Shirim celebrates Hanukah with music from the traditional Eastern European celebration of the holiday, and with music that could only have arisen in the 20th-century melting pot of America, where Hanukah is part of a national multiethnic “holiday season” that encompasses Quanza, Christmas, Hanukah, Solstice and, at times, even Ramadan.
In Klezmer Nutcracker— a klezmerized version of Tchaikovsky’s perennial holiday classic — Shirim recasts the Nutcracker as a Hanukah classic with images of a dancing Potato Latkes Queen and marching Macabees. It emphasizes the Eastern European elements of the score with witty intelligence and playful irreverence, while combining the zany wit of Spike Jones with the class and craft of Duke Ellington.
For more than 20 years Shirim has been delighting audiences with its humor, virtuosity and undeniable soul, from ecstatic traditional Jewish dances, to the poignant wail of the Romanian laments to their unique klezmer-styled versions of pieces, such as Brahms’ “Hungarian Dance,” Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” and Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite.”
The band has collaborated with children’s author/artist Maurice Sendak to create the Parent’s Choice Award-winning “Pincus & the Pig,” a Jewish/klezmer adaptation of “Peter and the Wolf” that can be heard annually during the December holidays on their Gracie Award-winning public radio special “The Golden Dreydl: a Klezmer Nutcracker.”
Shirim is featured on the soundtrack of Woody Allen’s “Deconstructing Harry” and has released seven recordings on the Tzadik, Rykodisc and Newport Classic labels. The band has performed with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops, the Niagara Symphony and has played in Europe and across North America.
“Shirim’s delightful interpretation … a brilliant combination … klezmer and Tchaikovsky” – National Public Radio (Performance Today)
“Totally compelling … Shirim’s genre-crossing conception is a delight and joy”– Billboard Magazine (Critics Choice)
The Shirim Klezmer Orchestra includes: Glenn Dickson (clarinet), Daniel Blacksberg (trombone), Michael McLaughlin (piano and accordion), Brandon Seabrook (banjo), James Gray (tuba) and Eric Rosenthal (drums).