Tucson’s own Klezmer band, the Klezmopolitans, will bring the lively dance rhythms, modal melodies and ornamental flourishes of Jewish and Eastern European folk music to the Arizona Senior Academy on Tuesday (Aug. 15) in a midday concert beginning at 11:30 a.m.
The Klezmopolitans chose their name to reflect the cosmopolitan nature of their repertoire, which spans beyond traditional Klezmer tunes to jazz standards, classical favorites and original compositions.
Klezmer music, traditionally performed at weddings and festive celebrations, originated in the Jewish villages of Romania and spread throughout Eastern Europe and Russia. The clarinet and violin are typically featured in Klezmer bands as they can expressively imitate the vocal sounds of laughing and weeping. Later additions to Klezmer bands have included trumpet, trombone, accordion and string bass.
With the emigration of many Eastern European Jews to the United States around the turn of the 20th century, Klezmer music began to be influenced by the popular American styles of jazz and blues. The success of the popular musical, Fiddler on the Roof, with its Klezmer-style score, helped spur widespread interest in Klezmer music in the 1970s.
The members of the Klezmopolitans are well-known Tucson musicians Jay Vosk (clarinet, flute, alto sax), Michael Fan (violin), Jeff Holsen (string bass) and Matt Mitchell (guitar).
Vosk is an established composer who teaches music theory at Pima Community College. Mitchell is well-known to Academy audiences as a member of Hot Club of Tucson and the Tucsonics western swing band. Holsen and Fan are both members of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. Fan is also a composer in his own right.
Written by Leslie Nitzberg, Academy Village Volunteer