|Krakaeur & Klezmer Madness open BGSU Festival Series|
|Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Arts & Entertainment Editor|
|Friday, 21 September 2012 09:36|
When David Krakauer first heard klezmer, it spoke to him with a familiar accent.
He was about 30 at the time, an accomplished classical clarinetist who specialized in chamber and contemporary music. Krakauer encountered klezmer, the music of Eastern European Jews, through "a series of chance meetings and coincidences."
What he heard reminded him of his grandmother's voice with its pronounced Yiddish accent.
"It's very Yiddish the way it's inflected," Krakauer said of the music, "is very Yiddish with the phrasing and ornaments. That drew me in as a window into the past that seemed lost to me at the time."
Eastern European Jews brought klezmer to America with them when they came in the great waves of immigration in 1890 through the 1920s. "Jews coming to the United States were intent on blending in," Krakauer explained. But they started discarded certain elements of their culture.
"Coming from Eastern Europe and horrible hardship and anti-Semitism, people wanted to find a whole new life. That's perfectly understandable."
Jewish musicians gravitated toward jazz and rock 'n' roll. Krakauer, 56, said that "people my generation or a little younger grew up as Americans, comfortable as Americans, secure here. So we could go back and say 'this old stuff is pretty cool' and find out way into that."
What hooked Krakauer was the music passion, the intensity whether the tune was an up tempo dance number or a keening ballad.
In the 1990s he joined the Klezmatics, and became part of the second wave of klezmer revival.
In the 1980s, he said, people started taking out the old recordings from the early part of the 20th century, and "copying them note for note."
"That was the tone of the first klezmer revival," he said.
By the time he was engaged, the music started branching out, and intermingling with the richness of other styles, jazz, blues, funk.
After seven years with the Klezmatics, he left in the mid-1990s and formed Klezmer Madness "to pursue my personal vision of klezmer music."
That meant taking the music of his great-grandparents and grandparents an bringing it together with contemporary American influences and "then writing compositions that reflect the whole complexity of the journey, an exploration of my cultural routes and heritage."
Krakauer and Klezmer Madness will present the first concert of the Festival Series at Bowling Green State University, Sept. 29 at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall in the Moore Musical Arts Center.
Krakauer grew up in New York City. His mother was a violinist, and when he started studying music at 10. His mother, who was a violinist, said that was too old for violin, so he should consider flute or clarinet. He selected clarinet. He benefited from the strong music programs in the city's schools. Those, he said, no longer exist.
He attended the High School for Music and Art, went on to Sarah Lawrence College, where he did a year abroad studying at the Paris Conservatory, and then on to get a master's degree at the Juilliard School.
He said music was the only profession he considered, though he had other interests. He learned French, for instance.
"The only thing that was ever important to me was music," he said.
His career demonstrates the kind of flexibility from orchestral performances to teaching, that he says is necessary for musician.
That's something he'll discuss when he meets with BGSU students the day before his performance.
"I tell young musicians to get a full musical education. I urge people to be as diverse as possible. The market is very difficult right now, and it's important to have as many skills as possible."
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