Sherr headshot
Laurence Sherr
Doina & Dances Overture

Doina & Dances Overture for orchestra (2015)
A rhapsodic introduction leads to energetic klezmer-influenced dances
Commissioned by the DeKalb Symphony Orchestra in honor of their 50th anniversary
Duration: 7 minutes

Video and Score Excerpts


Video excerpt 1: opening doina


Score excerpt 1: opening doina



Video excerpt 2: closing dance


Score excerpt 2: closing dance

Kennesaw State University Symphony Orchestra, Nathaniel Parker, Director
Atlanta, USA

Program Notes

Doina & Dances Overture draws on several styles found in klezmer music, the folk music genre that developed in Eastern European Yiddish culture. The overture opens with a slow doina–a Rumanian shepherd’s lament–that allows for rhapsodic expression by clarinet and violin soloists, the instruments most often featured in traditional klezmer doinas. Two upbeat dance sections follow the doina and lead to the central waltz section. While the origin of the waltz melody is unknown, it became the basis for the Yiddish song “A mame” (A Mother) when 15-year-old Khayele Poznanski of Vilna added lamenting lyrics to it after her mother was sent to a camp during the Holocaust. Khayele herself later perished in the Holocaust, but her song survived and appears in the post-war collection Lider fun di getos un lagern (Songs from the Ghettos and Camps). Following the waltz, the faster and more joyous dance sections return to conclude the overture.

The DeKalb Symphony Orchestra commissioned the Doina & Dances Overture for their 50th anniversary season. After music director Fyodor Cherniavsky and I discussed possibilities for the new work, it seemed fitting to draw on the cultural heritage of our common Eastern European ancestry.