Henry Sapoznik is a catalyst – some say the catalyst – of the klezmer music revival in United States in the 1970s.
Klezmer, with roots in Eastern European Jewish wedding music, is still going strong in some cities in North America and Europe, including far-flung Albuquerque.
Sapoznik will perform and lecture at the 16th annual KlezmerQuerque Festival, which will be held Friday, Feb. 16-Sunday-Feb. 18 at Congregation Nahalat Shalom.
“He’s our hero. He’s the father of klezmer revival. Without Henry there wouldn’t be anything,” proclaimed klezmer violinist Beth Cohen, the coordinator of the annual KlezmerQuerque and Nahalat Shalom’s cantor.
Sapoznik, a multi-instrumentalist, is also an historian, scholar and a four-time Grammy-nominated performer/producer. His NPR series “The Yiddish Radio Project” won the Peabody Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism in 2002. He wrote an award-winning book on the history of klezmer music.
Sapoznik is one of three guest artists at KlezmerQuerque. The other two are Las Cruces-based clarinetist Margot Leverett and dancer/teacher/choreographer Avia Moore of Toronto.
“Margot has been part of KlezmerQuerque almost since the beginning.
She’s like family,” Cohen said.
All three guest artists will participate in Friday’s der Freylekher Shabes (“Joyous Shabbat”) led by Cohen, with the Alavados ensemble, the Rikud dancers, the Rebbe’s Orkestra, the Nahalat Shalom Community Klezmer Band, plus Moore, Sapoznik and Leverett. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. and includes a potluck dinner.
At the 10 a.m. Saturday service, JoAnn Rice, who retired from teaching cantorial students at the Jewish Theological Seminary, reads from the Torah. She also plays trombone in the Alavados ensemble.
The klezmer trio Di Kavene Kapelye welcomes patrons to the 7 p.m. Saturday concert, and The Rebbe’s Orkestra open the show. Sapoznik and Leverett headline the concert, presenting klezmer tunes and songs.
Following the concert and intermission, Moore and The Rebbe’s Orkestra will lead a dance party.
The festival’s three guest artists will continue to be busy Sunday.
They will offer a series of workshop sessions. Moore will teach Yiddish and traditional Eastern European dance. Sapoznik will be in conversation with his audience at 12:45 p.m. on the subject of “On Founding the Klezmer Revival” and at 4:15 p.m. he will talk on “The Rise and Fall of Yiddish Radio, 1915-1955.”
Leverett will teach klezmer music performance at two sessions and she will give a woodwinds masterclass at a third.