VESSELS OF SONG: Faces of New Jewish Music (Take II)



EXHIBTION HAS ENDED. Expanded version of the exhibition, from Dec. 8, 2014, to Feb 27, 2015, at the Reuben and Helene Dennis Museum, Beth Tzedec Congregation, 1700 Bathurst, Toronto. Exhibition first mounted in August 2014 at the Miles Nadal JCC.

The revival of popular Yiddish music has to rank as the most distinctive development  in Jewish culture of the late 20th century. As I have written elsewhere on this site (see Yiddish Music in Pictures on the Writings page), I only became aware in 1998 of the breadth of this revived interest in Yiddish music, some twenty years after it began. What distinguished this revival was the determination of young musicians not to merely imitate what was played by earlier generations of klezmorim (from the Hebrew klei zemer, meaning “vessels of song”) but to create new music inspired by the distinctive modes and rhythms of 19th century Jewish Bessarabia as well as their transplanted early 20th century, jazzier, American counterparts. The revival gave birth to Jewish music festivals all around the globe, including KlezKanada in Montreal and Ashkenaz here in Toronto. Since 1998, I have filmed and photographed a wide cross section of the new klezmorim at these events, both the seminal figures in the revival as well as scores of young people who are the genre’s latest practitioners and its biggest fans.