While we may have become used to the sounds of live music drifting through our city library, it is a long time since we have been treated to such a lively and spirited performance as that which the Klezmer Rebs provided yesterday afternoon.
Undergoing a revival, Klezmer is traditionally celebratory Jewish music, and, although frequently instrumental, vocal lines and song titles are usually in Yiddish. Flexible in its lineup, yesterday’s concert was by seven members of the Klezmer Rebs, who are largely Wellington based.
It was an evocative mix of clarinet, violin, trumpet, trombone and helicon accompanied by piano and guitar or mandolin, giving us a characteristically authentic sound that set one’s primal musical spirit a dancing.
All of the group joined in with vocals as appropriate as they selected much of their programme from the established Klezmer repertoire, their arrangements reflecting traditional style, while allowing the creativity of these talented instrumentalists to add their own distinctive interpretation to the music.
The music celebrates the many facets of life itself and the Klezmer Rebs brought joy and vibrancy to the performance, giving the music a captivating urgency that could not fail to set the heart and soul soaring.
While there was musical excellence on display from all members of the group, the clarinettist was Urs Signeur, who made a significant contribution to local music during his year as an exchange student in Palmerston North nearly 10 years ago. Apart from giving us some stunning clarinet solos, this talented young man also composed several numbers for the group, his work characterised by much inventiveness while still capturing an authentic style.
While it must be expensive for such a large group to travel around the country, I hope it is not too long before the group makes another appearance in our city as it was obvious that the infectious joy of this music captured the hearts of the large audience gathered in the library.
Can it get much better than that?