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November 28, 2010

9th Festival of Jazz and Klezmer in Paris

festival posterLancement du IXème Festival Jazz'N'Klezmer à partir du 21 novembre 2010.

This started last week and I missed it. There is an amazing line-up throughout December, though, including David Krakauer on Dec 13. Check it out!

November 26, 2010

Robinson reviews new Adrienne Cooper "Enchanted" - Hanukah must have recording

cd coverStarting to worry about what you might want to hand out this Hanukah? Well, the obvious answer is the new CD by Adrienne Cooper, Enchanted. George Robinson tells us more in this review in the Jewish Week:

New Musical Life For A Supposedly Dead Language, Thursday, November 4, 2010, George Robinson, The Jewish Week

You've already read my thoughts about referring to Yiddish with the tedious phrase, "supposedly dead language" in a post earlier this evening, but George and I are in significant agreement—this is the real deal, and an amazing recording. I'd go into more detail, but it's his turn.

Weimar Winter Workshops announced, Jan 23 - Feb 9, 2011

What is Winter Edition? It is a path-breaking institute for the study of music improvisation with an interdisciplinary and intercultural approach. Teachers and students from around the world join in an open, evolving exploration of the connections between improvisation, musical tradition, communication, cognition, the voice, the body and awareness. Led by Alan Bern and an outstanding international faculty, Winter Edition is a learning community: a place for taking new risks, acquiring new skills and information and for making new personal and professional relationships. In past years, Winter Edition has focused on how to discover musical intentions and communicate them in various group improvisations settings. In 2011 it takes a new turn in order to complement the work on musical impulses, awareness and communication with intensive work on practical skills in rhythm, harmony and melody. The theme of Winter Edition 2011 is Techné: Craft & Creativity. In ancient Greek, techné meant multi-faceted craftsmanship, the kind of knowledge necessary to make something, as opposed to purely theoretical knowledge. For many musicians today, though, "technique" (deriving from techné) means only physical mastery of their instrument. This narrowed conception reflects the loss of many skills that belong to musical mastery, such as being able to hear and freely create harmonic, melodic and rhythmic material in real time. The purpose is not to return to any particular musical language, but to increase the range and freedom of musical expression. The workshops will be led by a great team of artists and teachers with a lot of experience and many approaches to the work of integrating creativity and craft. The various workshops that make up Winter Edition are for instrumentalists and vocalists, from advanced students to professionals, who want to develop their creativity through an intensive exploration of improvisation, awareness, and deepening fundamental musical skills. For further info: winteredition.eu

NY Times celebrate KlezKamp

I am very, very tired of the "last gasp of a dying culture" articles about Yiddish and Yiddish culture. The Yiddish culture of a century ago is long gone. The Yiddish culture of modern haredi Jews is quite well, if not remotely relevant to those who celebrate this new, ongoing "Yiddishland," (taking the term from the excellent Adventures in Yiddishland (2008) by Jeffrey Shandler). In short, KlezKamp represents neither a dying culture, nor its most dominant current form. It does provide wonderful access to a culture that was, and to a wonderful, very alive current culture in which "Yiddishkeit" is a significant component. Anyway, that's my take. Here's what the NY Times has to say. You can find out for yourself, of course, next month, at KlezKamp. Why rely on the NY Times when it is so easy and rewarding to find out for yourself?

No Need to Kvetch, Yiddish Lives On in Catskills, David Goldman for The New York Times, November 25, 2010

KERHONKSON, N.Y.—In a chilled and snow-shrouded Catskills landscape, hundreds of people get together every December to try to breathe some warmth into a dying culture. … [more]

November 15, 2010

Hebrew College presents evening with Yehudi Wyner

photo from the Boston Globe, www.boston.comIf I had the time, I would wax lyrical about a special evening sponsored by Hebrew College's School of Jewish Music (SJM) this past Saturday night. Instead, I will try to honor Yehudi and Hebrew College, and perhaps whet people's appetite for more.

The event featured Professor Wyner presenting a series of art song featuring music by his father, Lazar Weiner (father and son spell their family name differently. Insert obligatory immigrant joke here). Wyner introduced many of the songs, and featured singing by a range of luminaries starting with both the President of Hebrew College (Daniel Lehmann) and head of the SJM (Cantor Dr. Brian J. Mayer) and including Cantor Louise Treitman and HC student Rick Lawrence. In addition, we got to listen to several songs by Lynn Torgove, who was also featured in a recent performance (Nov 5, 2010) of Yehudi's own pieces, performed by the Cantata Singers, at Jordan Hall. The voices were magnificent.

The thing is, Yehudi Wyner also helped us hear with his father's ears. As a typographer, for the first time I made that connection between art song—composing music that enables the ears to hear and appreciate the poet's words—and typographer, the art of printing a poet's words so that the words are noticed. In both cases, the communicative medium, whether it be music or print, is most successful when the medium is missed, but the words, the poet's intent, are heard.

Milken CD coverIndeed, as Yehudi stated, and then proved with his playing and the singing of the actual pieces by such masterful voices, Lazar Weiner had an incredible gift for writing spare music, setting the words perfectly. And this music should be studied with German and Italian and French art song—it should not be relegated to an afterthought as though of interest only to musically-educated Yiddishists. This music is wonderful world heritage, not just Yiddish heritage. Wyner talked a little bit about the brief blossoming of Yiddish art song under the patronage of Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov, in both Moscow and St. Petersburg. Wyner didn't mention the St. Petersburg school by name, but scholars, or those who know just enough to have dipped into the recent Milken Archive series will be familiar not just with Weiner's name, but the names of Joseph Achron, Joel Engel, etc.

It is almost criminal that pieces this good are heard so seldom, and I feel very fortunate to have been present to hear Yehudi's stories, along with the exquisite performances. This was not a random event. The SJM is seeking a higher profile, and I would presume would be very happy to talk with sponsors and donors who can further its programs. Starting just a few years ago, there are now 31 students and 10 graduates. All of the graduates, according to Acting Dean Mayer, found immediate employment. That, too, is a neat statement in these times. Stay tuned for a symposium on Yiddish Art Song later in 2011 which will feature scholars such as Mayer, Josh Jacobson, Hankus Netsky, and other members of a very rich Jewish music community here in Boston.

If you are interested in knowing more about the music of Weiner (and Wyner!), or the SJM, check out their website, www.hebrewcollege.edu/jewish-music-cantor. You should also contact them to get on the mailing list for the forthcoming symposium.