Aug 4 2010 Harrow Observer
The 10th KlezFest Music Festival is in full flow and LUCY COOK caught up with one of the star performers - The Queen Esther Klezmer Trio on the eve of their CD release.
CLASSICALLY trained musician and former Hatch End resident Emma Stiman hopes to take the Jewish music world by storm with the release of her band's debut album.
Founder member Emma grew up in Grimsdyke Road and despite the busy life of a musician, dividing her time between the UK and Germany, she regularly returns to Harrow to visit friends and family.
The 34-year-old said she found her passion for music during the nine years she studied music at Harrow School for Musicians.
Aged 16, she was offered a scholarship to study classical clarinet at the junior department of the Royal College of Music in London.
She said: "It was wonderful. We went on tour around the country and I was in a few classical orchestras."
Emma was then offered another scholarship at the Birmingham Conservatoire, graduating with a BA in music before forming the band of three.
However, it was a traditional Jewish instrument music festival, the KlezFest Music Festival London in 2002, which first inspired Emma to experiment with the lesser-known genre of upbeat instrumental Jewish dance music known as Klezmer.
Her band, The Queen Esther Klezmer Trio, pays tribute to the style in their self-titled first EP with a fusion of traditional Klezmer tunes and original compositions by Emma herself.
She is joined by Mark Kovnatskij, a Russian violinist, composer and Jewish dance instructor, and Ilya Shneyvey, a Latvian musician who leads another contemporary Yiddish band named Forshpil.
Emma, whose Jewish name Esther inspired the title of the group, returns to the event eight years later as an acclaimed musician who has performed at venues such as the Royal Albert Hall, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Jazz Cafe.
She said: "Music is my whole life, my identity - it's how I express myself. I'm very excited that people will hear my CD. It's been a long process.
"I wrote it mainly for dancing. People are inspired by the movement of the Yiddish language; they can feel the music and dance the melodies.
"The music appeals to people from all walks of life."
Jewish Music Institute director and organiser of KlezFest, Geraldine Auerbach, said: "The event is fuelled by the growing popularity of Jewish culture.
"We are reaching out to musicians from all backgrounds so that more people can enjoy the vast cultural heritage of both the Yiddish language and Klezmer music."
The 10th KlezFest Music Festival began on Sunday (August 1).
The Queen Esther Klezmer Trio album was launched yesterday (Wednesday) at the Brunei Gallery in Russell Square.