29 August 2011

Post KlezKanada wrap up

Well, I've now returned from an amazing week at KlezKanada with my dissertation staring me right in the face. 

KlezKanada itself was a great year (in my humble opinion), not only with the depth of interesting workshops and lectures, but with a small change to help highlight the talents of the faculty to a greater degree.  In his first year as the artistic director, Frank London decided to institute a series of faculty concerts in the early evenings (before dinner) rather than try to shoehorn the massive talents of the teachers into two practically endless concerts lasting well into the night.  The KlezKabaret series of late night talent shows (for lack of a better word) continued the theme nights which they began last year.  The "Battle of the Bands" night was a huge success, and is sure to be taken further in the future.

As far as my own personal KlezKanada week was, I had a blast being able to teach this year.  I led an ensemble called the "Nokh a Mol Band" which was a beginner-intermediate group.  I had a great time teaching traditional tunes both by ear and from sheet music, and the group responded to every challenge I gave them.... I was trying to have them play "real klezmer," and not simplify the music beyond recognition.  I also tried to make sure that we were playing the music in a stylistically correct fashion to the best of their abilities. 

This brings us to the point that many people categorize klezmer as a "folk" music that can be picked up quickly.  This is, of course, not true, as klezmer was a professional field, and as such, a somewhat professional ability on instruments (particularly melody instruments) is required. 

This makes it difficult for beginners to play klezmer with all of the ornaments and subtleties, which is why I was trying to capture the energy and intent of the music (as a dance music) with my group.  I also wanted the participants to play what they could and be a part of the musicking process, rather than get intimidated by the number of notes.  This seemed to work out well, as the group (a fairly large one) sounded great, and gave a spirited performance at the student concert!

I also gave a lecture based on the paper I presented at the recent International Council for Traditional Music biannual conference in July in St. John's, Newfoundland.  The KlezKanada lecture was sparsely attended (as was the one in St. John's), but seemed to go over well. 

Otherwise, the highlight of KlezKanada is always the "hang" - getting to see friends for the first time since last year, hanging out, playing music again (after spending months writing and teaching), and meeting new, interesting klezmer people who come out.  This year seemed to have a very international attendance, including people from Canada, the US, Israel, France, Sweden, Germany, the UK, and many other places.

And with a night of very little sleep and a lot of alcohol (and a very hung over ride back to Toronto), KlezKanada ended for another year.  Hopefully I'll be able to see some of the old and new friends soon, either on my upcoming travels to Europe or here in North America.

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