Monday, 14 September 2015

Jewish music in the South of Poland

It’s been ages since I last wrote and, honestly, the reason I’m writing now is because I feel a bit guilty about that and I don’t want to abandon this blog. In the next few weeks I want to introduce you to a Spanish band that has surprised me in a very positive way and I want to keep writing about the history of Jethro Tull, as the next album I have to talk about was the end of an era. Today, however, I’ll write about my holidays, or rather about a band that has some kind of connection with them.

I went to Poland in August and stayed there for three weeks. I love that country and I have lots of friends there, so why not? One of my stops, the one that Polish people would consider the most unexpected, was Rzeszów, a small town in the South-East of the country. I studied there for a year some time ago, and my Polish teacher kindly hosted me. He also gave me a little present: a CD from Rzeszów Klezmer Band, Kameleon. Not gonna lie, I think I had heard the word klezmer before, but if anyone had asked me what that is, I wouldn’t have answered, so I’ll assume some of you may not know what it is. To put it in a few words, it’s Jewish folk music, which consisted largely of dance tunes and instrumental display pieces for weddings and other celebrations. And it sounds good.

The inside of the CD cover explains the history of the band (until 2009, which is when the CD was recorded) in a few words. Here’s what it says:

Rzeszów Klezmer Band was formed in November 2004 in Rzeszów, due to the exhibition decdicated to Bruno Schulz which took place at a city art gallery at that time. No one thought then that a coincidence and the passion of young artists would be a starting point of a great adventure with klezmer music. In the beginning of its existence RKB was giving concerts in Rzeszów, where it has been appearing on the local stage and taking part in different contests and musical reviews. After a year of their activity, artists were invited by Robert Sulkiewicz to give a concert in his restaurant “U Fryzjera”, located in Kazimierz Dolny. They have met with bigger audience there and earner their acknowledgement. This led to a permanent co-operation with the restaurant. Provided by the regular performances in Kazimierz Dolny, RKB was receiving more and more invitations from all over the country.

By this time the band gave over 300 hundred concerts not only in Poland but also abroad. They participated in a number of contests and festivals such as “Warszawa Singera” Festival (2007, 2008; during which by accompanying they took part in a breaking Guinness record in chassid dance), “Nowa Tradycja” Festival in Warsaw (2006), Festival of Klezmer Music and Tradition (2006, 2007, 2008) and “Kazimierskie Inspiracje” Festival (2008) in Kazimierz Dolny. They also took part in “Spotkania z Kulturą Żydowską” (2007) in Łódź and multicultural “Galicja” Festival (2007) in Rzeszów. Young musicians consider participating in “SZIGET” Festival (2007) in Budapest, in “Klezfiesta” (2008) in Buenos Aires and in the “EXPO” Exhibition (2010) in Shanghai their biggest accomplishments. They were also giving concerts in Lithuania, Armenia, Georgia, Romania, Greece, Macedonia and many other countries. They repeatedly co-operated with klezmer dance choreographer Leon Bank and with Steven Lee Weintraub.

RKB also participated in recordings for Polish Television and Polish Radio. Tunes played by the musicians are klezmer melodies arranged in a way to combine tradition and modernity. Their first album “Siedem” consists of a part of the previous works of the band. Young and energetic artists create music which appeals to the audience. Their performances are full of life, diverse and ravishing. RKB´s music can both make you want to dance and move you deeply.

Here are some songs from the band, not necessarily from this album. Oh, and I will try to write a post in which I don’t just copy stuff soon! Enjoy Rzeszów Klezmer Band and remember, if you want to suggest/ talk about random music, click here