Alla Zingarese

Friday, June 1, 2018

8 PM: Concert

Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans
900 Camp Street
Downtown New Orleans

$25 General Admission, $15 Students (with ID)


Haydn: String Quartet Op. 76 no. 2 “Fifths”
Golijov: Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind
Brahms: Piano Quartet no. 1 in G minor

This concert traces a tale of two musical diasporas. Music travels with people and there are few people more famous for their music (or travels) than the Romani people. Long persecuted in Europe and known disparagingly as Gypsies, Tzigane, Zigeuner, or Zingaro, the Romani originally came from India, perhaps descendants of a traveling caste of musicians and dancers. Joseph Haydn and Johannes Brahms, pillars of the austro-germanic (serious!) music tradition, were no strangers to music of the street and the tavern. Haydn took glee in writing rolicking gypsy minuets and rondos, as in his String Quartet Op. 76 no. 2. Likewise, Brahms found some of his most fertile musical inspiration from the Hungarian gypsies, as in the last movement of his G minor Piano Quartet, marked “alla zingarese”, or “in gypsy style”.

Not entirely unlike the music of the Romani, Klezmer music was born of persecution and traveled with the Jewish people of Russia and Eastern Europe. Meaning “instrument of song”, Klezmer music has blessed births, weddings and burials generation by generation. Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov’s Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind takes inspiration from the great kabbalist rabbi of Provence. Golijov writes that Isaac the Blind believed “that all things and events in the universe are product of combinations of the Hebrew alphabet’s letters: Their root is in a name, for the letters are like branches, which appear in the manner of flickering flames, mobile, and nevertheless linked to the coal.” Golijov finds that Issac the Blind’s conviction still resonates today, asking “don’t we have scientists who believe that the clue to our life and fate is hidden in other codes?”