NEW BRUNSWICK – On Wednesday, Jan. 13, at 7 p.m., Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission and the Folklife Program for New Jersey will present The Hester Street Troupe in an age-old Yiddish folk music tradition known as klezmer at the Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple, 222 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick. This program is offered free of charge but advance registration is required.
The Troupe members are young American klezmorim (Yiddish word for musicians) who continue a folk music genre which some scholars say can be traced back to the 14th century. The group, made up of Alan Sweifach (clarinet), Jay Sweifach (keyboards) and Jim Bazewicz (drums), has been performing for over two decades, continuing the musical traditions of past generations. Klezmer is an aural tradition, transmitted by memory from fathers to sons, with no written scores. Jay Sweifach said, “playing by ear is an asset in Klezmer and Yiddish music because that’s what musicians of this type did a century ago. They would wander from village to village in Europe, playing their music.”
Klezmer comes from the Hebrew words kley (instrument) and zmer (music), literally meaning “instrument of song.” The origins of this instrumental folk music were found in Eastern European Yiddish Culture throughout various countries, namely Poland, Ukraine, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Russia. Rooted in Yiddish cultural ideologies and musical customs, klezmer music developed and expressed the thoughts and emotions of the people in these Jewish communities through the use of instruments. Fiddles and clarinets were most commonly used by klezmorim to relay and pass on the “musical” stories of their culture.
Congregation Anshe Emeth, celebrating its 150th year anniversary, is the first incorporated Jewish congregation in Middlesex County and is the fourth in the state of New Jersey. The congregation was originally founded on October 11, 1859 in New Brunswick. For 150 years, the clergy and congregation of Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple have been an integral part of the fabric of New Brunswick, working with agencies and communities of faith to advance the city’s efforts toward social justice.
For more information and to register for this free Folklife program, call 1-732-745-4489. Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple is an accessible site.
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