December 27th, 2021 9pm Stage 2
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Litvakus is a klezmer collective led by the internationally renowned clarinetist, vocalist, composer, and scholar D. Zisl Slepovitch, a native of Belarus, and the first to focus exclusively on the music and culture of Belarus and Litvak Jews.
The Litvakus repertoire presents a unique mix of traditional Belarusian and Litvak (North-East European Jewish) folk music, as well as contemporary pieces written in the spirit of roots music. In their various programs, Litvakus have collaborated and recorded with Michael Alpert, Sasha Lurje, and Daniella Rabbani, among others. Zisl Slepovitch’s ethnographic multimedia program Traveling the Yiddishland is a touring production of the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, where the founding band members first met in 2008. As a contemporary klezmer band, the way Litvakus sounds unexpected; but it also overpowers by the warmth of the deeply rooted tradition. Bagpipe-like drones, drones on the fiddle and bass, “shtetl disco” groove, both authentic and vibrantly modern, come to life with old and forgotten tunes and free improvisational takes on them.
When Forshpil performs as a full-format Yiddish psychedelic rock band you're up for a a powerful sonic explosion far from the theatric nostalgia one could associate with Yiddish song. But when they perform as a duo, old Yiddish love ballads come alive in an intimate and touching setting (yet no less cutting edge then the rock band). The songs, many over a century old, convey the eternal human problems: love, hate, heartbreak, sacrifice, adultery, wedding, deadly curses, army draft, rivers, diamonds, gold, silver, musicians, shoes, doves, devil, angels and fish to name a few. The deep and sometimes tragic lyrics of these songs are echoed by the intensity of the performance. Traditional style of singing blends perfectly with the accompaniment of modern instruments, harmonies, rhythms and effects creating impressive soundscapes that engage international audiences young and old, Yiddish-speaking and not.