In the spirit of the holiday season, the Klezmer Company Chanukah Concertwill take place in Zinman Hall at the Levis Jewish Community Center in Boca Raton on December 21, the first night of the Festival of Lights. But you don't have to be Jewish to love the sounds that some have dubbed "Jewish soul music."
"It's for everybody," declares Aaron Kula, Director of Orchestral Studies and Jewish Music at Florida Atlantic University, who formed the group four years ago after playing in someone else's klezmer group in New York for 16 years. "Its essence is three words: joy, fun, and love."
Klezmer is a Yiddish word that comes from the Hebrew term ke*lêy zemer; these words translate as "tool" and "music." Klezmer has traditionally been played by small, itinerant bands. "Because these were wandering musicians, their musical tastes became very diverse," Kula explains, "so it appeals to a broad ethnic audience."
Kula goes on to say that the Klezmer Company is not a "gig" band. "We don't do bar mitzvahs or weddings. We're a klezmer concert band."
The group consists of eight musicians, including a clarinetist, a trumpeter, an upright-bass player, a pianist, percussionists, and New Times' reigning "Best Female Violinist," Randi Fishenfeld. Kula plays the accordion -- "an entire orchestra in one box," he boasts.
For this concert Kula is pulling out all the stops, with Arabic and Indian percussionists, a singer, and two Egyptian dancers. Even Kula's brother, Mark, a cantor from Temple Bet Shira in Kendall, is going to let it all hang out with such klezmer favorites as "Abi Gezunt" ("Be Healthy") and "Shein Vidi L'Vone" ("Your Face Is as Beautiful as the Moon").
Don't expect to stay in your seat. Klezmer is practically guaranteed to cause spontaneous dancing. If you insist you're not the dancing kind or maybe this is your first time at a klezmer concert, "then you'd better bring a seat belt," Kula advises. "You're in for a roller coaster ride."