NEW BRUNSWICK — On Monday, June 28 at 8 p.m., Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission and the Folklife Program for New Jersey present The Hester Street Troupe in an age-old Yiddish folk music tradition known as klezmer at the Crossroads Theatre, 7 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick.
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.
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.
For more information and to register for this free Folklife program, call 1-732-745-4489. Persons with hearing disabilities may dial 1-732-745-3888 (TTY users only) or 711, the New Jersey Relay System. Crossroads Theatre is an accessible site. An Assistive Listening System will be in use during the program. An American Sign Language interpreter can be provided without charge with a two-week advance request.
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