Shropshire Music Trust’s most recent contribution to the music scene [at Prestfelde School] was a triumph and also provided some reflection and an opportunity to contribute to funds for supporting Ukraine.
Together, the five musicians of Moishe’s Bagel form a melting pot of music: jazz, occasional nods to classical music, tango and music from Eastern Europe, especially klezmer, meld to make an exciting programme. These charismatic players: percussionist Guy Nicolson, Greg Lawson who doubles on violin and mandolin, Phil Alexander, mainly on piano but occasionally on accordion and also the less well known melody horn, accordionist Pete Garnette and double bass player Mario Caribe – are all virtuosi yet have an amazing sense of ensemble and always pay close attention to their colleagues.
The hallmark of their music making is its emotional intensity; ”I will not be sad in this world”, an Armenian tune opened the show. The violin playing was serene, lyrical and would have been worthy of a performance of Bach but the next piece “The Silver Wedding”, was a roller coaster. The wedding theme wasn’t restricted to this piece – Jewish weddings are occasions for massive, energetic celebrations expressing hope, anticipation, joy and love.
The musicians are great communicators; their body language left us in no doubt of the delight they shared in the music and they were generous with their time in the interval and after the concert when they talked about their work. A lovely slow number, “Natalie the nomad”, gave great scope for the sensitive interplay between the instruments, while a tune with a real Scottish feel caught the vibe of a much-loved work by Peter Maxwell Davies yet without a hint of plagiarism.
Three of the players paid tribute to their parents or grandparents. Phil introduced “A hat of air”, a jokey reference to his dad’s habit of wearing a hat, Mario’s composition “Rumba Salvadoro” was a tribute to his formidable mum while Greg delivered a moving tribute to his forbears and the ordeal they experienced in leaving Nazi Germany. In a way, this underlined the theme of the evening, the notion of the journey; several pieces of music were inspired by a feeling of place-a bar in Prague; a visit to Algeria or an edgy moment in a back street convenience store.
Emotional though the whole evening was, nothing was more so than their chosen encore; “Dobranotsh” is a Ukrainian tune. No heart in that hall could have failed to be moved by the serene yet intense performance, a blessed moment to reflect on our troubled times.