Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Help Jake Shulman-Ment & Friends Romanian Klezmer Tour

The history of klezmer music is deeply intertwined with the history of Roma (Gypsy) and Balkan music. The Roma contributed significantly, by sharing roads, meals, and music with Jewish klezmorim and recently, by helping maintain the repertoire through the loss of klezmorim during the Shoah. That shared history is still being made, as exemplified by cross-collaborations like Alan Berg's the Other Europeans project, Yale Strom's film "A man From Munkacs: Gypsy Klezmer".

Another fine, current, example, is Klezmer violinist Jake Shulman-Ment. Shulman-Ment is currently living in Romania on a Fulbright scholarship studying Romanian violin music. Why?
"Why am I doing this, you ask? Well, because Romanian music is probably the non-Jewish music that had the strongest influence on klezmer music as we now know it when it was still alive in Eastern Europe....Romania is an amazing place to perform klezmer music. Due to years of severe cultural and informational repression under the communist regime of Ceausescu directly following the horrors of the second world war, the majority of Romanians are unaware of the richness of the Jewish history that exists here. I've found music to be one of the best ways to communicate this. Every time I play a klezmer tune for people here, they look surprised and ask me, "Where did you learn that Romanian music?" My response is, "Well, it's also my music, and I learned it in New York!"
Shuleman-Ment has started a Kickstarter fundraising campaign to "take this conversation to another level where people literally listen to it happening musically in a concert setting" and is asking for all of our help. He's got a kickstarter campaign going to raise funds. As he notes "Finding venues in Romania that are interested in this kind of concert is easy. Finding one that can pay us is very, very difficult. Also, I want these concerts to be as close to free as possible for the public. I am going to use part of my Fulbright grant to cover some of the costs, but I need to save some to eat, so I'm turning to you!"

He's asking a modest sum to put the band together, with instruments, in Romania and to put on "10 concerts all across the country over the course of two weeks." I've put my $ down. How about you? Can you help continue the shared history of klezmer and Romanian music?

Here's his pitch. He's also got a fine album available through CD Baby. Check it out.

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