We walk by the power of klezmer.

During Laura’s first course of chemo and radiation, I invoked a scene from Mozart’s The Magic Flute in the CaringBridge blog to describe how we would get through this challenge,  As they are about to enter their trial by fire, Pamina and Tamino sing :

We walk by the power of music
through death’s dark night.
Wir wandeln durch des Tones Macht
Froh durch des Todes düstre Nacht.

They emerge successfully, singing:

We passed through the glowing fire
and bravely faced the danger.
May your music protect us in the flood
as it did in the fire.
Wir wandelten durch Feuergluten,
Bekämpften mutig die Gefahr.
Dein Ton sei Schutz in Wasserfluten,
So wie er es im Feuer war.

I’m quoting the German not to be pedantic, but because its rhythms convey the lyricism of the scene, about which I wrote:

They emerge from their trial by water into a brightly lit temple. One of the things I like about The Magic Flute is that we seque immediately from this high seriousness into the loving comedy of Papageno and Papagena. Through the power of music and the music of laughter we will see this through. Just as the trials of Pamina and Tamino and the lyrical joy of Papagena and Papageno are followed by the defeat of the evil Monostratos and the fearsome Queen of the Night.

To be honest, I was less than honest in my CaringBridge blog post.  I omitted the word “death” when I quoted the line about the power of music.  It was only later as death became more and more certain that we spoke openly.  It was also only later, only now, seven years after Laura’s death, that I can understand how the power of music allows us to walk “through death’s dark night.”  Not only did music carry Laura through for 18 months, not only did music evoke Laura’s last sign of conscious awareness, it is music that brings Laura’s presence back to Anne Mei and me now, years after she’s gone.

In that vein, the Princeton Symphony Orchestra concert this past Sunday (January 29, 2017) was very appropriate, coming as it did between Holocaust Remembrance Day and Laura’s anniversary, and on the weekend enflamed by Trump’s immigration executive order.  The first half consisted of Shostakovich’s “Chamber Symphony Op. 110a,” which laments the victim’s of Stalin’s tyranny.  The second half began with a contemporary work “Manarah” by an Arab-American composer, Saad Haddad.  The main feature of the concert was the klezmer clarinetist David Krakauer playing four pieces:

WLAD MARHULETS/ Concerto for Klezmer Clarinet*
OSVALDO GOLIJOV/ K’vakarat
DAVID KRAKAUER/ Synagogue Wail
trad. arr. KRAKAUER/ Der Heyser Bulgar

I’ve inserted links to other versions of three pieces that Krakauer played so that you can get a sense of his music and musicianship.  Unfortunately they can’t convey the emotional experience of Krakauer’s live performance electrifying the Princeton Symphony Orchestra with the power of klezmer.  They could hardly stay in their seats during “Der Heyser Bulgar,” as neither could the audience.

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