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Klezmer Evening  in Prague and Pilsen (Plzen):
Klezmer from four countries in the Futurum and in Plzen Synagogue

The Day of Exile / devet bran-festival


Bruskin / Klezmorim


Pollak, Sommerfeld

Ensemble Klezmer

Prague - Under strict security at the famous Futurum Theater, an evening replete with contradictions was provided by four Central European klezmer groups: Kroke from Kracow, Klezmorim from Munich, Ensemble Klesmer from Vienna and  Katja Kolcova with Umelci v hladoveni from Prague. The musical spectrum ranged from classical klezmer, to jazz and swing components, all the way to modern pop versions of ancient prayers.

Kroke, the Yiddish word for Kracow, led in their performance with melancholic, quasi-morbid notes: not dance-along music, not for weddings or bar mitzvahs. Kroke provides music for the soul, a prayer. The three musicians play a musical kaddish, hitherto unknown sounds in Yiddish music, original compositions, deeply rooted in old Yiddish cultural tradition and perhaps the very fact that it is presented in such an unconventional way is proof of the tradition's continuity.

Klezmorim from Munich,sadly without their lead singer who was ill, cautiously combines  traditional klezmer music with elements of modern jazz. Andreas Arnold's clarinette relates joy and sadness; it laughs and sings; it cries and is pensive and then once again very lively. The four musicians at once convey to their audience their own joy in playing. Unfortunately, the set time for each group was limited to a half hour. Ten minutes longer and Klezmorim would have had everyone dancing.

The Viennese Ensemble Klesmer led by Leon Pollak is resolute in cultivating traditional Yiddish folk music with the utmost authenticity. Performed in the Viennese cafi style, prominence is afforded to emotion, meditative reverie and soulful fusion.

Katja Kolcova and Umelci v hladoveni ("the starving artists") - the evening's most contradictory group. A blind singer with a charismatic voice, dressed in black, stands on stage and begins: "Esa Eynay el heHarim, me'ayin yavo 'Esri".
(I raise my eyes to the heights, whence cometh my support).
More psalms and liturgical songs follow, performed with a strong voice and heartfelt: "From the depths of my soul I call to You". Accompanied by a pop group that was so enthusiastic, that sometimes it was much louder then the already very strong voice of the singer.

In the "Velka Synagoga" in Pilsen, the West Bohemian public was also afforded the opportunity of experiencing this event. Those who missed both performances will have to wait for the broadcast on Czech television (Ceska Televize).

Katharina Kolcova

haGalil onLine 22-11-2000

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