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Pole position: Why Nigel Kennedy and Yiddish jazz are the perfect match

World’s best-selling classical violinist and Polish jazz stars to take over National Concert Hall to mark Poland’s first presidency of the EU.

Making plans for Nigel: Nigel Kennedy and Polish jazz band Kroke are at the National Concert Hall on 27 July
Making plans for Nigel: Nigel Kennedy and Polish jazz band Kroke are at the National Concert Hall on 27 July

THE LINKS BETWEEN Ireland and Poland have not been severed by the collapse of the Irish economy – if anything they have been strengthened.

That’s the message behind an upcoming event in the National Concert Hall which the Polish Embassy is hosting to mark the first Polish presidency of the EU. In what might seem an odd musical couple, Polish jazz stars Kroke will perform with the best-selling violinist of all time, Nigel Kennedy, at the NCH on 27 July. Kroke is Yiddish for ‘Krakow’ and they play original compositions based on the traditional Jewish melodies of East-Central Europe and the folk music of the Balkans.

NCH programming executive Gavin O’Sullivan explained:

The Polish Embassy was keen to do something to mark their presidency of the EU. Kroke are huge in Poland – they play music in the Jewish, Eastern European tradition. It would be familiar to people at Jewish weddings and there are huge festivals of the music in Poland.
As for Nigel Kennedy’s involvement, that was a natural choice. He moved to Poland in the late 1990s and lives in Krakow. He’s married to a Polish lady. He’s so well known as a concert violinist but he has a big jazz background and he met Kroke playing in clubs in Krakow. Being the character he is, he started playing with them. They had their first collaboration in 2001, a project called East Meets East, and they get together on a regular basis for performances and tours.

The collaboration with the Polish Embassy is also not a surprising one. O’Sullivan says an NCH concert organised with the Polish Embassy last year to mark the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth was “very successful”. He hopes Poles living here will likewise be excited by the arrival of Kroke to Dublin.

He said:

For the Concert Hall it’s important for us to engage with such a large Polish community in Ireland. In the boom years, there were so many coming here and some of those were guys in the construction industry and so on who were coming over for six weeks at a time. But the Polish community has stabilised here now – you see how there are still so many Polish shops around; people bought houses here, have their families here.

Polish people do come out and go to concerts, perhaps more than many other communities in Ireland. They have a huge tradition of going to concerts in Poland. Music and culture is a huge part of their lives.

The Nigel Kennedy and Kroke concert takes place on Wednesday, 27 July, at 8pm. Click through to the National Concert Hall website for more information here>

Want a taste for what the Kennedy-Kroke collaboration will sound like? Watch here:

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