Sunday, December 31, 2006

A great student concert!

Thursday night's student concert was so impressive. It is amazing to see how students who had never played together before came together in four sessions to present wonderful klezmer and Yiddish music, as well as dance. Apologies to the groups whose pictures did not make it into this collection:

Youth Orchestra

Mike Cohen Ensemble

Traditional Ensemble

Traditional Ensemble

Michael Winograd Ensemble

Community Chorus

Fidl Kapelye

Adrianne Greenbaum ensemble

Goldenshteyn Repertoire ensemble

Ray Musiker ensemble

Dobe Ressler ensemble

Mandolin Orchestra

I'm missing photos of the Electric Klezmer Band (how much do I love that there was a 90 year old in the Electric Klezmer Band!), the wonderful Interpreting Jewish Dance class's performance of Der Rebbe Elimeylekh, choreographed by the great Felix Fibich, and of some of the other ensembles. We'll fill in the blanks soon.

It was a great night.

The Lobby of Yiddishland

You can get a sense of the informal activity at KlezKamp from these views from the lobby. What you can't sense here is the constant hum of voices, the folks playing the piano and singing along, the plink of the tsimbl as Pete Rushefsky teaches his students, the laughter, and all the other sounds of KlezKamp. We're lucky that we can take over the entire hotel for KlezKamp, allowing us to create our own little Yiddishland.

The view from above:

The ride and announcements board, ably administered by our Minister of Information, Hartley Wynberg:

The displays from the craft classes, including these amazing works from Adam Whiteman's papercutting פּאפּירשניט classes:

Staff and KlezKampers hanging out:

And Mitch Mernick in his lobby base, broadcasting Radio KlezKamp 24 hours a day during KlezKamp, adding to our pleasure immeasurably. At KlezKamp, any radio on the hotel grounds can pick up Radio KlezKamp and listeners can hear klezmer music, interviews with KlezKampers, live concerts and KlezNews (put together by youngsters in the children's program). It is an amazing effort by Mitch for which we are all grateful.

It's Sunday morning-- Have you done your KlezKamp Crostic yet?

Among the features of this year's KlezKamp Zhurnal is the crostic puzzle created especially for KlezKamp by Rick Winston. The Zhurnal was in the registration folder you received upon arrival at KlezKamp. It is available in PDF form on the KlezKamp website's Zhurnal page, for those of you who weren't at KlezKamp yourself. The crostic puzzle alone may be downloaded as a pdf here. Rick Winston, a former KlezKamper himself, is the proprietor of the Savoy Theater in Montpelier, Vermont. This puzzle is a treat and is well worth the effort, even if you have never done a crostic puzzle before.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

KlezKamp in the Yiddish Forward

Read an article about KlezKamp 2006 in the Yiddish Forward here.
At home after KlezKamp and finally getting out from under the kind of sleep deprivation usually associated with religious cult indoctrinations or prisoner interrogations and a vocal croak eerily identical to Froggy the Gremlin's...
This was an exceptionally amazing KK on so many levels. While as per other years, nearly 60% of the attendees were there for the first time, a regularly reoccuring miracle. Our demagraphics have shifted in the most amazing way: we were excited to be host to more young, articulate and exciting musicians (like trumpeter Ben Homes and mandolinist Eric Stein) and to Jews who are part of more Orthodox communites where Yiddish is spoken -- and read -- on a regular basis. This broader footprint makes the context of the living Yiddish culture which we champion all the more exciting and viable. Highlights for me: playing in the German Goldenshteyn memorial concert; recording Ray Musiker's new CD in yet another converted hotel bedroom (this time room 4112) along with Aaron Alexander, Jim Guttmann, Alex Kontorovitch, Ken Maltz under the leadership of Pete Sokolow and recorded by King Django. The music (a mix of great traditional tunes, an unpublished Yiddish theater song by Abe Ellstein and some Ray originals) was amazing and we'll have the CD out later in 2007; my interview with old pal Andy Statman before a packed house. Speaking of Andy: another great high point was grabbing my banjo and sneaking away with him and Mark Rubin on bass and guitar, for a breathtaking ride through Andy's amazing bluegrass mandolin playing.... (and you haven't lived until you've heard Andy sing tenor harmony on bluegrass standards like Don Reno and Red Smiley's "I Know You're Married")...Had a blast at my book party, a gossamer thin excuse to play tunes with Rubin and Cookie and to zhloke (drink) Steve Weintraub's amazing martinis.. Thanks mucho to the jaw droppingly wonderful Faith Jones for organizing it. Of course, there are always those things I meant to do which didn't happen like a midnight screening with MIchael Wex of the new all Yiddish Hasidic heist film "Der Gesheft.' Maybe at the next KlezKamp, which, I am happy to say, we are already planning for December 23-28 2007.

A few favorite shots from KlezKamp 2006

A grandfather and grandaughter take a turn on the dance floor.

Music teacher Mark Rubin and KlezKamp founder Henry Sapoznik, rather than having a fit when someone began playing "Fiddler on the Roof" in the lobby (as most of the rest of us did), decided to join in the fun with some atypical dancing.

Dance instructor Steve Weintraub on duty as barkeep for Henry's book launch. The man has a costume for everything.

Henry's mom Pearl Sapoznik and Living Traditions associate director Sabina Brukner's Aunt Regina at lunch. These two "kvellniks" (older relatives of KlezKamp faculty) are surrogate-family to me and my partner: since we moved to New York and are far from our own families, it is the KlezKamp extended circle which has taken us in. Both Pearl and Regina have had us over at pesach, with food of a quality and magnitude that can only be hinted at. You may not have realized that the potato kasha soup the hotel served this year was made from a recipe Pearl gave the chef last year.

Jenny Romaine, leader of the teen theatre workshop, and Frank London, trumpet teacher, with the mitzvah kinder, who played a major role in the videos the teens shot. You can count on Jenny to have some of the stranger Jewish toys and costumes.

Day Four Sleep Deprivation

It's one thing when people choose a quiet moment when the lobby is relatively empty to catch a few zzz's. Jenny Romaine, who was leading the teen theatre workshop, managed to fall asleep as Anna Schnur-Fishman and Adrienne Cooper conducted an animated conversation not two feet away (below).

The Littlest Klezmorim

Thursday evening, as Kamp is winding up, is the chance to check out what other people have been doing all week. For the under-five crowd, KinderNest is a chance to make and wear costumes, and to bang on drums. Some slightly older children help out with providing the melody.

Then the older children get a chance to perform the traditional final-evening play. This year, in keeping with our Hasidic theme, the play involved a test of faith and a barrel of shmaltz herring. Thanks to Michael and Rill Wex for writing the script.

After dinner the much-anticipated teen performance takes another look at our theme. Our hosts were Sabu and Jonathan.
All the teens did amazing work writing their script, shooting and mixing footage for the video sequences, and performing as they explored I.L. Peretz's "Gilgul fun a Nign" (The Transmigration of a Melody) in ways Peretz could not have imagined.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

So busy having fun

Busy day at Kamp. Here's a shot from the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender party. There were some gay men there, really; they just left before the picture got taken.

Last night we had the book launch for the paperback edition of Henry Sapoznik's book Klezmer! Jewish Music From Old World to Our World. That's him playing with his band, the Youngers of Zion. Mark Rubin is on the cello and Cookie Seigelstein on the fiddle. The Youngers have this amazing ability to combine Jewish music with an American roots feel--they all play multiple musical styles--resulting in a warm atmosphere. Then Henry signed books and shamelessly basked in the adulation of the crowd.

Andy Statman made such a great contribution to Kamp this year. Here he is consulting with KlezKamp's technical director Laura Wernick about her mandolin hobby. He made himself completely available to everybody at all levels of learning, and his solo at the staff concert was a highlight nobody is likely to forget soon.

Meanwhile, what would be Kamp without some fire-eating? Jake and Katy Weinstein could only come for one day this year, but tonight they stilted and ate fire for the crowd. This is them rehearsing, thus no actual fire on those sticks, but the father-daughter duo is never anything less than entertaining.

Notes from the front

Here are scenes from Jill Gellerman’s PM1 Hassidic Dance class, exploring the effect of popular American dance steps in the Hassidic community. So, the bunny-hop is kosher, who knew?

The amazing Binyomim Ginsburg leads the band on vocals and wonderfully cheesy electric piano sounds.

Frank London, Dan Blacksburg, Michael Winograd, myself and Matt Temkin make up the band, which is having WAY too much fun playing for this class. I may come here to teach, but I always come away learning much more.

Salo Kluger of Simchas Sales.
It just wouldn’t be KlezKamp with out the convivial merchant of all things Yiddish.

Such a deal! Now all you need to find is something to play them on….

Michael Wex sports a new lid.

Klez Kamp: German Goldenshteyn Concert Video on YouTube

This is the first two tunes from the memorial concert for German Goldenshteyn at Klez Kamp on Monday night. It was an extraordinary experience to be there.

Thanks to Meredith Holch and Mark Rubin for their efforts in making this posting happen so quickly. We hope to have some more clips up during Kamp.



Best Staff Concert Ever

Best Staff Concert EVER! I heard that over and over last night after an amazing concert featuring KlezKamp staff playing solo turns and in ensembles covering every possible variation of Yiddish and Klezmer music.

Michael Wex emceed the program with aplomb, including his droshe on the influence of Curly and the other Stooges on Yiddish in the greater culture. All of the acts deserve mention but the stand-outs for me included an amazing clarinet solo by Andy Statman, who did the impossible at KlezKamp and achieved a totally silent, rapt audience; Elaine Hoffman-Watts, who drummed up a storm; the Frank London brass ensemble; Susan Leviton's beautiful Yiddish song; Ray Musiker's Mayn Shtetele Belz solo; Michael Wex's "I'm too sexy for Chabad" solo; so many more.

It was an incredible evening. We have recorded all the evening programs and will have them for sale at the EpesCenter and, we hope, soon on our website .

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A conumdrum indeed..

The inherent problem with this on-site blogging thing is that if you are doing your job and having a great time learning and teaching and interacting in this magical enviornmnet, there is no possible way to take a moment out and write about it.

That said, here I find myself listening to Pete Socolow's band during AM2 and showing Louis London a few things about basic HTML code, so I can drop in on the blog if only for a second.

So here's my story of the day:

"He's here....."

We were on the ballroom stage, those of us who had the privilidge of recording with German Goldenshteyn, not but a year ago at this very place, playing a tribute to his memory. About 2 tunes in, the stage lights go wacky; flashing on and off, dimming and then cutting out completely only to come back on again. Absolutely infuriating as I'm reading charts to be certian not to mess up, I glare at Bill Korich the stage manager who is hurridly running around trying to figure out what's happening. No one is messing with the switches or anything, there's what we like to call in Oklahoma a "haint" in the system. No human hand is messing with us onstage tonight.

Alex Kontorovich, who is already pretty damn spooked at the prospect of having to play the role of his mentor onstage turns around to me and says matter of factly, "He's here."


Here with us all.

A gast in shtetl

Andy Statman, the great Klezmer clarinetist/Bluegrass mandolinist is at Kamp for two days to give master classes to advanced music students. Last night he was interviewed by Henry Sapoznik in front of a packed audience in the cabaret. The two have known each other for about 2,000 years and are beginning, like an old married couple, to strangely resemble one another. That's Henry on the left and Andy on the right--or is it?

Another great thing that happens at Kamp is the confluence of different generations. Here the great Klezmer drummer Elaine Hoffman Watts discusses technique with Aaron Alexander, another drum instructor.

Last night was also the German Goldenshteyn memorial concert. Playing German's repertoire, the band that recorded on his CD, led by Alex Kontorovich, started the evening. Later they were joined by about 25 other staff members, all of whom were touched by German as a person and a teacher, and who play his repertoire. It was a fantastic show, and when, about half-way through, Henry invited the audience to get up and dance, dance teacher Steven Weintraub didn't need a second invitation. His enthusiasm for moving to Yiddish music is infectious, and soon the whole crowd was there including my new favorite KlezKamp cutie.