The New York Klezmer Series (formerly East Village Klezmer Series) has been bringing wonderful Klezmer Music and Yiddish Dance to NYC since 2010. Originally The East Village Klezmer Series, we have a new home in the Upper West Side – at the historic Stephen Wise Free Synagogue – beginning in February 2013. We will present concerts, music and dance workshops and open jam sessions in an intimate and beautiful setting. Founded and curated by Aaron Alexander (at the invitation of Rabbi Greg Wall) and inspired by the week-long Yiddish Culture events, Klez Kamp, and Klez Kanada, the NYKS aspires to present the music in a respectful setting and allow the artists freedom to present their vision. The series consistently presents world class artists in an intimate setting, in addition to providing education and a place for all to come and participate in this wonderful and often neglected part of Jewish and American Culture.
Klezmer music is the instrumental party music of the Jewish People from Eastern Europe – (Ashkenazim). It’s origins are in the 16th century, and it has evolved and assimilated local influences (Russian, Romanian, Ottoman, Hungarian etc.) wherever Ashkenazim have lived since. It is essentially Yiddish music – the instrumental music of people who spoke (and speak) Yiddish. It came to America with the immigration of Jews from Eastern Europe beginning in late 19th century, and has had a wonderful history in America, where it also assimilated American music traditions. Hasidic nigunim (wordless melodies), Yiddish theater music and Yiddish folk song are all related and will be represented at the series.
Tantsheiser (Dance Parties): Once a month we will present, along with the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, a Tantshoyz – Yiddish dance party, with a renowned Yiddish Dance specialist, and a professional dance band. Past dance leaders have included Michael Alpert, Steve Weintraub, Avia Moore, and Deborah Strauss. We also will have a Yiddish Dance class every Tuesday, led by Steven Weintraub – the Pied Piper of Yiddish Dance, accompanied often by Christina Crowder on Accordion.
We will have a Klezmer Workshop every Tuesday, led by Aaron Alexander, and/or the concert artist of the day, depending on availability. This workshop has already been running for over a year and has a devoted following. We work on repertoire, style, form and ornamentation. Often the participants have an opportunity to play the current songs at the jam session after the concert.
Concert artists will include: Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All-Stars, Alicia Svigals w/Patrick Farrell, Elaine and Susan Hoffman-Watts, Michael Winograd’s “Leviticus”, Strauss/Warschauer Duo, Jake Shulman-Ment, Margot Leverett & Klezmer Mountain Boys, Eve Sicular’s “Metropolitan Klezmer”, Lisa n Sruli Family Band, Aaron Alexander & the Klez Messengers, Dmitri Slepovitch’s “Litvakus”, Levitt Legacy Band, and many others.
In addition we will begin this year a new program – New York Kidz Klezmer, which will be geared toward teens and tweens. Once a week, (Tues. from 4-5pm) musicians will get together to learn, rehearse music and then perform in local nursing homes, programs for children with special needs and other community based events. This will be co-led by Alexander & Zach Mayer – a wonderful saxophonist who is great with kids, leads the teens program at Klez Kanada, and has grown up inside this culture.
We welcome musicians in fifth grade and up, with at least one year of instrument instruction and the ability to play a chromatic scale, read music, and play in a band setting with other musicians.
New York Klezmer Series is hosted by and receives support from the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue.
We are also supported by The Center for Traditional Music and Dance.