Arranging "jew-ish" events throughout Scotland has always been central to SCoJeC's work, and some of our most successful have been tours of remote locations that have brought together people each of whom thought he or she was the only Jewish person for many miles around.
Our Scottish Government funded Being Jewish in Scotland project, which investigated the experiences of Jewish people living all over Scotland, provided evidence that many people, even in the cities, feel remote and isolated, and are keen to participate in Jewish culture and Jewish gatherings. SCoJeC's latest project in response to this is a klezmer concert tour with the Greenbaum quartet, visiting seven venues from Ayr to Inverness.
The programme, entitled Klezmer, Baroque and Tartan: A Jewish Musical Odyssey, blends Baroque gypsy music, classical Hebrew songs, and foot-stomping Klezmer, with traditional Scottish folk tunes. An odd connection? Not necessarily, when you think that Jewish people who came from Eastern Europe to live in Scotland more than a hundred years ago would have been familiar with all of these genres.
Klezmer and classical flautist Adrianne Greenbaum, with Michael Alpert (fiddle, vocals, and percussion), Lev Atlas, (violin/viola), and David McGuinness (keyboards), will trace the musical influences of the Eastern European Jewish community from Slovakia to Scotland. The Slovakia connection stems from a recently found notebook containing over 350 dance tunes, mixing Hungarian, Czech and Polish melodies. These tunes tascinated the Baroque composer George Telemann, who wrote that he enjoyed the "barbaric beauty" of the music performed by the klezmorim and gypsy musicians.
The concert also features works by Isaac Nathan, a Jewish composer passionate about the music of his own people who collaborated with Lord Byron on a collection called Original Hebrew Melodies, the lyrics to which included such well-known poems as She Walks in Beauty, Like the Night, and The Destruction of Sennacherib.
So, we have a selection of music that not only entertains but also tells a great historic tale culminating with soul-searing and passionate Klezmer music from Eastern Europe, brought with the Jews on their journey at the turn of the last century.
The tour is part of the European Days of Jewish Culture and Heritage, and we are also grateful for financial support from BEMIS as part of the "Homecoming Scotland 2014" celebration of Scotland's diverse communities.