Scottish Council of Jewish Communites
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities

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Scottish Council of Jewish Communities
Representing, connecting, and supporting Jewish people in Scotland

“Waiting for the Nightingale” –
Virtual Klezmer goes live!


21 March 2020

Click here to watch the concert!


“The chassidim said that in bad times it is important to live as happy a life as possible and you have made me very happy.  A dank!”.

"Waiting for the Nightingale" – Virtual Klezmer goes live!

SCoJeC had arranged for internationally-renowned Klezmer and Yiddish song performers Sasha Lurje, Craig Judelman, and Michael Alpert to play four concerts around Scotland, before going south to perform at Kleznorth festival, the annual Klezmer and Yiddish song festival in Derbyshire.   We managed to stage the concerts in St Andrews and Edinburgh before the big shut-down, but had to cancel the events planned for the Tchai-Ovna tea house in the West End of Glasgow and a House Concert in Whiting Bay, Arran, hosted by the Arran Jewish Cultural Centre – both intimate spaces where the ‘social distancing’ required to stop the virus spreading would not be possible.

However, it turned out that the three musicians were together in Fife for a few days before Sasha and Craig could get home to Germany, so, in the strangest of circumstances, in this new reality, we upgraded our Zoom account to accommodate a ‘large meeting’ – increasing the size of the ‘room’ from 100 to 500 participants. We reached out to all the people who had booked for the cancelled concerts and for the festival, which had also been cancelled, and also sent the information out through our own networks and on social media.  In these troubled times of the coronavirus health emergency, when everyone is being advised to practise ‘social isolation’, it turned out that a virtual Klezmer concert seemed to be exactly what everyone needed to lift their spirits – and by 7.30 pm, half an hour before the concert was due to start, we had to upgrade again to accommodate an audience of between 500 and 1000!

"Waiting for the Nightingale" – Virtual Klezmer goes live!

In the end, 634 people from 28 different countries registered with us for the performance!  So, from an initial idea of two small concerts, one in a tea house in Glasgow and one in a beautiful private  house on Arran, SCoJeC, working with the Kleznorth festival, was able to broadcast powerful Klezmer music and soulful Yiddish song to the world from the wilds of the East Neuk of Fife, at a time when a message of connection and togetherness is very much needed.  

So in the end, Waiting for the Nightingale: a Klezmer and Yiddish Song Heymishe Kontsert, “brought to your living room from the East Neuk of Fife in Scotland” went out live to the world.  Even though some people had trouble adapting to the new reality, logging on the concert, or hearing it, or leaving their video on without realising it, others were very much part of the evening, using the ‘chat’ function to comment throughout the evening, often in Yiddish as well as English. Many people also participated virtually, dancing, clapping, and in some cases even playing along with the music, so we felt that we were all in an enormous, international, shared experience. 

If you missed it, don't worry!
The internet is forever, so you can still watch – and sing, and dance, and join in – here.

Many of the participants left fantastically positive and encouraging comments. Here are just a few:

This was just great! What a fabulously intimate musical journey.

Social distancing is such a weird term – we need to embrace physical distancing, and social connection. Thank you for helping us do that today.

This internet sound is exactly like the old-time wax cylinder. Sounds very authentic.

A brilliant, inspiring and very heymish concert! A dank, sayd unds gesund un shtark! 
[Thank you.  May we be healthy and strong]

I feel so moved seeing everyone in our homes wherever we are at dealing with the anxiety of the unknown … reaching out and reaching in.

So moving to see all these folks united despite our physical isolation. Thanks, indeed, for helping to bridge these divides.

Thank you so, so much. You’ve brought a smile to my face and tears to my eyes.

If you have to be stuck in a shtetl, you could do a lot worse than Crail!

Gor a hartsikn dank farn kontsert! S'iz geven a mekhaye!!!
[A hearty Thank You for the concert.  It was a delight.]

Perfect music to send out the uplifting message that this too shall pass.

I can't believe we're all having to sit completely isolated - this is so 'connecting'.

I feel happy and sad, connected and disconnected. In some ways it feels very close, like in my home, and then I see you all in your homes, so it all feels both closer and more distant …

It feels like an intimate concert even though we’re scattered all over the world!

This is wonderful! Thank you so much. It makes the hardships we are undergoing gone for a little while. And it feels like a community, as if we aren’t isolated.

A tonic in troubled times. A hartziger dank
[A hearty Thank You!]

I am so happy I am crying.

Hope things like this blossom. A great feeling to be present at a live production especially as I live on my own.

A sheynem dank [A nice Thank you!] Meyshke, Sasha, and Craig for your marvellous concert that lifted spirits throughout the world! Love and virtual hugs!

I thought it brought something extra special which would not have come through in a onstage face to face concert. There was the informality of it – including George the cat! We were a bit closer to the musicians. There was also a connection with the 'audience' which you wouldn't normally  get … reading everyone's comments as the concert proceded … and then there was the connection with people from all over the world not just those who could physically attend Kleznorth or the SCoJeC events. History in the making I think!

Thank you band and Fiona a thousand times. This has been wonderful for our poor confused hearts and neshomas. Do not underestimate your impact.

Everyone's leaving the concert – if I close my eyes, I feel as if I'm actually at the end of a concert: AMAZING!!!!!

If you were at this concert and/or if you’d like to contribute to support this event and help us to put on more such activities, please do so here for SCoJeC and here for Kleznorth.

And if you weren’t at the concert but would like to register to hear about future such events, please sign in here.

SCoJeC, Kleznorth, and the Arran Jewish Cultural Association are grateful for the support of the Jewish Music Institute, Netherlee and Clarkston Charitable Trust, and the Alma and Leslie Wolfson Charitable Trust.


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Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation no. SC029438