Monday, June 18, 2007

From Kol Nidre to George Gershwin

Yesterday evening, I had the pleasure of going out with my husband -- a rarity -- to Roy Thompson Hall to see the Toronto Symphony performing with master clarinetist and Klezmer interpreter Giora Feidman.

This concert was being held in honor of the 150th anniversary of Holy Blossom Temple, Toronto's largest reform temple. (more familiarly addressed as "The Church on the Hill" because of its Gothic architecture and location) I wasn't there on behalf of the temple, but because theater balcony tickets on gone on sale this past week at a very reasonable rate, and I asked my husband if he'd like to go to this concert and help celebrate Father's Day that way. He gave the thumbs-up sign.

Now, you have to understand: I was raised on classical music, attending symphony concerts and sometimes opera/operetta and musical theater. My husband wasn't. So he really has to want to do these things with me, and that's not often the case. But I told him who Giora Feidman was and my husband welcomed hearing Klezmer music.

Giora truly has a way with that instrument. He makes it talk; he makes it sing; he makes it cry; he makes it shout! He gives the clarinet a life of its own, while doing the same for the music he is performing. From "Kol Nidre" by Max Bruch to music from "Porgy & Bess" by Gershwin, Feidman gave every piece of music his personal stamp, infusing each movement with a trace of Klezmer. Even the piece "Two Tangos" held some Klezmer themes.

He introduced the Porgy & Bess bit by saying it has Jewish undertones, and proceeded to use "It Ain't Necessarily So" to demonstrate it. And I just found this bit in Wikipedia to help back up the fact:

"In addition to being influenced by New York jazz and southern black music, many biographers and contemporaries have noted that for many numbers Gershwin borrowed melodies from Jewish liturgical music. Gershwin biographer Edward Jablonsky has claimed that the melody to "It Ain't Necessarily So" was taken from the Haftarah blessing,[16] and others have attributed it to the Torah blessing.[17] Allusions to Jewish music have been detected by other observers as well. One musicologist detected 'an uncanny resemblance' between the folk tune Havenu Shalom Aleichem and the spiritual It Take a Long Pull to Get There.[18]"

The concert was lovely; the company was good (when I wasn't nudging him when he was "OVERrelaxing") and it was a nice way to end Father's Day.

As for Father's Day, I told my husband earlier that each day is Father's Day... Mother's Day...Valentine's Day...a anniversary...a gift in itself. And the reason I say that is that earlier in the day, I went to my parents' home and was able to with my father a happy Father's Day in person. He's had a very difficult past year and a half. Things could have been so different already. I told my mother yesterday that I'm thankful I can visit my father in his own home. And not in the cemetery. (Perhaps this sounds morbid, but it's reality)

And as the sweet, rich sounds emanated from Giora Feidman's clarinet, I couldn't help but think of those fathers no longer around to enjoy this music of life.