Jewish Journal

Classical Klezmer

by Mike Levy

Posted on Nov. 29, 2001 at 7:00 pm

What do you do when your symphony season hinges on a theme of celebration, but your country is still reeling from terrorism? When your opening concert features a piece called "Suite for Klezmer Band and Orchestra," and the klezmer band cancels?

If you are Noreen Green, artistic director, conductor and founder of the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony (LAJS), you find another band and you put on the show. "I think it's important we get on with our lives," she says. "Jews are no strangers to tragedy. Our music has reflected our hopes, our dreams and our tragedies."

When the Swiss klezmer band Kol Simcha canceled after the Sept. 11 attacks, Green called up the spirited three-piece Hollywood Klezmer, longtime friends of the symphony. And on with the show.

On Dec. 2, Green's dedication to Jewish orchestral music bears fruit once again in the LAJS' eighth season opening concert, featuring the eclectic range of composers and musical styles for which the symphony is known. For the first half of the "Celebrate Joy" concert, LAJS offers a musical Chanukah, with Peter Yarrow's "Light One Candle," Zamir Bavel's "Hanukkah Rhapsody" and selections from Aminadav Aloni's "Or Ha-am."

Then the symphony really gets cooking with Hollywood Klezmer, playing Sid Robinovitch's "Suite," blending klezmer with elements of burlesque and even tango, for a little extra holiday spice.

Not a Jewish music expert? Not to worry, Green is that rare conductor who interacts with listeners and explains the music, "so the audience isn't walking into a vacuum," she says. "And they walk out feeling not only did they hear great music, but their spirits have been lifted, and they learned something. And people are hungry for that."

"Celebrate Joy" concert Sunday, Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m. $25-$45. K.L. Peters Auditorium, Beverly Hills High School, 241 Moreno Ave., Beverly Hills. For tickets, call (818) 753-6681.

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