Bringing the world to Southland

The Kugels. Photo: Supplied

FEATURING music that’s both “hauntingly sad and wildly exciting”, Klezmer band The Kugels will be taking Southland audiences on a worldly experience this weekend.

The band features three former New Zealand Symphony Orchestra players, Debbie Rawson, Robin Perks and Jacqueline Norden, along with composer and art laureate Ross Harris.

Rawson said Klezmer was a form of world music.

It was the folk music of the Jewish people from eastern and central Europe, with other influences, she said.

“It’s like really exhilarating, exciting, passionate, kind of folk music, but it’s different again.

“Because the Jewish people have travelled so much, by necessity, the music is full of all kinds of influences.”

This included the Mediterranean area, Europe, Russia, Spain and Egypt, she said.

“It’s very evocative and it’s very appealing to a wide range of people. Everyone seems to love it, there’s something universal about it.”

Rawson said about half of their music would be traditional songs from the Klezmer repertoire, such as ancient Jewish songs and dances.

The other half will be original compositions by accordionist Ross Harris in Klezmer style.

“The music ranges from being hauntingly sad to wildly exciting, so you can’t argue with that.”

She said the style also lent itself to a different way of playing the instruments compared with classical music.

“It’s more of a gypsy style and it’s more free and wild than if you were playing Mozart, Schubert and Brahms.

“You bend and scoop the notes and go crazy… which is wonderful.”

Rawson said she was born in Invercargill and lived here until she was about 6 years old. All of the players had a connection with the South Island, so they were looking forward to performing during the Southland Arts Festival.

“We all absolutely loved the Southland and Otago area, it’s a pretty special place.”

The Kugels, Saturday, 8pm, Repertory House. Sunday, 1pm, Ascot Park Hotel. Sunday 4.30pm, Te Hikoi Museum, Riverton. Book at TicketDirect.

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