Klezmer in B012 Tonight (Last Time!)" read the sign taped to room 107 in Old Cabell Hall. We navigated our way through the crowd of students waiting in line to see Citizen Cope perform in the auditorium and made our way down the stairs to the basement classroom where the UVA Klezmer Ensemble had moved its practice.
On Tuesday, December 4, the UVA Klezmer Ensemble will join up with renowned klezmer fiddler Alicia Svigals for an evening of traditional and original tunes.
Director Joel Rubin greeted us he tuned up his clarinet and casually took roll. Ensemble members were trickling in late due to parking problems caused by the concert upstairs, but once enough people had arrived, the group sorted through their sheets of music and began to play.
Feedback is fairly new to klezmer music, but we liked what we heard. Fiddles, clarinets, bass, accordion and banjo performed tunes full of dramatic trills and woeful melodies, but the music also contained a breezy, festive sway. Rubin himself provided the perfect description, calling one tune "seriously joyous."
The ensemble is a diverse group, ranging from members of Balkan/klezmer/gypsy band Accordion Death Squad, to a German graduate student and a chemistry professor. Rubin, who is UVA’s director of music performance and a world-renowned klezmer musician, founded the ensemble when he came to the University, and the group is now finishing up its third semester. Though the ensemble is only a Second Year, to use T.J.’s official lingo, Rubin says interest has caught on fast. "Once the word got out into the community, we got invited to various things," he says. "We’ve performed at an ethnomusicology conference, at Gravity Lounge, at 214 Community Arts Center."
"Mostly what I concentrate on with this group is teaching them repertoire from the Russian empire," says Rubin. "It was stuff collected in the early 20th century, but the melodies are mostly from the mid to late 19th century." The group also performs Hasidic music from Eastern Europe and traditional American klezmer music from New York and Philadelphia.
|To listen to an audio clip of Svigals performing and learn more about the concert, go here.|
In addition to these traditional tunes, Rubin also tries to bring a guest artist to perform with the ensemble each semester. For the group’s fall concert, which will take place on Tuesday, December 4 at Old Cabell Hall, Rubin will join up with Alicia Svigals, one of the foremost klezmer fiddlers and a founding member of The Klezmatics, a group that, along with performers like Rubin, has revived interest in klezmer traditions during the last couple of decades. "We’re doing a couple of her pieces, which are new but based on traditional form," says Rubin. Svigals has also collaborated with the likes of Allen Ginsberg, Jimmy Page and the Kronos Quartet, so the ensemble is clearly in good company. Feedback had a great time listening to the group practice, so when they team up with Svigals it should be an exciting klezmer extravaganza.
|Take a listen to Paul Curreri‘s "The Wasp":
"One of the hardest parts is lugging in the couches," Paul Curreri told us when we met up to discuss the upcoming King of My Living Room concerts that he and other singer-songwriters will put on at Gravity Lounge on Friday, November 30.
Couchs + beer + guitars = A great Friday night. Paul Curreri and nine other musicians will sit, sip and strum at Gravity Lounge on November 30.
Curreri first became involved with the series of concerts, which grew out of a party that Brady Earnhart threw in 2000 and have taken place at Live Arts, Old Cabell Hall and even Harrisonburg’s Court Square Theater, when he moved to town and saw a listing for one of the shows. "I went and gave some of my demo tapes to them," says Curreri, and pretty soon he was on board for future installments, which consist of a group of talented local musicians sitting on couches, sipping on beers and trading off songs and stories.
This year the group will mix things up a little more by each performing a song by one of their fellow musicians. "We drew names out of a hat," says Curreri. "I was terrified that I’d get Stratton Salidis, because he makes up a lot of his songs on the spot, so it would hard to cover him." Luckily, Curreri drew Earnhart, though he is not sure which song he’ll choose. "He’s got so many good ones," he says.
|Take a listen to Devon Sproule‘s "Old Virginia Block":
In addition to Earnhart, Curreri and Salidis, Devon Sproule, Jan Smith, Danny Schmidt, Jeff Romano, Browning Porter, Joia Wood, and Lance Brenner will also get comfy and musical on Friday night. The 7pm set is recommended for families, while the 10:30pm show (what with all of the beer sipping) will be a more loose and venturesome affair.
What we’ve been listening to
"Hard Sun," by Eddie Vedder (An Indio cover, from Into the Wild) – Vedder’s ragged vocals well suit the song’s theme of rock hard loneliness and the aggression of just being alive.
"Emily," by Joanna Newsom (from Ys) – Reviled by some in the office, Newsom’s scratchy warble belies the snowflake-like beauty of her image-rich storytelling and melodious harp performance.
"The Boys Are Back in Town," by Thin Lizzy (from Jailbreak)
"Margin Walker," by Fugazi (from Margin Walker)
"Your Hand in Mine," by Explosions in the Sky (from The Earth is not a Cold, Dead Place)