World’s Greatest Klezmer Fiddler to Play Yiddish Book Center in Amherst

Alicia Svigals

(AMHERST, Mass.) – Acclaimed violinist and composer Alicia Svigals, considered by many to be the greatest living exponent of klezmer fiddle, will perform at the Yiddish Book Center on Sunday, September 9, 2012, at 2 p.m., with her ensemble, Alicia Svigals’ Klezmer Fiddle Express. During the past two decades, Svigals, a founder of the Klezmatics and the all-women band Mikveh, has almost singlehandedly revived klezmer fiddle playing. She has taught this style to hundreds of students, including most of today’s best professional players. Svigals toured with violinist Itzhak Perlman – to whom she taught the nuances of klezmer violin technique – and was awarded first prize at the Safed, Israel international klezmer festival competition.

Svigals will be accompanied by accordionist Patrick Farrell and bassist Marty Confurius, and will be introduced by Seth Rogovoy, author of The Essential Klezmer: A Music Lover’s Guide to Jewish Roots and Soul Music and programming consultant to the Yiddish Book Center.

“When Alicia Svigals first began playing klezmer in the mid-1980s, she was at a disadvantage as a violinist. Even though the violin was historically the lead instrument in the Old World klezmer ensemble, its role had been usurped by the clarinet in the New World for most of the 20th century,” says Rogovoy,  “In her solo work and in bands like Mikveh and the Klezmatics, she has restored the violin to its rightful place as the lead voice of the kapelye, the klezmer band. After mastering the particular techniques that make the distinctive cries and moans – the laughing and crying sound – of Old World Jewish wedding music, she has generously passed them on for the last 15 years as a teacher at KlezKamp. And it was Svigals who taught Perlman how to play on violin the achy, bent notes of klezmer derived from the synagogue chant of the cantor.”

Patrick Farrell – who performed at the Yiddish Book Center in July with Michael Winograd Trio and Frank London’s Klezmer Brass Allstars, as part of Yidstock: Festival of New Yiddish Music – moved to Brooklyn from New Orleans in 2007, and has quickly integrated into the New York City music scene. He plays in many different genres and musical situations around the city, from dance accompaniment and cabaret to club gigs, concerts and weddings. Farrell leads his own group, Stagger Back Brass Band, playing original brass music, and is a member of new-music chamber ensemble Ljova and the Kontraband, Russian and Romanian Roma-music band Romashka, Michael Winograd’s Klezmer Trio and Serbian-style brass band Veveritse, as well as appearing with numerous other groups and individuals around town. He has studied accordion in Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and Romania, and has played in clubs, concert halls, streets, and serenades all over the US and Europe as well as Canada and Mexico.

Double bass, electric bass, guitar and cello player, Marty Confurius became involved with klezmer music during its 1970s revival when he played bass with Andy Statman and Zev Feldman on Jewish Klezmer Music, the seminal recording of the klezmer revival. He has performed with the late great klezmer clarinetist Dave Tarras and continued to appear with clarinetist/mandolinist Andy Statman through the ‘70s and ‘80s. Recently, he has been performing with Margo Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys and the Yiddish Radio Project Orchestra.

The Yiddish Book Center is located at 1021 West St., Amherst, Mass., on the campus of Hampshire College. Admission is $15/member; $18/general admission; $9/student. For more information call 413.256.4900.

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