TTU to host NYC-based klezmer sextet

Posted by Lori Shull - Monday, October 08 2012


thumb KlezbosThe Isle of Klezbos, a New York City-based klezmer sextet, will make its southern debut at Tennessee Tech University on Thursday, Nov. 8, in Wattenbarger Auditorium in the Bryan Fine Arts building.

TTU German professor Julia Baker said she wanted to bring the group to campus to give TTU students and Upper Cumberland residents a chance to see something unfamiliar to them and to help them better appreciate diversity in all its forms.

“I heard the band last September and was impressed and touched by their energy and the effect they had on the audience,” Baker said. “The Isle of Klezbos consists of very confident, amazing, attractive, funny, intelligent musicians. You don't run into women like this often in Cookeville.”

Klezmer music is a tradition of Eastern European, Yiddish-speaking Jews. Immigrants brought the form to the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Band leader Eve Sicular’s grandmother emigrated to the U.S. from Vienna, Austria, an area with a rich klezmer history.

The tradition lost its popularity in the U.S. after the middle of the last century, though great Jewish composers like Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland continued to be influenced by it.

Klezmer music, which dates back to at least the second century, is undergoing a revival. The Isle of the Klezbos is putting their own spin on the tradition.

The women approach the music with “irreverence and respect,” according to the group’s website. They have performed together across the country and have been called “a supergroup…with an offbeat sense of humor and a relaxed sense of swing.”

The group includes Juilliard School of Music and Harvard University alumnae and has been featured on CBS, CNN, PBS and NPR.

The concert is sponsored by TTU’s Center Stage and is free and open to the public.