Chai For All began 15 years ago as klezmer/jazz duo comprising Knud Stuwe (guitar) and David Mowat, (stories and trumpet). They came to Greenbelt in 2005 when David, a Quaker, told his tale of walking as a lone pilgrim from Bristol to Jerusalem. Over the years, the group has grown to include a derabukka and oud player, an actor, a singer and a clarinet virtuoso.
Longing Belonging and Balfour is their latest composition – a musical re-telling of the Balfour Declaration story of 1917. In it, Chai for All will be joined by star violinist Flora Curzon (She’koyekh), renowned storyteller Michael Loader, British-Israeli platinum record producer Mark Smulian and a Palestinian artist – melding klezmer Arabic and other idioms together.
The show will draw from Chaim Weizmann’s autobiography Trial and Error to build understanding of the proto-Zionist narrative, the oral testimony of Walter Williams (preserved at Imperial War Museum), an ordinary soldier from Weston Super Mare who fought for General Allenby in Jerusalem, to understand some of the British Empire angle, and Jewish liturgy and Christian hymns illustrating Balfour’s Christian Zionist sympathies. A tough and foreboding edge to the show is provided by a Palestinian woman’s (sung) perspective, whose people would later suffer the ‘Nakba’.
Photo Credit: Claudio Ahlers