjorie Mazia’s daughter… but this was the first time I’d ever been introduced as ‘Aliza

Greenblatt’s granddaughter!’ Then Itzhak asked me how I liked his version of Aliza’s song – I almost fell through the floor. I never knew she wrote songs – I always thought she was just my Bubbie!” The revelation about her grandmother’s history encouraged Nora Guthrie to bring her father’s Jewish songs to light, and she enlisted the Klezmatics – one of the world’s preeminent klezmer groups – to set her father’s lyrics to music.

For more information about the Klezmatics’ 3pm concert, titled Woody Guthrie’s Wonder Wheel Tour, please visit BrooklynCenter.org.

Multibuy discounts (four or more shows) save 15% off individual ticket prices (not applicable for Target Storybook Series shows). 50% discount for children ages 12 and under for select performances. Discounts also available for seniors, students, Brooklyn College faculty/staff/alumni, and groups. $10 student rush tickets available day-of-show.

Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts
Whitman Theatre at Brooklyn College
2 train to Brooklyn College/Flatbush Avenue
Online orders: BrooklynCenter.org
Box Office: 718-951-4500, Tue-Sat, 1pm-6pm

About Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts
Founded in 1954, Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College presents outstanding performing arts and arts education programs, reflective of Brooklyn’s diverse communities, at affordable prices. Each season, Brooklyn Center welcomes over 65,000 people to the 2,400 seat Walt Whitman
Theatre, including up to 45,000 schoolchildren from over 300 schools who attend their SchoolTime series, one of the largest arts-in-education programs in the borough. In 2014-15, Brooklyn Center celebrates its 60th Anniversary Season of presenting world-class performances on the Brooklyn College campus.

Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts’ programs are supported, in part, by public funding from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Brooklyn Center’s 60th Anniversary Season is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Major support for the 2014-15 season is provided by: Brooklyn College, Target, Con Edison, TD Bank, National Grid, Macy’s, the Herman Goldman Foundation, The Harkness Foundation for Dance, the Jazz Touring Network, the Alice Lawrence Foundation, the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, the Henry and Lucy Moses Fund, Inc., Shanachie Entertainment Corp., and the TD Charitable Foundation. Additional support provided by CNG Publications, The Brooklyn Eagle, WFUV-FM, and WBGO Jazz 88.3 FM. The Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott New York Brooklyn is the official hotel of Brooklyn Center’s 60th Anniversary Season. Backstage catering is graciously provided by Applebee’s.

Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts gratefully acknowledges generous support from New York State Assembly members Rhoda Jacobs, Alan Maisel, Félix Ortiz, Annette Robinson, and Helene Weinstein, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Tom Finkelpearl.


Mar 8, 2015
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Event Category:


Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts
2900 Campus Road
Brooklyn, NY 11210 United States
(718) 951-4500


Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts