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Behind the scenes with… the Ma’ayan Band

Folk Tunes for a New-Age Decade

The Ma’ayan Band

Richly diverse arts and musical backgrounds with the oral history and poetry inherent in the Psalms as inspiration for their lyrics, the Ma’ayan Band was formed in 2016 by five friends. Their ethos celebrates community with interdependency and connectivity broadly fostered amongst people of all backgrounds. The repertoire is drawn from ancient Jewish traditional tunes.

“We want  what we feel, real love, heart to heart, to come across.”

Alexey Reznik, guitarist for the Ma’ayan Band
Alexey Reznik, guitarist for the Ma’ayan Band

And how they channel their creative forces could be a hallmark for the dawning of our new-age decade.  Starting first as friends, Dima Graziani, drummer and bassist, Yuri Kaplonovich, guitarist, composer and lyricist, Alexey Reznik, guitarist and vocalist, with  his wife, Dina Levin who is their featured vocalist, and Ernest Itzkovich, accordionist, this group has evolved organically. 

Three of them, Yuri, Dima, and Alexey, collaborate with the ideas, Yuri starting with the melody and lyrics, over to Dima who develops it further, and then to Alexey who edits.  The same process happens with the melody.  Dima does a lot of the arrangements, plays the bass, keys, guitar, percussion, and sings.  While many of the instruments are recognizable, such as the guitar, bass, and accordion,  others, such as the oud, a stringed instrument, and frame drum, are part of the ethnic sound of Ma’ayan Band.

The Ma’ayan Band
The Ma’ayan Band

From the simple enjoyments of jamming when their families got together, it then progressed to different opportunities for the group.  One particularly significant opportunity presented itself when Dima knew somebody who knew somebody and so it unfolded.  The production house behind Sounds of Canada put the Ma’ayan Band in touch with the right people.

This unique project showcased music from the different ethnic groups and nationalities in Canada.  Thus, this group found themselves as a point of interest in the broad Canadian landscape of musical styles and genres for Sounds of Canada’s Season 3 to represent Jewish Folk Music. Their half-hour segment was broadcast on OMNI TV in November 2020.

Ma’ayan Band has had their own YouTube channel since 2016, which is developing a unique creative life and following, currently at over two million views.  As the description on their YouTube page states… What brings them (Ma’ayan Band) together is the desire to deliver the message of unity and connection no matter the differences between people.

One particular song, Shalom Aleichem, is doing very well.  It is a musical prayer with lyrics from the Kabbalists of Safed, 16th Century  with the music of Israel Goldfarb, 1918. “It was the first song we recorded together… it felt strong, magical. There is an inner power, and listeners get it.”

With 1.8 million views of this song in almost four years, there obviously is a magnetism that resonates with people.  There have been comments such as, ‘we don’t understand the lyrics but it melts our hearts’. 

Shalom Aleichem – שלום עליכם – Ma’ayan Band

Dina comments that since they are virtual now, “it is even more important not to stop, to continue.”  Their collaboration with other friends and the live broadcasts the group does with different guests helps to create momentum.   Some work with members of the Lemon Bucket Orkestra or with particular friends from Ukraine, Armenia, and Georgia all enrich the group’s process and repertoire. Dima elaborates on the intimacy of their live events which leads to more connections with the audience through discussion.

This same theme of knowing people, feeling connected in your neighbourhood with the regular exchanges of everyday  life, helps to create that sense of community within a metropolitan area, such as  Toronto,  where most of the members of the Ma’ayan Band liveYou may contact the group at maayanband@gmail.com, visit their website and follow them on Facebook.

Alexey Reznik (left) , guitarist for the Ma’ayan Band, and Yuri Kaplonovich (right), guitarist, composer and lyricist for the  Ma’ayan Band
Alexey Reznik (left) , guitarist for the Ma’ayan Band, and Yuri Kaplonovich (right), guitarist, composer and lyricist for the  Ma’ayan Band

While Yuri Kaplonovich works in nearby Georgetown, he and his family live in Caledon.  He was recently featured as an artist in Peel Weekly News in my column, Thumbnail Sketches©.  It is evident that the Ma’ayan Band is an important creative outlet with like-minded friends for him.  An active member of Headwaters Arts, Yuri’s work often hangs in various shows in their gallery at the Alton Mill Arts Centre.

The microcosm of the Ma’ayan Band, with their diversity of languages, different backgrounds and countries of origin, aptly shows the power of what Yuri says so simply, “People know from a long time ago, love is what connects us.” 

Is it not time then, in this brave new decade, to consider our connections, each one with the other?


E.Connie Munson: Local writer, photographer, and artist covers the arts and cultural scene to share the passion and joy of other creatives and makers. To get in touch with her, e-mail ellie73m@gmail.com.


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