We sat down with Uri Sharlin, the instructor of the Intro Jewish Music for Non-Professional Musicians class, beginning on Wednesday, September 30th. Uri is a Brooklyn-based composer, accordionist player, and arranger. He has worked with prominent musicians Antony and the Johnsons, Natalie Merchant, Avi Avital and Frank London. Uri was also featured as a pianist and composer in the acclaimed HBO series Flight of the Conchords. He is currently leading several groups including the Cardamon Quartet and the DogCat Ensemble and is the creator of Play Me a Story, a musical storytelling performance program for children.
What excites you most about teaching Intro to Jewish Music?
Uri: It is always exciting for me to teach music, and to teach a hands-on class is what I enjoy the most. I am looking forward to have a group of people who have never played together before, and some of whom haven’t touched their instrument for a while, and help them sound good! I will teach various styles and genres within Jewish music and focus on building practical performance skills the students can continue developing and using beyond the class. This program is geared toward performance, and we will have a few of my colleagues join us and enrich our perspective on performance throughout the semester.
Tell us about your experience with Jewish music.
Uri: I have been involved in the Jewish music world in New York for many years. This summer only I was in Mexico playing Moroccan Jewish music with the master Emil Zerihan, and the following week, teaching up at KlezKanada. I went from a van in the Mexican desert where everybody but me spoke Moroccan to a camp where pretty much everybody is interested in Yiddish…
How did this idea come about?
Uri: For the past few years I have been running the Tikun Leil Shavuot jam session at the 14th Street Y. It is one of my favorite nights here in the city, where musicians meet and create a new piece of music together, in the middle of the night, with the support of amazing crowds of all backgrounds. More than once I had people approach me and say something like – ‘I used to play the accordion, but never like that…how do you guys do it?’ Well, this class is all about that. Ronit (Ronit Muszkatblit, Artistic Director of LABA) was always very supportive of my music and so the class was a natural collaboration for us.
What do you hope to accomplish with the class?
The main goal is to get students of all levels who are playing an instrument, even if not professionally, to gain deeper insight into Jewish music and ensemble playing. We will explore a different genre every week or two. The level of the class, the chosen repertoire, and the demands from the students will be based on the level of the student and their participation. We will do everything possible to accommodate students of all levels and instruments.
Wednesdays, September 30th – December 9th from 7:00 – 8:30pm at the 14th Street Y
For more information, email URI at firstname.lastname@example.org