The Klezmer Shul, the latest work of Veretski Pass, is a four movement suite that attempts to bridge the gap between the sacred and the secular, not through the use of words, but with purely instrumental music.
In the 1000 year history of Ashkenazic culture, research has shown that there were Jewish trade guilds, which often established their own small synagogues, or shuls. There were shuls for tailors, shoemakers, stone cutters - and klezmorim (musicians). Inspired by these historic accounts, Stu Brotman obtained a grant from the Creative Work Fund in San Francisco for Veretski Pass to compose a klezmer-based, musical impression of a Jewish service.
Were these shuls, also known as kloyzn or shtiblekh, places for traditional services, or were they also meeting halls, gathering places for all-night jam sessions with visiting musicians and musical neighbors? In The Klezmer Shul, Cookie, Josh, and Stu reimagine them as centers of multi-cultural music making, where musicians could inspire each other, improvising, recombining, mixing the melodies of the service with local Folk, Classical and popular music.
"For musical inspiration, our sources ranged from the traditional melodies of the synagogue to the folk music of the many peoples among whom Jews lived and worked: Rom (Gypsy), Ukrainian, Hungarian, Romanian, Moldavian, Czech, Polish melodies. Employing techniques of modern Classical composition, modern Jazz, and even Gospel music styles, we felt it important to leave the structure of the arrangements open in order to allow room for improvisation, which generates the core of our work. In this way each performance is spontaneous and unique."
The Klezmer Shul is intended as a spiritual experience, as well as pure concert music. Veretski Pass offers it as a gesture of reconciliation in a world divided by doctrine, and dedicates it to the memory of musicians lost to war.