Yiddish stars hold gala to remember Adrienne Cooper

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Stars of contemporary Yiddish culture turned out in New York for an emotional gala memorial concert honoring Yiddish diva Adrienne Cooper, an influential performer, teacher and composer.

Cooper, who was born and raised in Oakland, died a year ago of cancer at 65. She is buried in Lafayette’s Oakmont Memorial Park.

Adrienne Cooper

A powerful stage presence, Cooper worked at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in the 1970s and 1980s, and in 1985, with Henry Sapoznik, co-founded KlezKamp, an annual, multigenerational Yiddish folk arts program that takes place in December.

Called “a kholem” — “dream” in Yiddish — the memorial concert was held Dec. 29 at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College in New York and streamed live on the Internet.

Its lineup included pioneers of the klezmer and Yiddish music revival such as the Klezmatics, Zalmen Mlotek, Michael Alpert, Eleanor Reissa, Frank London and Henry Sapoznik, as well as younger performers, such as DJ Socalled, Daniel Kahn and Michael Winograd, who have channeled traditional Jewish roots music into contemporary art forms.

Among others who appeared were Cooper’s partner, the pianist Marilyn Lerner; her daughter, the singer Sarah Gordon; the poet Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman, who in 2005 became the first Yiddish poet or musical figure to receive a National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellowship; and Yiddishist writer and humorist Michael Wex. — jta