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Zalmen Mlotek: Biography

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Zalmen Mlotek is an internationally recognized authority on Yiddish folk and theater music and a leading figure in the Jewish theatre and concert worlds.  Mr. Mlotek was raised in a prominent Yiddish speaking family renowned for its Jewish songbook collections.  His formal training as a classical musician and conductor was at Julliard School of Music, the New England Conservatory of Music, the Tanglewood Music Center, Manhattan School of Music and Mannes School of Music.  Among his most notable teachers and mentors was Leonard Bernstein.  Mr. Mlotek also studied conducting with Zubin Mehta, James Levine and other masters of music and conducting.

Mr. Mlotek's deep roots in Yiddish culture, his elite musical education and his talent and passion for both have merged into a career that has revitalized the world of Yiddish music and theater.  Mr. Mlotek brought Yiddish- Klezmer music to Broadway and off-Broadway stages as a co-creator, music director, and conductor of Those Were the Days, the first bilingual music honored with a Drama Desk Award and nominated for two Tony Awards. He was co-creator, music director and conductor for the The Golden Land, an off-Broadway hit that toured nationally and was produced in Italy under the sponsorship of Leonard Bernstein.   Mr. Mlotek was the arranger and music director for Isaac Bashevis Singer's and Robert Brustein's acclaimed production of Shlemiel The First at Lincoln Center's Serious Fun Festival in 1995 that subsequently toured to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boston.

He is currently the Artistic Director of The National Yiddish Theater-Folksbiene, America's oldest Yiddish theater.  He instituted bi-lingual simultaneous English supertitles at all performances and Russian supertitles as well.  The National Yiddish Theater-Folksbiene is dedicated to bringing quality performances of the spoken and sung Yiddish word, with accessible translation, to new audiences around the country.  On Second Avenue, an historical musical overview of the heyday of the Yiddish Theater, was nominated for two Drama Desk awards and was performed in Los Angeles in February 2007.

In 1995 Mr. Mlotek conceived and was musical director for the first All Star Klezmer Extravaganza at Lincoln Center, filmed by PBS for Great Performances and later released on CD and video as In The Fiddler’s House with Itzhak Perlman.  Mlotek has concertized in Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Krakow, Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv and other cities in Europe and Israel and has performed extensively throughout North America.  

His many recordings include several made at the request of the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.  His tribute to wartime Yiddish Theater, which he conceived in collaboration with Adrienne Cooper is performed all over the world and is available on the Traditional Crossroads label.  Mlotek's Yiddish choral work can be heard on Mandy Patinkin's Yiddish language CD Mameloshen on Nonesuch Records.  To purchase Mr. Mlotek's CDs please check our Online Store section.

Mr. Mlotek is the conductor of The New Yiddish Chorale which performs Yiddish choral treasures from Gilbert and Sullivan in Yiddish to theater, historical and folk songs.  He has presented master classes in Yiddish art songs, folk, and theater music and taught at Columbia University, Yeshiva University, the Jewish Theological Seminary, Hebrew Union College, the University of California at Berkeley, and Bar Ilan University.

For concerts and lectures please contact Moishe Rosenfeld, President of Golden Land Concerts and Connections at Rockrosen@aol.com.