Creating a Legacy – Birgit Albrecht

Birgit Albrecht Démira Amsterdam Klezmer Band Yxalag Klezmer Band

With just a few days to go before the highly anticipated Klezmorimalta Nights hits the stage at Pjazza Teatru Rjal in Valletta, eve.com.mt chats to Birgit Albrecht, one of the founders of the Klezmorimalta Foundation, about the NGO’s beginnings, its purpose, and what makes klezmer music a very special genre.

How did you start out in the industry?

My work as a dancer brought me in contact with many different types of music, and as time went by, I became fascinated with traditional music and the way it is created.

What my husband Ralph and I would like to do is to go back to an initial way of playing music and, instead of a factory-like system which is linked to an industry, we would like to take it back to a craft and an art. That means that musicians have to perform their art to a very high and professional level and this is why we kick-started the Klezmorimalta Foundation.

What brought you to Malta and what do you love about it?

Oh, it was a coincidence! We were looking to go on holiday to a warm country whilst we were half-frozen in an old farmhouse in the south of France. Then, we realised that one of our passports had expired, so we had to stay in Europe.

Looking at the map, we realised that Malta is situated in the middle of the Mediterranean and is part of Europe. Since then, we became firm believers that, when you come to Malta, you have to keep coming back! We simply love the fact that people are so nice and kind, and the weather is always good!

How do you feel about being part of the Maltese cultural scene?

We are very pleased to live in Malta and we believe the island has a great future ahead of it. But the island also has a very rich history and you can literally feel its resonance in the stones. Malta is an ideal backdrop for many art forms and for us, it is a real challenge to introduce new influences to Malta’s cultural scene.

In your own words, how would you describe Klezmer music?

Klezmer music is a very emotional expression of the story of life. There is permanent celebration in it and it makes you dance, laugh and cry.

What was your journey like when you were organising Klezmorimalta Nights?

At the beginning, we were looking at three different venues on the island, but from the moment we got in touch with Jason Masini, the manager of Pjazza Teatru Rjal, we were sold. The fact that it is an open-air theatre makes it so much more interesting, and we love the fact that even the people outside the theatre can interact.

Klezmer music is a genre that fits in perfectly within the landscape of the Maltese islands but, when we speak to people about our project, it shows that they don’t know what Klezmer music is. Of course, this makes it a big challenge for us to introduce this type of music, but we hope that people will be interested to discover something new.

Do you have any plans for other events in the future?

Yes, we have plenty of ideas for the future. First of all, we would like to organise an exchange between music students and artists from other countries because it is very important to us that musicians have the possibility to see what is going on in other countries. Apart from that, we’d also like to see a renewed sense of respect for playing acoustic instruments and to stimulate the creation of music writing and song writing.

Klezmorimalta Nights will take place on 29th and 30th August at Pjazza Teatru Rjal in Valletta. The two-night event will feature the Amsterdam and Yxalag Klezmer Bands along with Dutch singer-songwriter Démira. Tickets may be purchased from www.ticketline.com.mt

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