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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       July 1, 1996 V4, #117
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Former Mossad Director: International Effort Against Terrorism Should be Renewed

Former Mossad Director Shabtai Shavit said he hopes that the terrorist attack on U.S. soldiers in Saudi Arabia will reinvigorate the international cooperation against terrorism begun at the Sharm el-Sheikh conference.

Shavit identified Syrian President Hafez el-Assad as the principle agent who impaired the follow-up conference to the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting. Shavit noted it has taken considerable time for the world to conclude that Israel is not overstating its claim that terrorism is not a local, but an international phenomenon needing to be combated. Any international organization for fighting terrorism, said the former Mossad chief, needs to convene regularly and not be based on a one-time meeting.

Itzhak Perlman & Klezmer Music

By Bernie Bernard (VOA-Washington)

On his trip to eastern Europe last year, renowned classical violinist Itzhak Perlman rediscovered his roots when he performed klezmer, the ancient, traditional form of Jewish music originally played by itinerant musicians. Although he grew up hearing klezmer music, he never had a chance to play it. Perlman finally got together with some well-known klezmer musicians to record the album entitled "In the Fiddler's House."

Klezmer is a soul-stirring music that can be joyous and up tempo, or plaintive and wailing like the voices of Jewish pilgrims who stand before the Temple Wall in Jerusalem. Klezmer is typified by the bending of notes, similar to a style found in the synagogue. Traditionally played on string instruments, klezmer music of the 19th century evolved to include brass and woodwinds, such as the clarinet.

The klezmer style was brought to the United States by Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe and Russia, and was especially popular in the neighborhoods of large cities like New York. There are now more than 100 klezmer groups in America, such as the Klezmatics and Brave Old World, who often put a more modern spin on the centuries-old art form.

Israeli-born Perlman began his career as a child prodigy and has become one of the world's best known classical violinists. He has always been one to search out unusual or off-beat pieces, and has even been known to incorporate folk and jazz into his repertoire. Perlman tells how, for generations, klezmer was considered the heart and soul of Jewish communities.

"The actual meaning of the word klezmer is 'instrument of song.' Basically, it was a bunch of groups that used to go in eastern Europe that varied from two people, one person, five people, 10 people. They would play this wonderful music for happy occasions, for weddings, for bar mitzvahs."

Growing up in Israel, Perlman was memorizing arias from operas at age 3. He admits that klezmer wasn't part of his childhood.

"Not really. I heard it all over the place. It was on the radio and I would always be very, very excited when I heard it, but it never occurred to me to actually try and play it."

While working on a project for PBS, Perlman explains how he finally had a chance to immerse himself in klezmer music on a trip to eastern Europe.

"What happened was, I got a call from PBS and they said 'We would like to do a documentary on traditional Jewish music, klezmer music, and would you be the host, would you narrate and maybe play a couple of minutes?' And I said, 'Well, only a couple of minutes.' So then I tried to do it and it was so infectious that I just couldn't stop."

When he actually played klezmer for the first time, Perlman says he was able to immediately improvise with the soulful, passionate music of his ancestors. It just came naturally. That was the sign. It came naturally, it wasn't foreign to me, it was so close to me, so I decided to go a little further. The result is, this summer we're doing a six-concert tour with all these wonderful, wonderful groups -- Brave Old World, the Klezmatics, Klezmer Conservatory Band and Andy Statman. We're playing at Radio City Music Hall."

Perlman's album "In the Fiddler's House" contains performances with all four groups. The songs have various themes, from prayers to party and wedding tunes, dance music, poignant love ballads, and street melodies.

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