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Celebration of culture

KlezmerQuerque 2019 has been going strong for 17 years.

This year’s theme is “Oy! Romanya! Romanya!” and is a celebration of Jewish, Yiddish and Romanian connections in dance, music, history and culture, according to an event news release. The event begins on Thursday, Feb. 14, and continues through Feb. 17 at Congregation Nahalat Shalom. Dance and music events will be held Feb. 14 through Feb. 16. Four 90-minute, hands-on workshop sessions in music, dance and culture, featuring the festival’s special guest artists, will be held all day on Feb. 17.

Composer, violinist and ethnomusicologist Miamon Miller will host a discussion on a film he composed for, perform during a concert and lead music workshops.

“He composed some music for this puppet theater in Poland and they had this puppet performance, which was filmed, and it’s called ‘The Black Birds of BiaÅ‚ystok,’ and he composed the music for it,” said Beth A. Cohen, KlezmerQuerque coordinator. “He went out to Poland and worked with the musicians there.”

Accordionist Isaac Sadigursky also will be part of the festival. Sadigursky, who grew up in a Jewish village in Romania, immigrated to the United States many years ago. He and Miller have been playing music together for years in the Los Angeles area and will share a stage during the festival.

Dance duo Cristian Florescu of Romania and his wife, Sonia Dion, will conduct dance workshops and perform.

“They’ll be leading group dances like line and circle dances from Romania,” Cohen said. “We’re trying to do a little because Jewish people for many, many years lived and thrived in Romania. There’s still several communities there. We’re trying to do a little crossover of Jewish and Romanian culture.”

Klezmer dance and music also are a big part of the festival.

“Klezmer is dance music,” Cohen said. “It’s secular. It grew out of traditional weddings, wedding traditions of the villages in eastern Europe, the Jewish villages, and it’s dance music, instrumental music, so it’s not necessarily prayers you would say in a synagogue. It’s considered more secular, even though it’s used in a wedding. But it’s recreational dancing.”

The Nahalat Shalom Community Klezmer Band and the Rikud dancers perform on Feb. 15.

The der Freylekher Shabes KlezmerQuerque opening MEGA-event starts at 6 p.m. Feb. 15.

The festival’s main event concert and dance party will be held on Feb. 16. There will be a musical greeting at the door by Di Kavene KapelyeIt. The concert will open with a performance by local klezmer band The Rebbe’s Orkestra. It will continue with a concert by a klezmer trio made up of Miller, Sadigursky and guest bass player Paul Brown.

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