New York City typically offers up lots of live music options on any given day or night. Rock, jazz, ethnic, classical, experimental, kazoo, whatever; you will find it. So many options can seem dizzying at times.

I knew that a certain 1970s rock band was playing a show tonight, Saturday, October 1 and at first I was interested in seeing the concert. But I wimped out and instead saw a classical music program at my Brooklyn synagogue, the East Midwood Jewish Center. And I'm glad that I attended, because in this casual, neighborhood setting I listened to an excellent program that was at times challenging, at other times soothing.

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A German group called Ensemble 4.1, which calls itself a "piano windtet" consisting of piano, oboe, bassoon, clarinet  and French horn, played a set of pieces that I enjoyed thoroughly. They played a work by Beethoven and others by more obscure composers (one Swiss, one a contemporary of Brahms), as well as "Jerusalem Mix" by Israeli composer Avner Dorman. That one was challenging at times, even discordant (especially a segment in which a few of the winds played a slightly off-tune A that jarred my pitch-perfect ears). It mixed various musical genres and often seemed jazz-tinged or klezmer-rooted.

There is something particularly engrossing and ultimately rewarding about watching live music, especially classical pieces. It is greater than just flipping on a switch, tuning into the radio or YouTube videos. My friend Jacqui and I, and the other members of the audience (there were about 100 people there), could listen but also watch. I enjoyed watching the musicians handle their instruments and make adjustments at times, watch the players sway energetically and especially relish watching the pianist as he sometimes stood and plucked inside the piano, and for one section of "Jerusalem Mix" he played with small hammers on some piano strings, as if it were a hammered dulcimer. The sound was striking.

As much as I enjoyed this performance for the pure delight of live music, I  have to admit that there was something intriguing about witnessing a German quintet play live music at a Brooklyn synagogue, and include a piece of Israeli origin in its program. And all this was just a full day prior to our new year, 5777. And let's be honest: the High Holidays liturgy is something of a performance, even for those of us who attend shul weekly and even daily. The majesty and special qualities of the Yom Tov music is intended to capture your attention, whether you are a regular at synagogue or a "three days a year" type of worshiper. So this classical music program kind of whet my appetite for the New Year's concert and the prayers it envelopes.

Here's to a blessed 5777 and all its potential.

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