Jay Sweifach on keyboards Alan Sweifach on clarinet Jim Bazewicz on drums
The Hester Street Troupe, a group specializing in Klezmer and Jewish entertainment has been electrifying audiences for over thirty years. Their extraordinary repertoire consists of Klezmer, a style where the clarinet imitates human emotions like laughing and crying, songs from the Yiddish Vaudeville and Second Avenue Theatres, as well as classic older and more contemporary Jewish Melodies.
Klezmer Music is a style of music that is inherently Jewish in nature. The word Klezmer comes from two Hebrew words, Kleh and Zemer, meaning vessel of music or song. Klezmer music was a product of Eastern European Yiddish Culture which the Jewish immigrants brought with them to the United States in the 1880's.
Klezmer musicians (also called Klezmorim) were an informal group of musicians. Many were itinerants who went from village to village in Eastern Europe. They played traditional music, folk songs, folk dances and solemn hymns before prayers.
These musicians rarely knew how to read music. What Jews could afford music lessons and who in the shtetl would teach them? They earned very little money and had to keep moving, seeking out country fairs, weddings, synagogue dedications, Purim festivities etc... Although untrained in any formal sense, many were extremely gifted men. So superior was their playing that Polish nobles often engaged them. As characters, the shabby Klezmorim were familiar to all Ashkenazi Jews. They were regarded as drifters, odd types and itinerant minstrels. They are a recurrent theme in the paintings of Marc Chagall and Chaim Gross.
The Hester Street Troupe has three recordings; their most recent, On Second Avenue is a celebration of songs from the Yiddish Vaudeville and the Lower East Side as well as traditional Klezmer medleys. Their first recording, Generation to Generation, connects you with the traditions of the Jewish experience and asks the question "who will be the Zayde's of our children?" The second, Sounds of the Shtetl, is a peek at a slice of life in the old Jewish community called the Shtetl. You will hear horse hooves clopping on cobblestone as street vendors hawk their wares and the Klezmer musicians frolic in the street.
The Troupe has performed extensively throughout the Northeast as well as in in Florida, playing to standing-room-only audiences. This much sought after group combines a special brand of shtick with popular Jewish songs for an explosive performance. You are guaranteed to be dancing and singing to their music at Beth Judah’s Centennial Block Party on Saturday, October 25th. The dedication and party starts at 2pm in front of Beth Judah, Spencer & Pacific Avenues in Wildwood, New Jersey. This event is free and open to the public.