Most modern American fans of klezmer, an instrumental musical tradition of Eastern European Ashkenazic Jews, expect certain sounds and melodies when they attend a klezmer concert, typically the cadences and ornamentation forged in 20th-century New York and Philadelphia. However, a series of concerts this month in Greater Phoenix will offer klezmer connoisseurs a new take on the musical tradition — or, more precisely, an old one.

“Trampled Manuscripts: The Lost Klezmer Music of the An-Ski Expeditions’’ will introduce listeners to the Kiselgof-Makonovetsky archive, filled with century-old songs that have been, for all intents and purposes, lost to the general public, kept inside the Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine and only recently revealed to experts at the Klezmer Institute in New York.

Phoenix’s Little Chef Klezmer Band is partnering with Christina Crowder, co-founder and executive director of the Klezmer Institute, on a series of gigs and workshops to spotlight the newly-rediscovered Ukrainian klezmer repertoire. The culminating concert will take place at Beth El Phoenix on Sunday, Jan. 28.

“People are used to American klezmer but what we’re playing is from Europe and has its own particular and unexpected flavor,” Crowder told Jewish News. “There’s this great richness of things from simple melodies to elaborate show pieces that connect to a whole ritual universe of a Jewish community in that space and in that time that is now lost.”

The world in which this music was written and performed included week-long weddings and other ceremonial traditions that are very different 100 years later. Hearing the music offers an audience “an aural view into a world that’s novel to us, rich and evocative, as well as a thread of connection that makes us think, ‘That could have been what my great-grandparents played at their wedding,’” Crowder said.

“It’s a snapshot into a world that was irrevocably changed.”

To read the full article in Jewish News, click here.

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