Erving Elementary School
January 6, 1997
To Whom It May Concern:
Erving Elementary School has a homogeneous population, which represents very little diversity. In general, most of our students' artistic experiences happen in school. When we thought of having a Klezmer Band come to our school, it was with the hope that our children would experience some cultural diversity. We wanted to broaden the children's experience of music.
We got more than we bargained for when we hired the Wholesale Klezmer Band. The band was experienced and thougthful about their work with the children. The children and the staff danced and listened to authentic Yiddish music. As Yosl Kurland told the children stories and taught them Yiddish, it was clear that he was proud of his rich heritage. His love of his music caught the children's attention and their eyes never left him as he sang in Yiddish and taught them to dance. He sang a song about a chicken, which brought the house down.
The other musicians in the group were extremely talented, as well, Sherry Mayrent composed some of the music that the band played. Her music making along with the other performers helped to make the performance memorable for our children, aged 3 through 12. All of the players were accommodating and flexible, changing the program to fit our special needs.
I rarely have the opportunity to recommend a musical group with such unqualified approval, as I have as I write about The Wholesale Klezmer Band. This group brought to our school the best music of an important culture. Often musicians are talented without having the ability to share the background of their music in a cogent way with young people, but this band had the children in "the palms of their hands." Not only did our students learn a lot about another culture's music, but they had such fun doing it.
Mary Ann Clarkson
I am the Executive Director of Camp Kinderland in Tolland, Mass. We are a residential co-ed summer camp serving approximately 175 children per session, and we have been in business since 1923. Our program is Jewish and secular, and we seek original and innovative ways of exposing our campers to Jewish and Yiddish culture, history, arts and literature.
This past season, we had the great pleasure of welcoming the Wholesale Klezmer Band to Camp Kinderland. They arrived in the afternoon to conduct workshops with our campers, and stayed through the evening to perform an outdoor concert. They were absolutely wonderful in every aspect of their contact with our kids. First of all, Kinderland is a special place but not an elegant one. The Wholesale Klezmer Band set up outdoors on our basketball court and put on a show that made the most of these rough facilities. They took the opportunity to really get up close to our children, and to involve them in every aspect of the performance. They integrated a great deal of question and answer and audience participation into their program, which immediately caught the childrens' attention. The kids who had participated in the afternoon workshops felt particularly proud of getting so many "right" answers to questions about Yiddish words and idioms. Yet the whole thing was done in a spirit of great fun and good humor, so that no child felt left out.
Secondly, our campers range in age from 9 to 16. It may be no great feat to get 9 year olds singing and dancing, but imagine the task of getting "cool" urban teenagers to drop their guard and get involved. It was no problem for the Wholesale Klezmer. In no time at all every camper was on his or her feet, stomping, clapping, singing along, and dancing unselfconsciously, arms linked in energetic circles or lively snaking lines. The Wholesale Klezmer managed to pace the evening so that quiet songs were interspersed with more active dance numbers; they also used enough "Yinglish" to keep everyone comprehending, and included an especially funny segment that transformed a rolled up towel into a chicken. Our kids practiced that trick for days afterwards.
Our evening with the Wholesale Klezmer was one of the high points of our summer, and I recommend them without reservation for groups from 8 to 80 (or more, why not?) I look forward to welcoming them back to Camp Kinderland many times in the coming seasons.
Quabbin Regional Middle School, Barre MA
Thanks so much for your performance! The kids loved it...and the adults and teachers thought it was one of the best we've ever had! I hope that you can do it again next year. I would keep what you did the same, it was educational and entertaining and funny too. They especially loved the chicken song. Your energy was great and the musicians were very talented! Thank you so much!