Category Archives: education

Festival Series: What is klezmer music all about?

Festival Series: KLEZMER MADNESS ! Saturday, September 29, 2012 – 8:00 p.m. – Kobacker Hall – For tickets, visit

Reflections on Being a 21st Century Klezmer Musician  by David Krakauer, clarinetist with Klezmer Madness! 

For those of you who are among the uninitiated, klezmer music is the traditional celebration music of Eastern European Jewry. This is the music that was played at weddings (and other festive events) for the Jewishcommunities of Russia, Poland, Byelorussia, Moldavia, Rumania, the Ukraine, the Baltic states, and Hungary,among other countries. Klezmer (which means music in Yiddish) was brought to the U.S. during the great waveof Jewish immigration between 1880 and 1920, and is primarily known to us today through recordings made inNew York beginning in the early 1920s by musicians who came to America during this time period. Because theHolocaust was to eradicate most of Eastern European Jewish culture, klezmer music in America exists as aprecious and important vestige of a varnished world.

It is an incredibly interesting time to be playing klezmer music — with a rise in Jewish consciousness, withEuropeans examining an aspect of the soul of their continent that was destroyed during World War II, with thetremendous excitement of the “world beat” phenomenon, and simply with the joyous “danceability” of this music.In fact, klezmer music has gone through two revivals since the mid-1970’s, and I believe we are now in a tremendously creative post revival period. While those of us playing klezmer today are still constantly studyingold recordings and other source material to retrieve what was almost lost to us there is, at the same time, a new sense of freedom and playfulness with the music that has given rise to a diverse repertoire, tremendousinternational participation and a wide variety of approaches. In my own work, as a 21st century American, I freely incorporate influences of funk, jazz and, most recently through my collaboration with sampling wizard Socalled, hip hop.

For me personally it is important to do two things in playing klezmer. One is to preserve the Jewishness — the inflection of the Yiddish language in the music (that I recognized in the speech inflections of my grandmother),the melodic shapes, the ornaments, the phrasing, the traditional repertoire, and the flavor of the cantor. But the second is to keep klezmer out of the museum — to write new klezmer pieces and to improvise on older forms in a way that is informed by the world around me today. My colleague Alicia Svigals, former violinist of the group The Klezmatics, talks about tradition always being in flux — that there is no such thing as static “tradition.” For example, when I write a more extended composition, I try to keep the feeling of a klezmer melody or ornament –but at the same time abstract that into a single gesture. Or, when I write a new tune, it has tobe danceable, yet full of quirky and weird aspects — in short, Klezmer Madness!

In both brand new pieces and re-interpretations of older standard repertoire, everything I play adheres to (or refers to) the basic forms of klezmer music: the Doina — rhapsodic, cantorial improvisation; the Chosidl — a kind of walking slower dance; the Terkish — a dotted-rhythm dance form from Rumania via Turkey (“oriental” in flavor); the old Rumanian Hora — a slow dance in a limping 3/8; and the Bulgar or Freylekh — an up-tempo dance tune for circle dancing and lifting honored guests up in chairs. This is a music that has been played from a time way before the earliest memories of my great great grandparents in Eastern Europe; and I’m honored to continue this great tradition. So all I can say now is . . . ENJOY!!!

September 2006


Thomas Darlington awarded Trumpet Scholarship

Tom Darlington has been awarded a scholarship through the International Trumpet Guild to attend the 2012 ITG conference in Columbus, Georgia. Students auditioning for a scholarship were required to submit a recording of the following works (18-22 year old category):
1. L.J. Vannetelbosch: Twenty Melodic and Technical Studies for Trumpet, Etude #15 (Alphonse Leduc)
2. E. Ewazen: Sonata for Trumpet and Piano, mvmt. 3 (Southern Music Co.)
Tom is a Junior Music Education major.

Incoming BGSU freshmen music majors to perform with Sanctus Real at the Stroh Center

Two incoming freshmen music majors at BGSU will be performing at the first concert in the new Stroh Center on BGSU’s campus with guest artists, Sanctus Real on Saturday, August 13 at 7:00 pm. Kathleen Schnerer and Brittany Brouwer, both violinists and Music Education majors, will be providing string background music for a few of the artist’s hit songs. Congratulations to our new freshmen class!

(Submitted by Susan Hoekstra)

Faculty Member Lisa M. Gruenhagen to Present Two Sessions at MENC

Faculty Member Lisa M. Gruenhagen, Ph.D., Coordinator of Student Teaching and Assistant Professor of Music Education will be presenting two sessions at MENC. The sessions will take place Monday, June 27, and Tuesday, June 28, as part of MENC’s Music Education Week in Washington, DC. The titles of the upcoming sessions will be “Listening to Learn: Engaging Children in Active Music Listening Experiences,” and “Explore, Discover, Think, Create: Constructing Meaning through Creating Music.”

For more information, click here.

(Submitted by Lisa M. Gruenhagen)

Mary Natvig to be Keynote Speaker at Musicology and Pedagogy Conference

Mary Natvig will be the keynote speaker for the American Musicological Society’s Southeast Chapter and the Music History Pedagogy Study Group’s Teaching Music History Day Joint Conference at the University of North-Carolina Charlotte, March 18-19, 2011. Teaching Music History Day is an annual event, first held and organized by faculty at Michigan State University in 2003. It was inspired by Natvig’s edited volume, Teaching Music History (Ashgate, 2002), the first book length publication on the pedagogy of music history. Other Teaching Music History Days have been held at the University of Michigan, BGSU, DePauw University, Baldwin Wallace College, and Edinboro University.

(Submitted by Mary Natvig)