Whiny trills of klezmer music reverberate from the towering coffered ceiling of the Museum at Eldridge Street as five firmly concentrating Israeli musicians connect deeply to their Jewish roots through the song of klezmer. Their focused brows and eased smiles signify the technicalities and synchronous timing of their music, as well as their delight in performing it. This is 12th Night Music, a quintet of highly creative classically trained Israeli musicians.
The performance at the Museum at Eldridge Street was part of the “Lost and Found Music Series,” a restorative and exploratory journey into Jewish musical forms that were threatened with disappearance – here, music forms are being rediscovered and klezmer, re-explored. Much like the actual Eldridge Street Synagogue itself, this music outlives its time place in Jewish history and becomes restored, recreated, and treasured by modern society.
Because klezmer originally served the communal purpose of providing music for gatherings, its loudness plays as vital of a role in the music’s eloquence as much as rhythm, meter, and harmony. The interlayering of these technicalities gives 12th Night Music’s klezmer a sound of elegancy and vitality. Further, as if the sound is coming from all sides of the listener, the high arched ceiling produces music with deep volume – during times of loudness, but more importantly, in times of quite dwindled sound.
The dives and dips of the music encourage a listener to participate. The particular grace of 12th Night Music is their unsettled movement in their song through long harmonical droning of the clarinet, exciting draws of solos from the cello, turbid undertones of the double bass, and swaying meter from the drum. The group consists of cellist Elad Kabilio, double bassist David Segal, drummer Daniel Dor, violinist Matous Michal, and clarinetist Avigail Malachi. Together, their sound can be described as elegantly layered and rich in spirit.
The Eldridge Street Synagogue was built in 1887 and restored in the 1980’s. Its regal interior, fitted with large stained glass window, vaulted domed ceilings, wooden pews, and rustic electric lighting provided the musicians of 12th Night Music a setting fit for a restorative demonstration of Jewish roots.
Yaakov Bressler is a local Brooklyn artist and writer who currently attends Brooklyn College in pursuit of entry into medical school. You can follow him on twitter at: @YBArtCritic