Big mix gets the park jumping


The organisers of last Sunday's Klezmer in the Park must have friends in very high places. Saturday's rain showers did not auger well for the Jewish Music Institute's annual celebration of all things klezmer, but by Sunday morning, the skies had cleared and Regent's Park was at its glorious best.

The crowds turned out for this, the ninth, music festival, and in the green and pleasant surrounds of the park's bandstand, enjoyed an afternoon of international entertainment.

Subtitled "The Big Mix", the event featured a number of Klezmer troupes, each of which had invited guests from around the world specialising in another musical genre. So The Sabbey Drummers from Ghana accompanied Don Kipper, while a Gnawa master (it sounds like something from Star Wars, but Gnawa is actually a type of African mystical music) joined The Turbans and The London Bulgarian Choir.

Kipper had the joint, or rather the park, jumping with his infectious melodies, which owed less to Fiddler on the Roof and more to Middle Eastern, Greek and even Bhangra rhythms. And while not exactly a mosh pit, the area around the stage was filled with people happily swaying and whirling to the pulsating sounds.

The London Winchevsky Ensemble with The London Yiddish Choir belted out some rousing songs, then gamely proceeded to march through the crowd under a giant banner proclaiming "The Yiddish Parade".

Each act was introduced by BBC Radio 3 DJ Max Reinhardt, channeling his inner Bay City Roller in a purple and red tartan suit. He coped well with the inevitable delays whilst sound checks took place (this was a Jewish event after all; it was never likely to run exactly on time). Not that anyone was really bothered - the blue skies and sunshine had put everybody in a good mood.

It was a truly mixed audience: young and old, and everything in between. Very Orthodox men rubbed shoulders (metaphorically at least) with young girls in strappy tops and shorts, Jews of all affiliations or none, and non-Jews too, enjoying the music.

The weather may have been hot, but the music was hotter. And for a few hours, a small spot of central London - within site of the huge mosque which borders the park - beat with a Yiddishe heart.

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