The Klezmatics are world-renowned and Grammy-winning superstars of the klezmer world. They erupted out of New York City’s East Village in 1986 and revitalized klezmer for the new century with music that is steeped in Eastern European Jewish tradition and spirituality, while incorporating contemporary themes such as human rights and anti-fundamentalism with eclectic musical influences including Arab, African, Latin and Balkan rhythms, jazz and punk.
Since their emergence more than 25 years ago, the Grammy Award-winning Klezmatics have raised the bar for Eastern European Jewish music, made aesthetically, politically and musically rich recordings, inspired future generations, created a large body of work that is enduring, and helped to change the face of contemporary Yiddish culture.
In addition to the renowned concerts of the core Klezmatics sextet, since 2003 the group has also performed a number of symphonic concerts in conjunction with top international ensembles such as Budapest’s Danubia Symphony Orchestra and Germany’s Jenaer Philharmonie. “Symphonic Klezmatics” features the band’s classic songs such as “Rakhmones/St. John’s Nign,” “Kats un Moyz,” “Di Gayster,” “Shnirele, Perele,” “Evening Shades” and “Tepel,” newly orchestrated versions of material from the group’s Grammy-winning Wonder Wheel album—with lyrics by Woody Guthrie and music by the Klezmatics—as well as Hanukkah songs for the holiday season.
The Klezmatics’ concerts with symphonic orchestra are engaging, challenging, far-reaching and accessible. The orchestral arrangements of the group’s repertoire reflect the diversity of the band. The music is at turns festive and spiritual, ancient and modern. The orchestra joins the Klezmatics in festive wedding dances, spiritual hymns and modern jazz-inflected arrangements. The Klezmatics have played many of the world’s great concert halls, including Carnegie Hall, Disney Hall, Town Hall and UCLA Live (Royce Hall) in the United States and Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Philharmonic Hall (Warsaw) and Konzerthaus (Vienna) in Europe.
In addition to fans of Jewish music and klezmer, “Symphonic Klezmatics” is attractive to a wide spectrum of audiences: people who seek alternative, ethnic and “downtown” New York sounds, and those looking for a more modern take on the tried-and-true “pops” concert that will introduce audiences to the larger orchestral repertoire.
Klezmatics with Orchestra Program: (original)
For almost 20 years, The Klezmatics have stood at the crossroads of tradition and innovation. Their recordings, alone and with Itzhak Perlman and others, both redefined the Klezmer tradition and became the standard by which all contemporary Klezmer bands are judged. It is no surprise that their concert with symphonic orchestra is as interesting, challenging, far-reaching and accessible as their concerts. The original compositions and arrangements of their repertoire have been written by some of the most interesting of today's composers, who bring in elements from Wagner and Strauss to Cage and Corrigliano. Award-winning composer Anne LeBaron's Fleeting Shades is, of all things, a Concerto Grosso reinterpretation of the American hymn You Are My Sunshine. The diversity of the composers reflects the diversity of the band and their aesthetic. This concert is unique, challenging and fun. The music as at turns festive and spiritual, ancient and modern. The orchestra gets to be featured as well as join the Klezmatics in festive wedding dances, spiritual hymns and modern Jazzy compositions. In addition to Jewish music and Klezmer fans, this concert is attractive to a wide spectrum of audiences: people interested in new music, alternative and ethnic and 'downtown' New York sounds, and even people looking for a more interesting sort of 'pops' concert that will turn people on to the larger orchestral repertoire.
Kats un Moys - by Frank London orchestrated by William Ware III
Rakhmones / St. John's Nign - by Frank London, Lorin Sklamberg, and William Ware III
Fleeting Shades - by Anne LeBaron (original contemporary composition for Klezmatics)
Sirba Matey Matey - Matt Darriau orchestrated by Doug Wieselman
Waiting Still / Umetik - Lisa gutkin / Chava Alberstein
Di Gayster - Matt Darriau
Shnirele Perele - Klezmatics orchestrated by Anthony Coleman
Tepl - Traditional - featuroing the orchestras brass section
In the course of over twenty years they have released nine albums of wild, spiritual, provocative, reflective, and ecstatically danceable music, forever redefining and transcending traditional labels.
The Klezmatics have collaborated with numerous musical luminaries including folk hero Arlo Guthrie, classical legend Itzhak Perlman, Israeli pop icons Chava Albertstein and Ehud Banay, beat poet Allen Ginsberg, The Master Musicians of Jajouka, the Ben Folds Five, and Kosher Gospel singer Joshua Nelson.
Their work has extended to numerous theater, film, dance and television projects, including Pulitzer Prize Winning playwright Tony Kushner’s “A Dybbuk” and “It’s An Undoing World.” and Pilobolus Dance Theatre’s “Davenen.”
The Klezmatics have reached millions through performances and features on CBS’s “Late Night with David Letterman,” PBS’ “Great Performances,” BBC’s “Rhythms of the World,” BBC’s “John Peel Show,” various NPR programs (“A Prairie Home Companion” with Garrison Keillor, “New Sounds Live” and “Soundcheck”), CBS’s “Nightwatch,” FOX’s “After Breakfast,” “MTV News,” and “Sex and the City.” Additionally, their song “NY Psycho Freyelkhs” is a theme song for Air America Radio’s “The Al Franken Show.”
They have performed in over twenty countries at some of the most storied venues and renowned festivals worldwide, including Central Park Summerstage, Carnegie Hall, Pirineos Sur (Spain), Colours of Ostrava (Czech Republic), Pohoda Festival (Slovakia), Jazzsomer Graz (Austria), and the Heimatklänge Festival (Germany).
The Klezmatics have garnered numerous awards and accolades throughout their career, including a 2006 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Music Album (for “Wonder Wheel: Lyrics by Woody Guthrie.”), a New York Jewish Music Award (Best Klezmer Band, 2006), a GLAMA (Gay and Lesbian American Music Award) and the German Critics Award (twice), and have topped the Billboard world music charts on numerous occasions.
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