Monday, December 25, 2006

The Excitement is Spreading

This morning, Henry Sapoznik and I gave the first session of our class introducing Living Traditions' online digital archive project to the world, and it was a great experience. We told the story of how the project came to be, which is also contained in an excellent article in this year's KlezKamp Zhurnal. One of the best moments was when I played "before" and "after" clips of a couple of tunes. The "before" clip was from the kind of transfer of a 78 rpm record that is commonly circulated among interested parties who don't have access to professionally remastered reissues; the after clip was from the transfer made by the engineer for this project, Chris King, who is a genious at making both words and music intelligible. Jaws dropped in a very gratifying fashion.

I was also able to share images of some of the beautiful labels on these old records. Here's an example of one particular colorful image from a recording of Belf's Rumanian Orchestra made in Rumania about 1908. The writing is in cyrillic, which is the alphabet used by Russian and Ukrainian.

This project, which will make as many extant Yiddish recordings as I can locate widely available at nominal cost, feels almost as important a contribution to the preservation and dissemination of Yiddish culture as KlezKamp itself, and it was clear from the reactions of the students in class today that they immediately "got" this. There can be nothing more gratifying. I can't wait till tomorrow's class, where we're going to be playing examples of Eastern European khazns (cantors) accompanied by choruses.

Monday morning at KlezKamp

AM2 classes are going on right now as I write this. KlezKamp's first full day is well under way. Most of the crises have been taken care of and folks are gathered all over the hotel doing the business of KlezKamp, learning and sharing all aspects of Yiddish music and culture. This is happening after a night of spirited dancing, singing and music last night. The EpesCenter is almost set to open with an amazing array of klezmer and Yiddish related goods, not to mention the KK22 t-shirts and sweatshirts featuring the ever-popular faux-Magritte Dos iz nisht keyn beygl cover to the catalogue.

I'm looking forward to hearing Henry Sapoznik interview his fellow founder of the klezmer revival, Andy Statman, later this afternoon during our forshpayz period before dinner. We're really fortunate that Andy will be here teaching master classes in clarinet and mandolin. I first heard him play on the Vaserl record of new Yiddish songs which was recorded in the mid-70s and have enjoyed his playing ever since.

I'm also looking forward to the German Goldenshteyn Memorial Concert, which is tonight's evening activity. All of the musicians who recorded with German at KlezKamp last year will be playing in his memory. That recording session yielded the wonderful recording German Goldenshteyn: A Living Tradition, which is a fitting tribute to German, who died this past June. One of the best things about KlezKamp is the opportunity to meet and get to know amazing people such as German Goldenshteyn. We miss him terribly but his music was heard all over the lobby last night so he is still with us.