Klezmania Adds a Musical Multicultural Kick: Gypsy Music

The tradition of borrowing from other traditions has long been an essential practice for the wandering Jewish people.

Klezmania, for example, proudly carries on the 20th century tradition of Jewish families enjoying Chinese food on the Christian holiday of Christmas. Our annual Christmas Eve Party – celebrated with a klezmer concert and traditional Chinese food – gets another ethnic jolt with this year’s addition of music from the robust Gypsy tradition.

Klezmer music borrowed from a variety of sources. Most significantly, Klezmer enjoyed long geographic proximity to gypsy music, as the Roma people and the Jewish people of Eastern Europe and the Balkans shared instruments, traded melodies, and enjoyed a similar affinity for minor notes and keys.

In the 1980s, musicologist became interested in the historical relationship between the itinerate Klezmorim – families of musicians who traveled from town to village to play for weddings and celebrations – and the nomadic Roma people known for their musical tradition and prowess. Both peoples lived on the margins of mainstream European society, were victims of prejudice, and expressed the sorrows and joys of their people in their music.

A revival of interest in Klezmer in Europe and America also began in the 1980s, with a resurgence of interest in the music of the Roma people following after the German unification in 1989, as ethnic and world music began to find favor in the new global, multicultural embrace of the arts.

A decade later, as musicians were busy creating all kinds of fusions, the klezmer/gypsy hybrid was formed, with several bands leading the craze. Balkan Beat became a DJ phenomenon. The Amsterdam Klezmer Band played “traditional Yiddish music mixed with Balkan, Gypsy and Russian.” The Balcony Players moved from klezmer to Gypsy/Balkan. The Barcelona Gipsy Klezmer Orchestra formed in 2012. The Other Europeans, Balkano, and Kapelsky are all popular fusions of klezmer and Roma traditions.

In recognition of this strong connections between two vibrant musical cultures, the third annual Klezmania will feature Sheldon Sand’s Klezmer Consort along with Swing St. Vrain, a gypsy jazz ensemble based in Longmont. Formerly known as The Hot Club of Boulder, SSV plays “le jazz hot” in style of Django Reinhardt. The group draws material from a broad variety of sources, including Latin, choro, klezmer, and carefully selected pop tunes.

Instrumentation includes Selmer and DiMauro style guitars, archtop jazz guitars, mandolin, Greek bouzouki, upright bass, male and female vocals in English, French, Spanish, and Yiddish. As The Hot Club of Boulder the group produced three gypsy jazz festivals in Longmont, played the Longmont Jazz Festival several times, and appeared at the first Djangofest Colorado in Crested Butte.

The band features Barron Beshoar on guitar, mandolin, Greek bouzouki, vocals; Kaila Fluss on multi lingual soprano vocals; Willie Gammell on rhythm guitar; and Ryne Meese on upright bass.

Tickets to Klezmania:

Monday, December 24 | Dinner at 5:45 pm | Concert at 7:00 pm

Concert only: $25 in advance | $30 at the door | Concert and Dinner: $50 in advance only
Student $10 concert only | Student $35 concert and dinner in advance only

Advance Concert Ticket Sales Close at 5:00 pm on December 24th
Dinner ticket reservations close on December 22.
A Kosher meal is available. Please see the registration form.


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About Kathryn Bernheimer

Founding Director of the Boulder Jewish Film Festival, Boulder JCC. The former film and theater critic for the Boulder Daily Camera, Kathryn is the author of "The Fifty Greatest Jewish Movies" and "The Fifty Funniest Films of All Time." She was also Director of Menorah and ACE at the J from 2003 through August, 2019.

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