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Previously The Klezmer Festival Band.
Klezmer, until quite recently unknown in this country, was the name given to the musician travelling with Jewish bands across Eastern Europe at the turn of the century. Klezmer music was dance music and the arrival of the klezmorium in town meant that the good times were about to roll!
The music’s distinctive flavour stems from its unusual combination of sources. It blends traces of Middle Eastern music with elements of Jewish liturgical chant, along with musical influences from the Balkans, Hungary, Poland, Russia and wherever else Jewish people settled for more than a generation or so. The main Klezmer instruments are the clarinet and the violin, largely because they were the most portable.
In Britain, Gregory Schechter formed the Klezmer Festival Band, gathering together some of the very best professional musicians to form a virtuoso ensemble. Their debut concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London sold out! Gregory is a master of the Klezmer clarinet and is a Russian Gold Medallist.
Less than six months after their very first performance, the band were asked by the BBC to film a documentary on Klezmer music, where they took a leading role. They have been featured on Kaleidoscope, Radio 4’s leading Arts programme. They have since performed at several more sell-out performances at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. There has been a flood of interest in the band; from their very first note audiences have been absolutely delighted. It is impossible to capture the electrifying atmosphere and the response with which the band has been met wherever it has played!
This is a band of true klezmorium - enthusiastic professional musicians who really enjoy expressing themselves through this bewitching music. As they say, you cannot just play Klezmer; you have to live it.
Gregory Schechter Klezmer Band play examples of a variety of Klezmer from throughout Europe. Gregory’s arrangements come straight from Russia and Eastern Europe and contribute a contemporary element, alongside authentic up-tempo dance tunes. Gregory prefers not to have a rigid programme, as he likes the personal contact he has with his audiences and would rather talk about each piece as the concert unfolds. After all, who can be formal at a Klezmer concert?
“It’s very jazzy, very upbeat and fun!” fRoots
“… the Klezmer Band were sensational” John Shaw, BBC Radio Nottingham and BBC Radio Derby