In this intimate duo format, Michael Alpert and Craig Judelman present their personal take on Jewish fiddle tunes collected in Ukraine in the early 20th century, songs learned directly from native born Yiddish culture bearers, as well their own original tunes and songs.
Allowing decades of immersion in Eastern European, American and Celtic folk music to percolate through their own highly developed musical voices has produced a contribution to the Yiddish music and American folk cannon unlike anything before it. From blazing fiddle tunes to plaintive airs, a capella ballads to songs of workers’ rights, migration and broken hearts, this dynamic program embodies the American Jewish experience while connecting it across multiple seas and particularly to the Ukrainian heartland, which so many of us sadly know only from horrific news reports.
The two musicians were about to embark on a tour in Scotland in spring of 2020
when the pandemic quickly cancelled all their gigs (and flights). After a couple of
months locked down in the the Scottish coast, they decided to record some of
their late night musical explorations with the help of some 1950’s British broadcast
microphones and a newly acquired home-recording setup. Over the course of a
few evenings, they recorded the album ‘In Der Heym / Down Home’, capturing this
intimate music without really knowing what would come out, though it was clear
that tunes collected by celebrated Jewish-Ukrainian ethnomusicologist Moishe
Beregovski would form the core of the material. The result is a captivating and
heartfelt collection of music and stories, as familiar to fans of old time fiddle tunes
as it is to klezmer aficionados, rooted in the the intercultural exchange of early 20th
century Ukraine and yet completely fresh and unlike any other project in the
acoustic/klezmer music scene today.
Originally from Los Angeles and now based in coastal Scotland, Michael Alpert has
been at the forefront of the Klezmer revival since its inception in the 1970’s. Widely
regarded as one of its most deeply rooted and captivating performers, Michael is a
leading culture-bearer of Yiddish song and dance as well as fiddler, guitarist and
more. He has toured the world with Itzhak Perlman’s In the Fiddler’s House and
bands including Kapelye, Khevrisa and Brave Old World. This project features
Michael’s sensitive guitar playing and old world vocals as he is joined by Berlin-
based fiddler Craig Judelman, who despite being almost half Alpert’s age has built
his own international reputation as a leading Klezmer and Old Time fiddler.Originally from Seattle and now based in Berlin, Judelman honed his craft in the
place where old time and klezmer have always met, Brooklyn, NY. Over the years
he has made the transition from student to colleague with many of his mentors,
touring and recording with artists ranging from John Cohen (New Lost CIty
Ramblers) and Peter Stampfel (The Fugs), to Lorin Sklamberg (The Klezmatics) and
now with this duo.
About the Musicians:
Michael Alpert has been a transformative figure in the renaissance of East European Jewish klezmer music and Yiddish culture since the 1970s, and is a National Heritage Fellow of the United States – the nation’s highest honor in the traditional and heritage arts. Multi-instrumentalist, singer, ethnographer, scholar and educator, he is internationally known for award-winning performances and recordings with Brave Old World, Itzhak Perlman, Andy Statman, Daniel Kahn, Socalled and many others. A native Yiddish speaker and bridge to pre-WWI East European Jewish musicians, Alpert is a foremost traditional Yiddish singer and composer of new Yiddish songs but also renowned as a dancer, fiddler, guitarist and much more. With broad knowledge of the musics and languages of Europe and the Americas, he has been both instrumental and vocal in transmitting East European Jewish culture to new generations.
Alpert was Musical Director of the Emmy-winning PBS Great Performances special Itzhak Perlman: In the Fiddler’s House and is featured in film and media worldwide. He is translator and co-editor of Soviet Jewish ethnomusicologist Moyshe Beregovsky’s Jewish Instrumental Folk Music, and his own fieldwork recordings reside at the US Library of Congress. Hailing from both California and New England, he is now tri-coastal, at home on the coast of Scotland with literary scholar Emily Finer and two mist-shrouded cats.
Craig Judelman grew up in Seattle and since the age of four, was never more comfortable than when he had a fiddle in his hand. He started with classical music but was quickly drawn to traditional folk cultures, studying Klezmer, Jazz, American and other folk music wherever he could. His passion for engaging with the sounds in old recordings and adapting to what the moment demands has led him around the world, performing and teaching klezmer and old time American folk music on both sides of the Atlantic.
Highlights of his recording career include ‘Have Moicy 2’ featuring Peter Stampfel (The
Fugs) and other members of the Holy Modal Rounders, and ‘The Old Man Below’ featuring his now defunct old time string band ‘The Dust Busters’ and their mentor John Cohen (The New Lost City Ramblers) which was released on the Smithsonian Folkways label in 2012. His current bands include an old time string band called ‘Interstate Express’, klezmer trio ‘Lebedik’ with Sasha Lurje, and Sklamberg, Lurje, Judelman Trio with Ms. Lurje and the Klezmatic’s Lorin Sklamberg.