Podcast Ep #10: Sounds of Klezmer
When you have a turn in the music, it’s a dreidel. It’s not just a turn. We describe emotions. We ascribe emotions to the way the music is played. In Western music, these are what we call ornaments. Like, you have the melody. You have the melody, and then you add a trill here and you add an é·chap·pé you know, some sort of thing, or a turn. These are not ornaments in Jewish music; these are ways of life.– Hanuks Netzky
In this episode, instead of reading an essay, we’ve decided to play some Eastern European and Klezmer music. Then we’ll be talking to Klezmer Conservatory Band founder Hankus Netsky, along with Klezmer clarinetist and Hebrew College alumna Cantor Becky Khitrik, about their pieces and the evolution and influence of this type of music, from its U.S. revival in the 1960s until today.
A multi-instrumentalist, composer, and ethnomusicologist, Dr. Hankus Netsky is co-chair of New England Conservatory’s Contemporary Improvisation Department and founder and director of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, an internationally renowned Yiddish music ensemble.
Clarinetist Cantor Becky Khitrik is the Cantor at Temple Sinai of Sharon, Massachusetts, and an adjunct faculty member at Hebrew College. She received her ordination from Hebrew College in 2014. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music and Religious Studies from Macalester College and a Master’s Degree of the Arts in Religion from Yale Institute of Sacred Music. She also plays with the band Klezwoods and formerly with The Lithuanian Empire.
Tune in to discover two unique takes on contemporary Eastern European and Klezmer music. Hankus Netsky is sharing his inspiration and wealth of experience on the revival of Klezmer music, and how it has been evolving over the past 45 years. And Cantor Rebecca Khitrik is discussing her influences and the musical melting pot that has brought Eastern European Yiddish music to where it is today.
What You’ll Discover from this Episode:
- Hankus’s early exposure to Klezmer music as a child and why he wanted to contribute to the resurgence of Klezmer Music.
- The inspiration Hankus drew from the Celtic music revival he witnessed in the late ‘70s.
- Why Hankus sees the resurgence of Klezmer music as having benefits and appeal far beyond the Jewish community.
- The innovation and characteristics of Klezmer music and how it’s still evolving even now.
- What compelled Cantor Becky Khitrik to share her love of the piece “Got Fun Avrom” and her band’s contemporary take on it.
- The changes and innovations in Eastern European music we can observe in “Got Fun Avrom.”
Featured on this Episode:
Hankus Netsky A multi-instrumentalist, composer, and ethnomusicologist, Dr. Hankus Netsky is co-chair of New England Conservatory’s Contemporary Improvisation Department and founder and director of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, an internationally renowned Yiddish music ensemble.
Cantor Becky Khitrik` 14 Clarinetist Cantor Becky Khitrik is the Cantor at Temple Sinai of Sharon, Massachusetts, and an adjunct faculty member at Hebrew College. She holds a B.A. in Music and Religious Studies from Macalester College and a master’s degree of the Arts in Religion from Yale Institute of Sacred Music. She also plays with the band Klezwoods and formerly with The Lithuanian Empire.
Rabbi Jeffrey Summit, PhD (host) is Director of the Hebrew College Innovation Lab. He is Research Professor in the Department of Music & Judaic Studies at Tufts University and Senior Consultant for Hillel International. The author of several books, among his many awards are a 2018 Hebrew College honorary degree, a GRAMMY nomination for his CD Abayudaya: Music from the Jewish People of Uganda, the Edgar M. Bronfman Award for Lifetime Accomplishment in Hillel Professional Leadership, and the Tufts Hosea Ballou Medal.
A special thank you for this episode’s musical contributions:
Intro by: Jackson Mercer
Jackson is an Ordination Candidate at the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College in Newton, MA. He grew up at Congregation Rodef Sholom in San Rafael, CA where he cultivated a love of Judaism, embolden with music, spirituality and justice.
Esa Einai (Psalm 121:1)
Music by Jackson Mercer
Guitar and Melody by Jackson Mercer
Harmonies by Cantor Rosalie Will, Ilana Sandberg, Rabbi Micah Shapiro, Rabbi Josh Warshawsky, Noah Diamondstein, Ryan Leszner, Eliana Light.
Got Fun Avrom
Arranged by Cantor Becky Khitrik
Performed by The Lithuanian Empire
“Firn Di Mekhutonim Aheym”
Performed by Itzhak Perlman and the Klezmer Conservatory Band.