Reflections from Weimar

Embed from Getty Images (photo by Adam Berry)

We had a really wonderful time in Germany, learning, teaching, and performing at Yiddish Summer Weimar and then on to Berlin.  Here are some photos and Yoni’s reflections on the experience:

I guess it’s now, the brief window where the experiences of the last week are distant enough to sort of fit into words but not yet totally forgotten, so if i am going to try to formulate anything to say about it it’s now or never. So here are some moments, vignettes if you will, (it is probably going to be silly long, and even so, woefully incomplete, and mainly for my own writing and remembering pleasure):

Perhaps foremost – Syrian, Jewish and German kids beautifully singing lullabies about exile in Yiddish in Weimar, 100 feet from a giant mall built by Jewish slave labour, and not the slightest bit in any contrived way. Just kids getting into (and how!) song and theatre in Yiddish. Really heavy, beautiful, and cool!

Teaching the Breslover Adir ayom and a Vorker niggun mostly known in the Amshinov community that i learned during a 3 hour cab ride in Ukraine to a room full of fantastic musicians and people, who were very enthusiastic about it, really absorbing what i was trying to communicate, at all levels, and some of whom have told me that they are still working on it. Teaching to people who in some cases could play circles around me, and thus being forced to look deep inside me and figure out what i, specifically me, have to offer. Having a captive audience to which i could blather on about my thoughts on the interplay and interchanges between eastern european and “eastern” music and all of my personal philosophy of music.

Waking up from a nap to the sound of 20 fantastic musicians jamming outside of our window.

Playing a concert for an audience that took a breath and plunged deep in with us even though they had already heard almost an hour and a half of intense music right before. Having in the audience, some of the musicians i admire most in the entire world, including many of my teachers, and having those very people say some ridiculously nice things about our music and our performance afterwards.

Getting a message right after the performance that a good friend, who happens to be a sort of nexus of why all of this exists, had a baby that day. Realizing the extent to which this festival and some of these connections have influenced my life and my artistic life even though i had never been there before.

Feeling a deep closeness with a bunch of people by the end of the week and realizing that i didn’t even know half of their names yet or anything about them, since we had just kind of arrived and got right down to music making, realizing how real that connection made by music is. And still getting a chance to just hang out and talk and dance at the after party, if only to formalize it all.

Realizing that how much more so is the connection i have with my lovely bandmates, who i have been playing with since 2008, 2009 and 2011 respectively, and getting a week to live with them and have an awesome daily routine, our lunch excursions and urban foraging, our bleary jetlagged mornings, and being tourists together in Berlin! And realizing, while telling the stories, how much unbelievable (as in, really really hard to believe any of the events happened let alone all of them) luck I had in gathering these amazing people together who have been so into the huge amount of work that it has taken to create this, with almost always a smile on their faces even when it’s 38 degrees and we’re jetlagged and have spent nearly 24/24 together for a week :)

Experiencing spontaneous organization, in the service of music, in the most amazing way – not having a clue on one day what will be on the schedule for the next, and seeing it all take shape under some pretty clever guidance from Christian and Alan.

Being forced to play clarinet in klezmer jams due to not having any other instruments with me, finally!

Small town life (♪ is the life for me ♪), having the places we went every day for our groceries, the market day, our cafe and our bakery, seeing the same people all the time, including so many friends, hearing music down the street and finding out it is friends busking, starting to learn enough german to manage small interactions, getting to the point where the lady at the deli asks where the others are when i show up alone to get last minute supplies for shabbes (the last piece of heilbutt!)

Shabbes en famille with my grandmother’s cooking (well, indirectly), and a barefoot walk to the river for the lunar eclipse.

Being in a town with seemingly more musicians than people, but in which it yet seems possible to fill a hall with enthusiastic and extremely patient concert goers.

Having so much of the week being the entire bunch of people together playing and learning music together, and getting to know people in many cases only by their face and the sound of their instrument.

Learning from Yagel, Yair, Deb, Alan, Christian, Mark, Yulia, Nora, Ilya, and more..! Tunes, thoughts, stories, philosophy… Picking apart a taksim from the Beregovski collection, learning a semai in a makam i had never heard of before, realizing the funny ways in which a cantorial piece are in uşşak. Hearing the most incredible performance by Deb, Alan and Yulia, incredible solo frame drum from Nora, and much more than that.

Ok, i guess that’s enough (and at the same time so much not enough)

A huge huge thanks to Sasha for helping bring us there, to Alan and Christian of course, and all of the people of YSW, eternal gratitude to my bandmates, roommates, travelling companions and friends Joel, Gael and Daniel, to the wonderful people who took my class, to the wonderful audiences of the concerts, to our many beautiful colleagues for their performances, and all of the teachers and participants for together making a wonderful, life changing week.

I hope to see you all soon and to be back again before long!


(obligatory end-of-tour selfie by the guy with the shortest arms)


More of Adam Berry’s photos from the festival here!

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.  Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil a investi 153 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays.  We also thank the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec for its financial support.  Nous remercions également le Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec pour son support financier.

CCFA_RGB_colour_e              Calq_cyan