Community Coordinators are an integral part of the Northwest Folklife’s mission and vision to celebrate, share, and participate in the evolving traditions of the Pacific Northwest. Their talent, time and expertise as a Community Coordinator create opportunities for folks of the Pacific Northwest to participate in arts experiences and learn about the living traditions that occur daily in our big neighborhood.
Today, we introduce you to performer, musician, Friend of Folklife, and former board member Bernice Maslan. In addition to coordinating the Big Jewish Show at the Northwest Folklife festival, you can find Bernice playing clarinet with the Ballard Sedentary Sousa Band or hosting one of the many Klezmer bands she organizes throughout the city.
What cultural traditions do you or your group share with the greater community?
We present various flavors of Jewish music, including klezmer, vocal, occasionally singer-songwriters, Israeli, comedy. We have a strong emphasis on Klezmer music.
What does it mean to you and to your community to be connected to Northwest Folklife and how long have you been involved? What impact has the organization made on your community?
My co-coordinator Harvey Niebulski and I have been connected to NWFL for a long time. Personally, I served on the board for about 10 years and Harvey is still on the board. I’ve attended since 1973. The Big Jewish Show has been a part of almost all the Folklife festivals since at least 2001. I’m not sure how long before that. I know many people look forward to the Big Jewish Show and our music.
How do you interact with Northwest Folklife outside of the Northwest Folklife Festival?
My son is president of the board. I participate in fundraisers from the contradance and folkdance communities, as well as making many many latkes for a Hanukah fundraiser for Folklife hosted by JoAnne Rudo.
Please share a performance memory connected to Northwest Folklife that had an impact on you?
Certainly performing as part of the Big Jewish Show has always been a thrill, whether part of the Klezmer Balabustas, Klez Chaos, or the KlezKidz. I remember sitting in the audience of Big Jewish Shows and being knocked out by the clarinet artistry of Liz Dreisbach and Carl Shutoff. Now I am delighted to know many of the musicians personally.
What specific community in the Northwest do you hail from?
I live in the Greenwood district.
Please share the Northwest Folklife events you have contributed programming for?
The Big Jewish Show! and any ancillary klezmer showcases