It’s festival season!

Chicago is the place to be for Jewish music in May, June and July. There is almost too much good stuff coming up- that should be our biggest problem!

IsraFest/Israeli Jazz & World Music Festival May 6-17
The second Israeli Jazz & (now) World Music Festival kicks off on May 6 with world-music sensation Mika Karni in free celebrations at Daley Plaza and the Chicago Cultural Center. A total of eight artists will perform at nine venues, and many of the shows are free, including: Reut Regev (Chicago Cultural Center); Hadar Noiberg (Old Town School of Folk Music); and Mattan Klein (Beth Shalom and Temple Sholom). City Winery then hosts Keren Ann and Avishai Cohen. Last up are Idan Raichel (Auditorium Theater debut) and Anat Cohen (Green Mill). [The 2014 Israeli Jazz & World Music Festival is presented by the Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.]

The Greater Chicago Jewish Festival, June 8
This juggernaut of a festival, with attendance touching the 40,000 mark, comes by in every even-numbered year. This year, the ridiculously talented (and also just plain ridiculous) Peter Himmelman is the headliner. Local hero Edon Pinchot will be there, and because this year the Festival is part of IsraFest, Israeli acts Yemen Blues and Maya Johanna will perform. Also: Rabbi Joe Black, Banjos and Bagels, Mishkan… and Chicago's own Kol Sasson, Listen Up!, Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, and Ed Holstein… plus Tracy Friend, Joel Frankel, Sheldon Low for "der kinder." [JUF is a sponsor.]

Following in the footsteps of Jewish violin virtuosi Yacha Heifetz, Yehudi Menuin and Isaac Stern are four of today's top violinists, all gracing the Ravinia stage this season: Pinchas Zukerman, with his ChamberPlayers, Jun 21; Peter Serkin with the Orion ensemble, July 23; Joshua Bell, July 26; and Itzhak Perlman (with Yitzchak Meir Helfgot) Aug 18. Plus, on piano, Misha & Cipa Dichter, Sep 11.

Jazzing up the Independence Day night will be Dave Koz, July 4, soon followed by Mandy Patinkin, July 6. Alt-rock is represented by Jewish frontmen Adam Durtiz, whose band Counting Crows performs on July 14; and scion of Zion Jakob Dylan, leading his Wallflowers (on a double bill with Train) Aug 22-23. Equally regarded for his insighful originals and clever covers is Matt Nathanson, July 21.

Even when the musicians aren't Jewish, the composers might be. That's the case with West Side Story, the collaboration of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, shown on giant screens on the lawn, with the CSO performing the soundtrack live, on July 17-18. A tribute to Lerner & Loewe- whose Broadway hits include My Fair Lady, Camelot, and Brigadoon, is performed on July 20. And Gershwin's opus Rhapsody in Blue soars again on July 29.

2014 looks like a banner year in Chicago for both Jewish music and Jews in music. Better get your tickets now!

Reflections from your editor, Cindy Sher, on people living their Jewish lives each day. ... Read More

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