February 19, 2001
Concert Manager

AMHERST, Mass.—Klezperanto, a hot new world beat dance band from Boston, will host a party at the Campus Center Frontroom at Amherst College at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 10. The event is free and the public is invited.

Klezperanto has solid roots in the klezmer tradition, a lively folk dance music that grew in the Yiddish communities of Eastern Europe, and combines technical virtuosity with a wry sense of humor. But as the Boston Globe has noted, Klezperanto is “not your zayde’s klezmer. Clarinetist Ilene Stahl heads up this whirlwind of a band, which turns Klezmer, zydeco, rockabilly and various other ethnic sounds into a dance mix so potent it should carry a warning label.”

Klezperanto joins Mediterranean melodies in original arrangements that dip into zydeco, rockabilly, funk, New Orleans second-line, cumbia, Balkan brass band surf music and whatever else the band is into on a given night. According to Stahl, a graduate of Hampshire College in Amherst, “the unifying idea is that of an irresistible dance groove. If music is a universal language, then dance music is even more so, because the urge to move to a beat is so primal.”

The name Klezperanto plays with this universal ideal. It evokes memories of Yiddish, which combined Hebrew, Slavic and German elements into a lingua franca for Jews in the Diaspora. Dr. Ludwig Zamenhoff, a Yiddish-speaking Jew from Bialystok, further expanded this idea with the invention of Esperanto, a pan-European language that he hoped would bring understanding between people spanning national boundaries and cultural distinctions. “Klezperanto is a new universal language,” Stahl says, ‘the one you speak with your feet.”

Klezperanto, featured on NPR’s “The Connection with Christopher Lydon” and “The World,” returns to Western Massachusetts after an electrifying performance at Mass MoCA last August. The band has a Website with audio clips at http://www.klezperanto.com.The Klezperanto party is sponsored by the Amherst College Program Board and Music Department and Hillel of Amherst and Smith Colleges.