“We didn’t expect our first festival to sell out. There are 150 volunteers here today and I hope they’ll be enough. We’ll, at least nobody fainted so far!” These were the first words I heard from one of the organizers when I arrived at Shir Madness, a beautiful music festival celebrating Jewish music from all over the world.
But it was hardly just Klezmer music and Yiddish songs — there was mostly an impressive selection of Jewish musicians representing diverse music genres: Portuguese, Gypsy, ambient, classical, tango, jazz, folk and many more. The festival spanned over five different stages, offering musical pleasures to every taste. Add to that musical workshops, documentaries, and talks, and one could barely find the time to eat all the delicious Israeli food on offer.
When I first heard about Shir Madness (shir means “song” in Hebrew), I honestly had no idea what a wonderful experience was in my lucky musical cards. First time in Melbourne after a few years in Sydney, this one-day festival drew a diverse crowd of all ages to Elsternwick. It was easy to see that a lot of love and effort was put into it. My plus one and I enjoyed going from one stage or hall to the other, getting a taste of different musical performances, and enjoying the peculiar feel of a big festival that holds a strong sense of community.
Lee Gal is a Jewish Melbournian who loves music, and is always mindful of how lucky she is to live in a city that never stops singing.