In 2012, revered Crete-based composer-performers Ross Daly and Kelly Thoma of Labyrinth joined Teslim (then, just Kaila Flexer and Gari Hegedus) and powerhouse female vocal ensemble Kitka in a variety of live concert programs and musical workshops throughout California.
This project was supported, in part, by generous grants from Meet the Composer, American Composers Forum, The Musical Grant Program (a program of San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music), Individual Artist and Organizational Assistance Grants from the City of Oakland Cultural Funding Program, The California Arts Council’s Creating Public Value Program, and the University of California Santa Barbara’s James and Sarah Argyropoulos Endowment in Hellenic Studies.
Click here for more media from the project!
Pomegranates and Figs: A Feast Of Jewish Music
This Jewish music and cultural event was an extension of Klezmer Mania! It sought to include a wider variety of Jewish music including Sephardic and original music. Pomegranates & Figs played at Zellerbach Hall and The Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, Berkeley, CA between 2010-2012.
The Oakland Folkharmonic is Shira Kammen and Kaila Flexer’s string ensemble featuring the two of them plus Kyla Danysh and sisters Rachel and Danielle Taylor on a variety of stringed instruments including violin, viola, vielle and tarhui. The repertoire of this ensemble ranges from traditional modal music of Greece, Turkey and the Middle East to medieval music to original compositions by Flexer, Kammen, Ross Daly and Kelly Thoma.
The ensemble performed around the Bay Area in 2013.
Through the generous funding of the City of Oakland’s Cultural Funding Program and sponsored by The Jewish Music Festival, Berkeley, Ladder of Gold was an Oakland-based project that featured several events centering around Teslim playing Jewish and original repertoire. The project culminated in a CD release concert and featured several top-notch Bay Area musicians including violinists Shira Kammen, Julian Smedley, Leah Wollenberg, harpist Liza Wallace and percussion virtuoso Tobias Roberson.
All Ladder of Gold events took place in Oakland, CA in March of 2008:
- Lecture/Demonstration: Revival of Sephardic music with scholar Francesco Spagnolo and Teslim held at Temple Sinai
- Free Teslim Concert at Eastmont Library, Eastmont Town Center
- Hands-on workshop for intermediate to advanced instrumentalists. Sephardic repertoire. Oakland Public Conservatory
- Teslim CD Release Concert at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland
Through the support and funding of the Creative Work Fund, Oakland City Council and Oakland’s Cultural Funding Program, Kaila Flexer, along with a corps of professional folk musicians (Nicolai Prisacar, Michele Simon, and Gari Hegedus) and two Crowden music faculty (Lisa Grodin and Ken Durling) began the Xylem Folkestra Project with the 76 fourth through eighth grade violinists, violists, cellists, pianists and singers at the Crowden School. These young string players learned traditional Balkan material and Flexer’s Balkan-inspired original compositions. Of these students, thirteen sixth through eighth grade Crowden students met intensively with Flexer to learn a concert set and dance set of this repertoire. The Xylem Folkestra performed three very successful Bay Area concerts (Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco) in February of 2006.
Kaila Flexer founded and produced Klezmer Mania!, a festival of Jewish music and culture. The first event was held in 1989 at the Julia Morgan Theater (capacity 500) at which several ensembles debuted, including a quintet of clarinets, and a 90-piece klezmer orchestra. The festival moved to several locations over the years including Scottish Rite Temple in Oakland; Calvin Simmons Theater, Oakland; Temple Emanu-El, San Francisco before settling for its last four years at Berkeley’s Zellberbach Hall (capacity 2,000) where family matinee and evening performances were presented by Cal Performances. At some Klezmer Mania events, there were as many as 50 vendors, selling everything from latkes to mezzuzot and at its peak, the corps of volunteers numbered over 100!
Groups featured in Klezmer Mania! over the years included Finjan, David Krakhauer, Judy Frankel, The Flying Bulgars, Margot Leverett, Brave Old World, KITKA, San Francisco Klezmer Experience, Zaatar, the East Bay Bulgariots, a marimba ensemble called Shtikeleh and many others. These festivals always included theatrical interludes between musical acts on which we worked collaboratively with directors Ellen Chang, Dan Chumley (San Francisco Mime Troupe), writers Joan Holden (San Francisco Mime Troupe), writer/actors Sara Felder and Sherry Glaser, comedian Ed Krasnick and many others. For the last several years eight-foot tall puppets (inhabited by actors Joan and Dan Mankin) named Moishe and Leah emceed the show.
Personnel included George Brooks, saxophones, Nikolai Prisakar, accordion, Bob Lipton, tuba, Petur Iliev, tupan, and KF, violin
Kaila’s second project on Nashville label Compass Records, released in 2006.
Personnel includes Joel Davel, marimba, Nicolai Prisacar, accordion, Cindy Browne, double bass, Jason Lewis, drums and Kaila on fiddle. Mostly originals by Flexer. Guest appearances by pianist Jovino Santos Neto and then-husband Mike Marshall, mandolin.
Flexer’s first recording with her good friend Julian Smedley on violin, Joel Davel, marimba and Cindy Browne, bass.
This ensemble created one CD called Listen for Compass Records, which was released in 1995.Personnel included Julian Smedley, violin, KF, violin, Joel Davel, marimba, Cindy Browne, bass. This ensemble created one CD called Listen for Compass Records.