Gersch is the director of the Washington Jewish Music Festival, which opens on April 28.

This is the 14th Jewish Music Festival. What's going to be different or better about this rendition?SClBWe've been working over the last few years to really make this a regional celebration of Jewish music, to bring the festival to as many places and as many people as possible. For the most part, for the first decade, we stayed mostly in downtown as a small concert series. But it's really a wonderful cultural opportunity, and we wanted to give it wings, so we've bringing concerts further and further out.SClB

What about Jewish music would surprise people?

I think it's the diversity. If you love Broadway, there's a strong Jewish tradition there, and Joshua Nelson is bringing gospel into Jewish music, and you'd never think of Jewish and gospel in the same breath.SClB

When people think about music, the phrases "punk-infused Yiddish music" and "kosher gospel" don't usually come to mind. How do those genres come to pass?SClBJews have lived everywhere in the world, and their music reflects those travels. Modern Jewish artists are trying to bring all of the influences to them into their music. If you are a music lover, there's a lot to enjoy in this festival, and there's a lot to learn and be exposed to. It helps bridge the gap really nicely; you can have some great music and learn a bit about another culture.

You've worked on the music festivals for years. What are your favorite parts of them?

I love the opportunity to work with these artists. We're very much committed to nurturing young talent and rising stars. These are voices that are on the rise, and it's such a privilege to help build their audience and be there at the beginning of their careers.

- Alan Blinder