Scottish Council of Jewish Communites
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities

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Scottish Council of Jewish Communities
Representing, connecting, and supporting Jewish people in Scotland

Klezmer across Scotland

Bicentenary of the Scottish Jewish Community
11 September 2017                                                       
"A Jewish musical journey in ScotlandA Jewish musical journey in Scotland"

SCoJeC's latest tour to celebrate the bicentenary of Jewish Communities in Scotland was Crossing the border: A Jewish musical journey in Scotland, a series of klezmer concerts that were also part of European Days of Jewish Culture 2017.

All the concerts were sell-out successes, with venues bursting at the seams – literally in the case of Lamlash on the Isle of Arran, where 35 people, islanders and tourists, some of whom had come specially for the event, overflowed the charming seafront home of Sharon and Eli Shenhav, and took over the house behind! At the Record Factory in Glasgow, there were more than 75 people in the audience, and the biggest turnout was in the Edinburgh Jewish Community Centre where more than 80 people joined in.

"A Jewish musical journey in Scotland"

As usual, all concerts were preceded by SCoJeC's trademark kosher buffet, and brought Jewish and non-Jewish people together to enjoy the melodic sounds of amazing klezmer musicians and groups. Michael Alpert, who had been due to perform, was unavailable due to illness, and we are very grateful to the artistes who stepped into the breach to make sure that the show could go on. In Glasgow we heard the Kleyne Klezmer trio of Andrew Gardiner on clarinet, Simon Carlyle on tuba, and Jan Waterfield on accordion (click here to watch a short video). In Lamlash, Edinburgh Klezmer and Scottish fiddle player Gica Loening gave a solo concert and discussed the similarities between Jewish and Scottish music.

"A Jewish musical journey in Scotland"

In Edinburgh, Gica was accompanied by her son Fin on guitar, making up two thirds of the Celter Schmelter klezmer trio, which Gica founded in 2004. A treat before the main part of the Edinburgh concert was a performance by the six piece a cappella group Davno, who sang their special brand of traditional unaccompanied close harmony songs from Russia, Poland, and the Ukraine (click here to watch a short video). As well as enjoying the emotions the music evoked, the audience could also feel the music on the dance floor with klezmer dance caller, Fiona Frank, who led dancers in horas, freylekhs, and turkishers, as well as a patsh dance and the 'Jewish Gay Gordons', danced to a tune especially composed by Gica Loening (click here to watch a short video).

“Crossing the Border: A Jewish musical journey in Scotland"

Near the end of the evening, Gica played a beautiful half Scottish, half Klezmer tune called Dora's tune, which she had written for the one of the members of the audience about her grandmother, who had come to Britain as a refugee from the Nazis in 1939 and had married a Scottish traveller.

As a finale, musicians among the audience were invited to join in the performance each evening – and people came forward with violins, a trumpet, a guitar, and even someone on the Edinburgh community centre piano on the last night.

"“Crossing the Border: A Jewish musical journey in Scotland"

One participant at the Glasgow event, originally from Inverness, told us she stumbled across the event on Facebook, and this was the very first Jewish event she had attended. She said: "I have recently learnt about my Jewish roots, and I was very happy that I could find a Jewish cultural event like this where I live. I felt very welcome, and I will definitely come to other events like this in the future. And I love bagels!"

In Arran, one American lady told us that she had thought she'd be the only Jewish person on Arran, but not only was that not the case, but she and Sharon, our host, had actually attended the same high school in Chicago! In Edinburgh, one participant said: "I am so glad that we could come, the music was absolutely fantastic! Gica is such a masterful player. The whole atmosphere was great, I've met such wonderful people. I even joined the dancing for a round".

Did you attend one of these events? If so, please complete the feedback form to let us know what we did well and where we need to improve.

All of the concerts were generously supported by the Netherlee and Clarkston Charitable Trust.

 

   
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Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation no. SC029438