NIGHT SONGS FROM
A NEIGHBORING VILLAGE
MICHAEL ALPERT and JULIAN KYTASTY
NEW NIGHT SONGS CD! CLICK FOR INFORMATION
Night Songs from a Neighboring Village is a concert program pairing two musical traditions - East European Jewish and Ukrainian - that have existed side by side and interacted for centuries, mirroring the complex relationship between the two peoples that have nurtured them.
Heirs to the legacy of folk bards innumerable and informed by the spirit of Bártok, Stravinsky and other modernist national composers, master traditional singers/musicians/composers Michael Alpert and Julian Kytasty enrich their heritage musics with new compositions and arrangements that bridge tradition and innovation. They draw sustenance from the deep wellsprings of Ukrainian folk and liturgical song, the virtuosic art of the bandura (Ukrainian lute-harp), and three Jewish musical genres that reached their greatest European flowering on the soil of Ukraine: klezmer music, Yiddish folk song and the music of the Hasidic world. Along with the Jewish cantorial tradition, these three great art forms of the Yiddish world have nourished each other while interacting closely with diverse musical styles of non-Jewish neighbors. Night Songs continues that interaction in the present day thru music, personal tale and commentary, and multimedia projection.
Night Songs from a Neighboring Village is a unique creation of Alpert, Kytasty and their Canadian colleague, singer-producer Alexis Kochan. First created by Alpert in 1994 for the exhibition “Tracing An-sky” at New York’s Jewish Museum, Night Songs from a Neighboring Village has been featured at major concert venues in New York, Los Angeles, Jerusalem, Berlin, Toronto, Krakow and elsewhere throughout North America and Europe.
Alpert and Kytasty add: “We are musicians/composers from Jewish and Ukrainian communities in North America for whom the affirmation and development of our musical heritages is a life's work. Our collaboration explores the deep historical and cultural links between our two peoples, who arrived on North American shores in the same great waves of immigration from the same ancestral territory. Devoted to our own musical legacies, we have been inspired to explore the commonalities that connect us as well as the differences that have divided us.”
• Concert programs customized to targeted audiences, available with or without multi-media projections.
• Hands-on workshops in Yiddish and Ukrainian roots and contemporary music.
• Comparative lecture/discussions on musical heritage and continuity via our personal connection to both tradtions, featuring rare video, audio and live performance segments portraying our immigrant-generation mentors and teachers.
• Workshop/discussions and residencies on the Jewish/Ukrainian relationship in all its complexity, with the goal of encouraging inter-community dialogue and finding common ground in our heritages rooted in the same ancestral territory. We partner with the Center for Traditional Music and Dance as well as a network of trained clergy and community leaders from several communities – Jewish, Ukrainian Orthodox, Ukrainian Catholic, Crimean Tatar and Polish.
IN THE SACK OF THE WIND is the video element of a larger collaborative art installation by LA visual artist Benny Ferdman, with original music compositions by NYC-based Yiddish singer/composer Michael Alpert and Ukrainian-American composer, singer and bandura player Julian Kytasty.
Celebrating the work of one of the most prominent 20th-century Yiddish poets, Avrom Sutzkever, this piece interprets and reflects on his early poem "In the Sack of the Wind" written in 1935 in Lithuania – before the war brought Sutzkever to the Vilna Ghetto and beyond. It was filmed in a Manhattan studio, in the Santa Monica mountains in California, and in towns and ruined Jewish cemeteries in Poland and Ukraine.
Projected through monitors built into a large wood and metal structure designed and assembled by Ferdman, this video intertwines original compositions by Alpert and Kytasty with Ferdman's reflections on nature, the text of the poem and art he creates inspired by symbols and images from old Jewish manuscripts and photographs of now destroyed wooden synagogues.
Created and Presented January 2011 for "Celebrating Sutzkever," a conference at the American Jewish University, Los Angeles, honoring the poet's life and work in commemoration of his death in 2010. Music: "Elli" by Julian Kytasty with Michael Alpert (copyright Kytasty/Alpert 2010, all rights reserved); "A Shpay in Yam." Music & lyrics by Michael Alpert (copyright 2006 Michael Alpert, all rights reserved, published by Pinorrek Music, GmbH, Hamburg, Germany - GEMA); "Lydia." By Julian Kytasty with Michael Alpert, copyright Kytasty/Alpert 2010, all rights reserved). Video editing by Jacob Ferdman. Poem read in Yiddish by Michael Alpert
AUDIO (streaming mp3s):
Chernobyl (click here to listen)
RaiViski_Ethelbert_Holonivs'ka (click here to listen)
ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
MICHAEL ALPERT (violin, accordion, voice), a pioneering and innovative figure in the renaissance of East European Jewish klezmer music and Yiddish culture for 35 years, is internationally known for his award-winning performances and recordings with Brave Old World, Kapelye, David Krakauer, Itzhak Perlman, Theodore Bikel, Frank London and The Klezmatics, SoCalled, salsa legend Larry Harlow and others. A native Yiddish speaker, he is considered the finest traditional Yiddish singer of his generation, and is noted as well for his original Yiddish songs. Adept at 20 languages and vocal styles from Russian to Mexican, Alpert's appearances include concert venues throughout North America, Europe, Israel and Australia. An important bridge between Old World musicians and the world klezmer/Yiddish revitalization, Alpert has extensively documented and researched traditional Jewish music and dance worldwide. He directs and teaches at Yiddish cultural programs throughout the globe, has authored scholarly publications on Yiddish traditional and roots-based arts, and is a leading contemporary researcher and teacher of East European Jewish traditional dance. Co-Artistic Director of Montreal’s KlezKanada from 1996-2008, he is currently Senior Research Fellow at New York City’s Center for Traditional Music and Dance. Alpert has taught and lectured at Oxford University, Columbia University, Yale University, Indiana University, the New England Conservatory of Music, the European University in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Poland's innovative Borderlands Foundation.
Alpert is the Emmy/Rose D'Or-winning musical director of the PBS Great Performances special Itzhak Perlman: In the Fiddler's House. He was executive producer of the Perlman klezmer CDs on Angel/EMI and directed the subsequent international concert tours. He performed with Brave Old World in the above, and appeared with Perlman on CBS' The Late Show with David Letterman. Alpert is featured in the documentaries A Jumpin' Night in the Garden of Eden (USA 1987), Fiddler on the Hoof (BBC 1990), Sabbath in Paradise (Germany 1998), The New Klezmorim (Canada 2000), and Klezmer Musicians Travel Home to Krakow (USA 2004) and has appeared on NPR's All Things Considered, A Prairie Home Companion, and CNN. He is featured in the Hollywood film The Chosen and on the Grammy-nominated soundtrack CD of the acclaimed documentary Partisans of Vilna.
JULIAN KYTASTY (banduras, voice, sopilka) is one of the world's premier bandura (Ukrainian lute-harp) players, and the instrument's leading North American exponent. A multi-instrumentalist and third-generation bandurist who learned most of his early repertoire from his family, he has concertized and taught Ukrainian instrumental and choral music to thousands of students at summer music camps and workshops throughout the Americas and Europe. In 1989-1990 Kytasty was one of the first North American-born bandurists to tour Ukraine, performing over one hundred concerts. He is especially recognized for his expertise in Ukrainian liturgical music and his historical research on the bandura and kobzar (epic song) repertoires. A consummate exponent of time-honored folk styles, he is known also for his original compositions, innovative reinterpretations of traditional music and development of the bandura as a contemporary concert instrument.
Kytasty has opened new possibilities for the bandura as soloist, recording artist, and through his work with the Canadian/Ukrainian world music group Paris to Kyiv; with his own groundbreaking Experimental Bandura Trio; and with artists as diverse as Chinese pipa virtuoso Wu Man, Mongolian master musician Battuvshin, performance poet Bob Holman and composer/saxophonist John Zorn. He has performed in venues ranging from the steps of a village chuch in Brazil to Carnegie Hall. As a composer, he has created music for theater, puppet theater, modern dance, and film, earning a Blizzard award for Best Film Score for the National Film Board of Canada documentary My Mother’s Village (dir. John Paskievich, 2002). Kytasty is Musical Director of The New York Bandura Ensemble and founding Director of Bandura Downtown, an innovative music series based in New York's East Village that provides a home to creative explorations of traditional and contemporary sounds and themes. He also co-directs the Ukrainian Wave Community Cultural Initiative at NYC’s Center for Traditional Music and Dance.
For more information click here to email the artists.
High resolution photos - click the links below:
Michael Alpert and Julian Kytasty
We thank David Kaufman for the use of his photography and Jesse Chevan for web editing.