Best Little Klezmer Band in Texas brings Yiddish tradition to Cameron University

The rollicking sounds of a Russian circus and the jazzy rhythms of the Roaring ‘20s and Swingin' 30s come to Cameron University on Friday, March 26, as The Best Little Klezmer Band in Texas takes the stage at the Cameron University Theatre. The group will present a demonstration lecture/workshop at 6 p.m., following by a concert at 7:30 p.m. The Best Little Klezmer Band in Texas brings the old world to life by reviving Yiddish music from the old country and America's immigrant generation. Sponsored by the CU Department of Music, CU Lectures and Concerts Committee, the Lawton Arts and Humanities Council, the City of Lawton, Oklahoma Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, the event is open to the public at no charge.

The Best Little Klezmer Band in TexasDedicated to the presentation, preservation and revitalization of Yiddish culture through live performance, The Best Little Klezmer Band in Texas infuses its spirited performances of Jewish folk songs and traditional wedding dances, haunting, lyric melodies of East European Jews, fiery virtuosic Gypsy showpieces, and dazzling theater music with an electrifying world-beat that challenges audience members to remain in their seats. The ensemble carries Klezmer's itinerant, idea-gathering spirit with them to bear on their music, which can be raucous, hypnotic, reverent and dizzying, sometimes all in one quick-changing piece.

The band's album, "Schleppin' West," has received critical acclaim for its "...enchanting musical renderings as clever as they are invigorating," and "the Texas spin making new inroads on Jewish swing."

About Klezmer Music

The Yiddish word Klezmer, from the Hebrew "klei" (instrument) and "zemer" (music or tune) originally referred only to musical instruments. Over time, the distinction between the musicians and their instruments blurred, and the term is now used to describe the whole genre of instrumental folk music native to Yiddish-speaking Jews.

Whether one is intimate with Jewish culture or a newcomer, Klezmer music opens the door to a world rich with energy and emotion that can be understood by all. The klezmorim of Eastern Europe (Jewish musicians skilled in the art of improvisation) drew upon both the lyrical, haunting melodies of the synagogue and the boisterous dances of the Russians, Rumanians, and other surrounding cultures to create a unique and evocative style of their own. Klezmer was brought to the United States where it encountered jazz and ragtime and thrived in the early days of New York's Jewish community. With the destruction of the last synagogues of Eastern Europe and disappearance of the shtetl (Jewish ghetto) the soulful sound of Klezmer was seemingly lost and forgotten.

Then, in the late 1970s, young Jewish musicians were drawn to the music of their Eastern European heritage preserved on antique recordings rescued from grandma's attic. The earthy character of this traditional Jewish dance music includes Russian kozatskis, Ukrainian kolomeikes, and Rumanian horas. The laughing-crying quality of the violin and clarinet, alternating between exuberance and remorse, evokes a sense of laughing through one's tears.

The combination of these various styles - instrumental dance music, folk songs, theater songs, and jazzy Yiddish pop music from the 1930s-50s -create a rich, multi-dimensional experience of the lost world of Eastern European Jewish culture and vignettes of America at the turn of the century as seen through immigrant eyes.

For more information, contact the CU Department of Music at 581-2440.

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March 12, 2010

PR# 10-060