The Bloomfield Hills High School klezmer ensemble is led by band director Alan Posner.

The Bloomfield Hills High School klezmer ensemble is led by band director Alan Posner.

Photo provided by Alan Posner

Bloomfield Hills High School performs klezmer

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published March 6, 2024


BLOOMFIELD HILLS — Klezmer music is now represented within the Bloomfield Hills High School music department, through the  BHHS klezmer ensemble.

Klezmer music comes from the Eastern European Ashkenazi Jewish tradition.

BHHS Band Director Alan Posner said it has been a big part of his life since he was a kid and that he has always done some klezmer music with students during his time as band director.

He decided to form the BHHS klezmer ensemble in spring 2023, when they got an invitation from the Michigan Music Education Association to perform in the first-ever small ensembles concert during the Michigan Music Conference in Grand Rapids. Posner asked a group of students to create an audition video, which ended up being accepted.

The ensemble rehearsed throughout the fall to prepare for the annual Michigan Music Conference in January.

The BHHS klezmer ensemble consists of 12 musicians: sophomore Kathryn Ho on flute/piccolo, sophomore Giulia Guglielmini on flute, senior Molly Socha on violin, senior Talia Reddy on clarinet, junior Jessica Stillwell on alto saxophone, junior Emi Vallejo Rodrigo on trumpet, senior Danny Stern on trumpet, senior Lucy Dickson on trombone, senior Reid Smith on accordion, senior Fiona Rudy on bass, senior Henry Hutchison on percussion and junior Nicolas Kravetz on drums.

Posner said klezmer does not require specific instrumentation, but there are certain instruments that are more historically klezmer instruments, such as violin, clarinet, trumpet, saxophone, bass and percussion.

“Really, you can play klezmer on any instrument,” Posner said. “Everything is really made to imitate the human voice.”

Rudy said she did not know anything about klezmer music prior to joining the ensemble, and it was exciting to experience a different kind of cultural music than what she is used to playing.

“I would probably say that the most interesting part about klezmer music, when compared to the classical music I play, is its element of improvisation,” Rudy said.

Rudy added that with klezmer music, she has had the opportunity to make choices while playing her instrument to reflect the emotion of the scenario.

“It really just kind of opened my eyes to that new realm. As an experience, it was exciting and new and inspired me to think differently about how I play music,” Rudy said.

Posner is thinking about ways to continue to spread the klezmer tradition around the school and local community, and he is considering expanding into a club next year.