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October 23, 2009
8:00 PM


Montreal’s eminent music scene is part and parcel of the cosmopolitan city’s well-earned nickname as the “Paris of North America,” and the Kleztory ensemble is one of Montreal’s musical jewels. The city’s riches include its internationally starring Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, the largest jazz festival on the continent; being an international hot spot for the Early Music movement; its vibrant Quebecois pop scene that charts many successes in the U.S as well as Europe; a bustling world music scene rooted in the Montreal’s ethnic and linguistic diversity… all for starters.

Kleztory is rooted in all of the above, fed by Montreal being a world center for promoting Yiddish culture. Canada encouraged immigration through the 1930s, and this included a strong Jewish component, in contrast to the U.S., which cut back immigration shortly after World War I. Canada’s doors were also opened wider after World War II to Holocaust survivors. Those two things together means that Montreal’s large Jewish community includes an exceptionally large proportion of native Yiddish speakers, organizations promoting Yiddish culture, and an exceptionally strong Jewish educational network where many schools teach Yiddish as part of the regular curriculum.

Kleztory unites all of the above into a virtuosic, hybrid take on Klezmer music. Where else are you going to find someone like Henri Oppenheim, a French-Jewish Ph.D. mathematician who came to Montreal to do a post-doc, deciding instead to retrain as a classical composer at McGill University’s rising-star music faculty… and then focuse energy on carrying Klezmer music into the 21st century? Plus two virtuostic immigrants from ex-Soviet Republics trained in the ultra-demanding Russian approach to classical music, who fell in love with Klezmer music: this is clarinetist Airat Ichmouratov and violinist Elvira Misbakhova. Then stir in two bright lights from the Quebecois pop and world music scenes: guitarist Alain Legault and bassist Mark Peetsma.

“Sweet nostalgia mixed with wild harmonies… The sound of Kleztory expresses their unique sensitivity combined with a true authenticity of interpretation.” –Voo.ca, le media de la releve culturelle, Montreal

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