One hundred twenty-six strings used to be the standard setting for a klezmer band: one cimbalom, two fiddles, one cello and one double bass. These days this setting is rarely found, especially within an all-female setting. Di Fidl-Kapelye from Amsterdam are the exception.
The group was formed in 2002 by violinist Madelien Verheij and cimbalom player Pit Hermans. Soon violinist Jiska ter Bals and cello player Djoeke Klijzing joined the ensemble. Initially the ‘kapelye’ had a male bass/ud player, but in 2005 he was replaced by bass player Jet Stevens. The five string wizards have various musical backgrounds: classical music, pop and theatre to name but a few. Over the years they visited many jewish music festivals and klezkamps (Weimar, NYC Workmens Circle, Hackesches Hof Theater Berlin, International Jewish Festival Amsterdam) and they worked with people like Alan Bern, Michael Alpert and -especially- Frank London from the Klezmatics.
Trumpets for strings
Initially the group performed mainly traditional klezmer music and they recorded their self-produced album Live in Amsterdam. But their many contacts inspired them to broaden their horizons. Thus they came up with the idea to ask trumpet players to compose new music for a klezmer string band. The new tunes, composed by Frank London (Klezmatics), Gijs Levelt (Amsterdam Klezmer Band), Job Chajes (Amsterdam Klezmer Band), Susan Watts and Eve Monzingo (Chicago Klezmer Ensemble) were connected to older tunes in the same vein.‘We were curious to see what effect this would have on the band’s ‘fidl’ sound. The new compositions provide us with the opportunity to extend the standard repertoire and to explore the boundaries of our style - yet without compromising the klezmer sound’, as the band explains. The result has been laid down on this new album: Trumpets for Di Fidl-Kapelye.
‘Di Fidl-Kapely are an ensemble that is fresh and creative, yet thoroughly rooted in the best of the klezmer tradition.’ (Deborah Strauss)
‘They are clearly hewing their own sound from these sources. And it works, oh does it work... If you have a chance to catch these folks live (you lucky Europeans), you should.’ (Ronan Tsimbler/Roger Reid)