Latest Press

April 19th, 2015

Article on Klezmer residency at UVA with Daniel Kahn and Jake Shulman-Ment

Article on Klezmer residency and concert

Latest Writing

April 5th, 2014

Entry “Niggun” in Encyclopedia of Jewish History and Culture

EJGK IV cover

Niggun. In: Enzyklopädie jüdischer Geschichte und Kultur (Encyclopedia of Jewish History and Culture) Vol. 4, ed. Dan Diner. Stuttgart: Verlag J.B. Metzler, 2013: 368-70..

Metzler Verlag

Latest Program

March 10th, 2013

R2G Klezmer Trio (Rubin Rushefsky & Greenman)

Rubin Rushefsky & Greenman

R2G Klezmer Trio
Rubin Rushefsky & Greenman

Joel Rubin (clarinet)
Pete Rushefsky (tsimbl)
Steve Greenman (violin)

New York debut concert, Tues. December 17, 2013 at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, 30 W. 68th St., NYC New York Klezmer Series

R2G is a dynamic new trio formed by longtime stars of the klezmer revival, Joel Rubin, Pete Rushefsky, and Steve Greenman. R2G performs original compositions and improvisations in addition to their own arrangements of the classic East European Jewish instrumental klezmer music and mystical hasidic nigunim (melodies of spiritual elevation). With its virtuosic style and sumptuous, richly ornamented sound, their music is at once a meditation on the Russian-Jewish musical legacy and an expansion of it into the present. The trio also experiments with extended structures, such as “concert form klezmer” suites that meld the traditional klezmer genres with Ottoman Turkish concepts of art music for listening. The concert form expands the expressive possibilities of klezmer music and provides a pathway for the musicians to create performances that develop more extended musical narratives. But the group can cut it up on the dance floor as well. “Inspiring, jaw-dropping and foot stomping,” raved Beth Cohen, director of the annual KlezmerQuerque Festival.

R2G is available for concerts, dances, lecture-demonstrations, master classes and workshops, and college and university residencies.

Joel Rubin has been one of the leading figures in the international klezmer movement as performer, scholar, author and educator for the past thirty years, earning accolades from sources as diverse as klezmer giants Dave Tarras and Max Epstein, international clarinet soloist Richard Stoltzman, avant garde composer John Zorn, and Nobel Prize Laureate and poet Roald Hoffmann. Dr. Eleonore Büning of Southern German Radio writes, “Rubin … is the most virtuosic klezmer clarinetist in the world today … He commands this art like nobody else.” He studied clarinet with Stoltzman and Kalmen Opperman and holds a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from City University (London) for his pioneering work on klezmer music. In addition to performances with traditional musicians such as the Epstein Brothers, Moussa Berlin, Leon Schwartz, Sid Beckerman, and Danny Rubinstein, Rubin was a founding member of the pioneering revival group Brave Old World, the duo Rubin & Horowitz, and has led the Joel Rubin Ensemble since 1994. He has also toured with the Klezmatics and the Klezmer Conservatory Band, and has performed with Daniel Kahn and The Painted Bird. Rubin has recorded seven albums of his music. Midnight Prayer (Traditional Crossroads) was ranked one of the most important recordings of 2007 by the Jewish Week, and Azoy Tsu Tsveyt (Tzadik) with acclaimed composer and improviser Uri Caine, was chosen by as one of 10 favorites in the category Improv & Avant-Garde for 2011. Rubin has appeared at the Berlin Philharmonic, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Cité de la Musique in Paris, the Tonhalle in Zürich, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. He is Associate Professor and Director of Music Performance at the University of Virginia, where he also leads the UVA Klezmer Ensemble.

Steve Greenman is recognized internationally as one of the finest practitioners of traditional East European Jewish klezmer violin. Described by the Washington Post as “particularly impressive,” and as “extraordinary” by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Greenman is the producer and lead performer of the landmark recordings Stempenyu’s Dream and Stempenyu’s Neshome, which contain his original klezmer and Jewish spiritual compositions. Co-founder of the Khevrisa ensemble with Walter Zev Feldman, he is also co-producer and lead performer of the recording Khevrisa: European Klezmer Music on the Smithsonian Folkways label. Greenman currently leads the Stempenyu’s Dream ensemble, Di Tsvey with Pete Rushefsky, and the Steven Greenman Klezmer Ensemble, and has performed internationally with Khevrisa, the Joel Rubin Ensemble, the Klezmatics, Budowitz, the Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band, and Kapelye. He has taught at KlezKamp, KlezKanada, KlezFest London, Yiddish Summer Weimar, and Master Class de música tradicional Santiago de Compostela (Spain), and has performed at the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, Poland, at Toronto’s Ashkenaz – A Festival of New Yiddish Culture, and at the International Klezmer Festival in Fürth, Germany. In addition to klezmer music, Greenman is an accomplished performer of Hungarian nota and urban East European Romani (“Gypsy”) music and is a performer with the ensemble Harmonia. As a concert performer, he has been a guest soloist with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, the Canton Symphony and the Akron Symphony, performing his own arrangements of traditional East European Romani (“Gypsy”) violin music and klezmer music.

Pete Rushefsky is a leading performer, composer and teacher of the tsimbl (cimbalom), the traditional hammered dulcimer of klezmer music. He has performed internationally at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Concertgebouw (Amsterdam) and Cité de la Musique (Paris). Rushefsky has concertized and recorded with classical violinist Itzhak Perlman and has played with many of klezmer and Jewish music’s leading performers, including Cantor Yitzchok Meir Helfgott, Andy Statman, the Klezmer Conservatory Band, Alicia Svigals, Michael Winograd, Lisa Gutkin, Michael Alpert, Adrianne Greenbaum, and Jake Shulman-Ment. He performs regularly in the duo Di Tsvey with Steve Greenman and with the Joel Rubin Ensemble. His CD with violinist Elie Rosenblatt, Tsimbl un Fidl: Klezmer Music for Hammered Dulcimer and Violin, was ranked a “gem” by Rainlore’s World of Music, which “must be considered essential in any klezmer collection.” A popular instructor at workshops such as KlezKanada, KlezKamp and Yiddish Summer Weimar, Rushefsky is the author of a pioneering instructional book on adapting the American 5-string banjo for klezmer, and frequently publishes and lectures on ethnic music in America. He also serves as Executive Director of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance in New York City, dedicated to maintaining the vitality of immigrant performing arts traditions. The Center’s An-sky Institute for Jewish Culture works to research and preserve Jewish music and dance traditions.

Selected excerpts:

Beregovski Shers (trad.)
Ahavas Oylom (Greenman)
Bay di toyren fun beys-hamikdosh (trad.)
Peshrev (Rushefsky)
Tish Nign (trad.)
Nign for Sabbath and Holidays

Joel Rubin
Pete Rushefsky
Steve Greeman

For more information:


“Few, if any, would deny [Joel Rubin] the title of the greatest living klezmer musician”

(Jewish Quarterly, London)

“without a doubt one of the greatest klezmer musicians in the world”

(Radio DRS 2, Switzerland)

“master clarinetist”

(Wall St. Journal Europe)

“Rubin … is probably the most virtuosic klezmer clarinetist in the world today”

(Dr. Eleonore Büning, S2 Kultur/Southern German Radio)

“I can barely see Rubin’s hands move, but he’s going wild. Listen to him, hopping octaves and bending notes so smoothly! Man, that dude shreds like Eddie Van Halen.”

(C-Ville Weekly)

“the researching intellect among the klezmer players”

(Stuttgarter Zeitung)

“Rubin … is clearly an important figure in the rediscovery of the Ashkenazic musical tradition”

(Jewish Herald-Voice)

“[Rubin] … has driven the art of Jewish clarinet playing to new heights … The listener who has experienced Rubin’s breathtaking solos once, is not surprised about the spontaneous outbreaks of applause at every concert.”


“Clarinetist Rubin is considered to be the most important contemporary interpreter of klezmer music.”

(Volkszeitung, Leipzig)

“Joel Rubin has been acclaimed as the greatest clarinetist of the klezmer revival”

(Jewish Socialist, London)

“With a flawless tone that would make many classical interpreters jealous, Rubin playfully and improvisationally drew forth ever new facets, allowing the sound to rejoice and wail in the high register…”

(Münstersche Zeitung, Münster, Germany)

“… Rubin, more than any other I’ve heard, captures the authentic fibrous roughness of a klezmer clarinet…”

(San Francisco Examiner)

“Rubin … [is] now counted among the world’s foremost klezmer musicians.”

(The Oregonian, Portland)

“sheer ability to swing … witness the wailing tone of clarinetist Joel Rubin … – there’s one link with jazz and Gershwin.”

(Los Angeles Weekly)

“[Rubin] has played a leading role in the revival of Jewish music in America, has performed with many East European immigrant musicians and appeared often in radio show and films. Whoever has heard his clarinet playing will never forget it! “

(Allgemeine Jüdische Wochenzeitung, Bonn)

Latest Recording

September 13th, 2014

UVA Klezmer Ensemble, Let’s Dance

UVA Klezmer Ensemble

The UVA Klezmer Ensemble, led by Joel Rubin, is pleased to announce the release of the recording, “Let’s Dance!” The recording was made in April, 2014 and has been available as a free download since August 30, 2014 at:

This recording was made possible by a University of Virginia Mead Endowment Honored Faculty Award in 2013-14, given each year to around ten UVA professors to enable faculty to “bond with a small group of students in meaningful and memorable ways.”

“Let’s Dance!” commemorates the 100th anniversary of the first American klezmer recordings, made by Abe Elinkrig’s Orchestra in New York in 1913. It feature a series of medleys drawn on klezmer and other related traditions (Polish, Greek, Yiddish theater) showing the vibrant intercultural music-making of the day. This is music that was created by immigrant musicians functioning in multicultural European immigrant communities in cities such as New York and Philadelphia, continuing a centuries-old pattern developed out of the cultural interactions between Jews, Poles, Ukrainians, Roma, Greeks, Turks, Romanians, Hungarians, Germans, Czechs, Bulgarians, and Ruthenians. The tunes were culled and arranged by Joel Rubin from early commercial 78 rpm recordings made mostly in the USA in the 1910s and 1920s.

The recording has already received praise from as far away as Israel and Switzerland, and has been featured on Montreal’s Radio Shalom .

For more information, visit: UVA Klezmer Ensemble page