Tag Archives: Veretski Pass

Pomegranates and Figs: Musical treats for the holidays

Oakland xxShira Kammen, Danielle Taylor, Kaila Flexer, Rachel Taylor
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An entire generation of East Bay Jews has grown up celebrating Hanukah with Kaila Flexer. Since launching Klezmer Mania! at the Julia Morgan Theater in 1989, the Oakland violinist has produced an annual Jewish music event that brings an international array of talent to local stages. She serves up the fourth version of “Pomegranates & Figs: A Feast of Jewish Music” at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday Dec. 15 at Freight & Salvage.

Opening with a menorah lighting to celebrate the last night of Hanukah, the triple bill with Berkeley’s 
Veretski Pass, a klezmer power trio, the string-centric Oakland Folkharmonic, and the blazing Balkan brass ensemble Inspector Gadje. The evening always ends with an all-hands-on-deck finale.

“Each year has its own flavor,” says Flexer, whose primary musical vehicle in recent years is her extraordinary Near Eastern duo with Berkeley string wizard Gari Hegedus. “We’ve been rehearsing in various combinations, which is how it ought to be with musicians living in close proximity. I’m not so interested in throwing things together.” … Continue reading »

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Klezmer dance party: Veretski Pass plays Berkeley

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The Veretski Pass, a rugged route through the eastern Carpathian mountains, served as the transit point for Jews returning to Hungary after an expulsion in the early 16th century. Once part of Czechoslovakia and now in Ukraine, the pass also brought Gypsies, Ruthenians and Czechs to the region where Berkeley violinist Cookie Segelstein’s father was born. In exploring the music of this lost community, she created Veretski Pass, a chamber klezmer trio that performs Thursday Oct. 18 at the Starry Plough on a triple bill with La Pêche and Balkalicious Fire Drive as part of the pub’s monthly Berkeley Balkan Bachanal series.

Featuring Joshua Horowitz on tsimbl (hammered dulcimer) and button accordion, and Stuart Brotman on bass, baraban (drum), and Carpathian flute, the group reflects Segelstein’s late-blooming fascination with the music imposed on her as a child in Kansas City, Missouri, where her parents, both Holocaust survivors, seemed to have one foot still planted in the Old Country.

“I had a love/hate relationship with this music until I had my own kids,” says Segelstein, who was often pressed to perform klezmer tunes for her parents’ friends gathered at weekly card games. “It felt like someone had lifted the shtetl and dropped it on this street in Kansas City. I wanted to become a Baptist so I could fit in.” … Continue reading »

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