Tucson J concerts to include Celebration of Heritage, Jewish-jazz connection

Music takes center stage this month at the Tucson Jewish Community Center, ranging from Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn to the Jewish-jazz connection.

The fall Celebration of Heritage concert series begins Tuesday, Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. with “Celebrating Felix Mendelssohn and Fanny Mendelssohn,” German Jewish composers of the Romantic era. The concert will feature violinist Anna Gendler of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and pianist Alexander Tentser, one of the organizers and presenters in the 2013 and 2015 Shaol Pozez Memorial Fine Arts Symposiums on Jewish Music.

The series will continue on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. with “Celebrating Spanish, Latin and Baroque Contemporary Music” featuring Michael Lich, a classical guitarist, banjo-player, arranger and composer who has played around the globe.

“Celebrating America’s History” is the theme for Thursday, Nov. 30 at 7 p.m., presented by Richard Fuchs, who has been involved in music and lyric writing for more than 50 years. His choral setting of “Gettysburg” had its premiere performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., in 1983.

The series will conclude Sunday, Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. with “Celebrating Italian Melodies: Operatic Arias, Art Songs and Folk Music,” with mezzo-soprano Korby Myrick and her husband, pianist and composer Richard Hereld.

Along with celebrating “the multicultural mosaic of our heritage,” says Roza Simkhovich, host of the series, another goal is to promote new talent, as with the Camerata Sonora, which had its debut at the Tucson J in April. Prospective performers may contact Simkhovich at 298-6599.

“The Jewish-Jazz Connection and the Great American Songbook: A Musical Review Concert” brings Robin Bessier’s Jazz Trio to the J on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at 6:30 p.m.

“The concept for this concert began germinating several years ago, when a friend told me the story of how his Jewish great-grandmother and grandfather, who lived in New Orleans, took Louis Armstrong under their wing when he was a youngster. As the story goes, they bought Louis his first trumpet, and for the rest of his life he wore a Star of David and ate matzah (his comfort food) after every performance,” says Bessier, who promises to continue the story at the concert.

Tickets for each performance in the Celebration of Heritage series are $10. Tucson J members may purchase tickets for all four concerts for $36.

Tickets for “The Jewish-Jazz Connection” are $10 for members, $12 for nonmembers.

Tickets are available at or 299-3000.