First broadcast December 19, 2003

Celebrating Chanukah/In Memoriam: Johnny Cunningham

10 p.m. to Midnight Host: Steve Winters

As in life, this show’s content mixes joy with sadness.

There’s joy because it’s the first night of Chanukah, the eight day Jewish celebration in honor of the Jewish victory of the Maccabees over the Syrians, the reclaiming of the Temple in Jerusalem and the miracle of the oil lasting for 8 days to rededicate the temple.

Our Chanukah Party featured a return to a portion of the Klezmer Conservatory Band’s classic album “Oy Chanukah!” on Rounder Records and a new recording by klezmer clarinet virtuoso Margot Leverett and the gifted Klezmer Mountain Boys (Kenny Kosek, Barry Mitterhoff, Joe Selly and Marty Confurius), who will be making their Connecticut debut the following night in Bridgeport.

There’s sadness because of the untimely death at age 46 of Celtic fiddle master, producer and composer Johnny Cunningham on Dec. 15. Cunningham, who began playing fiddle at age 7 and with the landmark Celtic revival group Silly Wizard in his early teens, was a prime exponent of Celtic music, lauded for his incredible speed and dexterity playing reels and jigs and his sensitivity in offering airs and slow tunes. He also played with Relativity, Nightnoise, the Raindogs and as part of the Celtic Fiddle Festival.

Cunningham was a “larger-than-life” man with a wild sense of humor and raucous nature on stage, but also acclaimed for his work as a producer and composer, most notably his music and lyrics for “Peter and Wendy,” an adaptation of the Peter Pan story by Mabou Mines theater company for which he shared an Obie Award.

Celebrating Chanukah

  • Artist, "Title", Album, Label

  • Short Sisters, “Chanukah Chase”, Fast Folk Musical Magazine, October 1986

  • Herdman, Hills & Mangsen, “Hanerot Halalu”, Voices Of Winter, Gadfly

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  • Klezmer Conservatory Band, “A Happy Night In Paradise”, “Chanukah The Festival Of Lights”,

  • “Chassidim Dance”, “Celebrating In The Shtetl”, “The Bosporus”, “Jewish Heroines”, “Dona Dona”

  • “Memories Of Klezmorim”, “A Young Man From Poland”, “Klezmorim At Chanukah”, “Klezzified”

  • Oy Chanukah!, Rounder, ,

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  • Margot Leverett & The Klezmer Mountain Boys, “Kentucky Dance Medley: Bill Monroe Meets Sid, ,

  • Beckerman”, “Lonesome Fiddle Blues: For Jews”, “F Major Bulgar”, “A Redl And A Volich”, Margot

  • Leverett & The Klezmer Mountains Boys, Traditional Crossroads, ,

    In Memoriam: Johnny Cunningham

  • Johnny Cunningham, “Waulkin’ O’ The Fauld”, Fair Warning, Green Linnet

  • Johnny & Phil Cunningham, “Reels Medley”, Silly Wizard: Live In America, Green Linnet

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  • Johnny Cunningham, “Recitation of D.H. Lawrence’s God Is Born”, “I Saw Three Ships/Bells No Bells”,

  • “In Excelsis Deo”, The Soul Of Christmas, Upaya,

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  • Ensemble, “Two Is The Beginning Of End/On These Magic Shores”, “Darling’s Waltz”, “Star Lullaby”

  • Peter & Wendy, Allula, ,

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  • Johnny Cunningham, “Archibald McDonald Of Keppoch”, Fair Warning, Green Linnet

  • Celtic Fiddle Festival, “The Dark Island”, Encore, Green Linnet