Archive for June, 2010

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

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

(Jewish Quarterly, London)

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

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

(Radio DRS 2, Switzerland)

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

“master clarinetist”

(Wall St. Journal Europe)

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

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

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

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

“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)

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

“the researching intellect among the klezmer players”

(Stuttgarter Zeitung)

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

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

(Jewish Herald-Voice)

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

“[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.”

(Folksblatt)

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

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

(Volkszeitung, Leipzig)

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

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

(Jewish Socialist, London)

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

“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)

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

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

(San Francisco Examiner)

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

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

(The Oregonian, Portland)

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

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

(Los Angeles Weekly)

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

“[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)

My little town Zloczow: A Survivor’s Memoir

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Zloczow 1902

Joel Rubin Ensemble with Roald Hoffmann.

Zloczow (now Zolochiv, Ukraine) was a thriving Polish-Jewish-Ukrainian town near Lwow/Lemberg. Then, during three years, 1941-44 the Jewish population perished in the Holocaust. One of the survivors, Roald Hoffmann, tells in his own words, in readings from others, and in poems, the story of the town, its rich religious and cultural heritage (reaching out to America through the Yiddish writer Moshe Leyb Halpern, the photographer Weegee and others). Hoffmann, who was named after the discoverer Roald Amundsen, received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in his new home America, while at the same time becoming known for his poems, essays, and plays. A lifelong connoisseur of music, Hoffmann’s memories of the musical traditions of his home town were revived by the music and research of Joel Rubin. Kindred spirits in their approaches to science, the arts, and religion, they began to perform together, drawing into the moving poetry and memoirs of Hoffmann and Rubin’s musical score the thoughts and the musical traditions of the great hasidic masters, one of whom was Yekhiel Mekhl, the Maggid of Zloczow. The program interweaves text with appropriate musical selections, including hasidic, cantorial and klezmer music from the region of Zloczow.

The Tarras Legacy: Celebrating the King of American Klezmer Music

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Dave Tarras plays a solo photo CTMD Archive

This special program was originally developed for the Center for Traditional Music and Dance in New York, to be performed at the beautifully restored Museum at Eldridge Street’s synagogue sanctuary. It features live performances as well as rare video footage and photographs of Dave Tarras from the Center for Traditional Music and Dance’s Archive. Clarinetist Dave Tarras (1895-1989) remains the most influential and well-known American klezmer musician of all time. Through his compositions, live performances and recordings, the Ukrainian-born virtuoso was the unrivaled leader in the creation of a uniquely American klezmer sound.

While the popularity of klezmer amongst American Jews declined precipitously after WWII, Tarras’s career was reborn in the late 1970’s through a project conducted by the Center for Traditional Music and Dance (then called the Balkan Arts Center). The project played a major role in sparking an international revival of klezmer, and thirty-one years after his death, Tarras remains an indelible force in the performance and conception of klezmer.

Clarinetist and ethnomusicologist Joel Rubin has spent the past two decades specializing in the repertoire of Dave Tarras, with numerous recordings, lectures and publications on the subject. Rubin is Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Music Performance at the McIntire Department of Music of the University of Virginia. He holds a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from City University of London, and his dissertation analyzed the music of New York klezmer clarinetists Dave Tarras and Naftule Brandwein. Rubin is also an internationally acclaimed performer of Jewish instrumental klezmer music and hasidic music, having founded the pioneering revival group Brave Old World and now performing and recording internationally as leader of the Joel Rubin Jewish Music Ensemble. His principal teachers were Richard Stoltzman and Kalmen Opperman.

The program is in two halves. The first half features the duo of Joel Rubin and Pete Rushefsky demonstrating the Old World roots of Dave Tarras. The second half is a recreation of the famous Dave Tarras Trio from the 1930s and 40s, featuring Rubin on clarinet, David Licht on drums, and Art Bailey on accordion, among other musicians.

The Nign of Reb Mendel: Hasidic Songs in Yiddish

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Eli Silberstein photo Anastasia Chernyavsky

The Joel Rubin Ensemble featuring Rabbi Eli Silberstein, voice

The Nign of Reb Mendel is a continuation of Rubin’s exploration of the intersection between the Jewish instrumental klezmer and Hasidic vocal traditions that began with Midnight Prayer. It grew out of the four years Rubin spent documenting the vocal repertoire of Rabbi Silberstein. Whereas Midnight Prayer featured instrumental versions of a number of Hasidic nigunim, this project integrates a Hasidic singer as a member of the klezmer ensemble, something that had not been done since the klezmer revival began in the 1970s. The singing of nigunim has occupied a unique position in Hasidic life since the emergence of the movement in mid-18th century eastern Europe. Songs and, especially, pure melody are seen as being capable of establishing a direct connection to God, without the interference of text. These beautiful melodies, which range from introspective shepherd’s laments to ecstatic dance tunes, have been created over the centuries by Hasidic rabbis and musicians and may be sung at many occasions: in the synagogue, at the Hasidic rebbe’s table, at sabbath and holiday gatherings, at life-cycle celebrations like the wedding, in the home, or today as popular music of Jews the world wide. It is the Yiddish song repertoire as it was cultivated among Hasidic and other religious Jews of eastern European heritage (e.g. Lithuanian ultra-orthodox) for over 250 years that forms the core of The Nign of Reb Mendel. Here we present largely unknown gems, such as the Nign of R. Meir Shapiro of Lublin and Geloybt bistu (Praised Are You), alongside chestnuts such as the Dudele of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev and Vos vet zayn? (What Will Happen?). By combining old Hasidic nigunim with the sound of instrumental klezmer music, the ensemble reunites two worlds, creating an aesthetic close to that which might perhaps have been heard by the Ba’al Shem Tov (founder of the Hasidic movement) or R. Shneur Zalman (founder of Chabad hasidism) and their descendents, yet which is thoroughly contemporary at the same time.

Clarinetist and ethnomusicologist Joel Rubin has long been considered by many to be the leading performer of Jewish instrumental klezmer music in the world today, 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. He studied with Stoltzman and Kalmen Opperman, attended the California Institute of the Arts and received a BFA from the State University of New York at Purchase. Rubin holds a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from City University (London) for his pioneering work on improvisation and ornamentation in klezmer clarinet music. He is currently Assistant Professor and Director of Music Performance at the University of Virginia’s McIntire Department of Music. He has concertized throughout Europe, North America and Asia since the 1980s. In addition to appearances with traditional performers such as the Epstein Brothers, Moshe “Moussa” Berlin, Seymour Rexsite and Miriam Kressyn, Leon Schwartz, Sid Beckerman, Pete Sokolow, Danny Rubinstein, Ben Bazyler, and Leopold Kozlowski, Rubin was the founder and clarinetist of some of the most internationally respected klezmer ensembles, including the pioneering revival group Brave Old World. Rubin’s albums Midnight Prayer (Traditional Crossroads), Beregovski’s Khasene (Beregovski’s Wedding), Bessarabian Symphony, Zeydes un Eyniklekh (Grandfathers and Grandsons) and Hungry Hearts are considered to be masterpieces of classical Eastern European and American Jewish music. His music can be heard in several films, including the recent L’armée du crime (France, 2009), and the award-winning documentary portrait A Tickle in the Heart (Germany/Switz./USA 1996) about the Epstein Brothers Orchestra.

Rabbi Eli Silberstein, vocals, comes from a long line of Hasidic scholars from Russia and can also trace his lineage to the Vilna Gaon, one of the foremost rabbis and scholars of the 18th century. He has been the charismatic leader of the Roitman Chabad Center at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York for over twenty-five years. Rabbi Eli, a noted Talmudic scholar, is renowned for his vast knowledge of Jewish law, philosophy and kabbalah. He lectures and publishes extensively, and has developed many courses for the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. Eli is also a ba’al menagen, a masterful singer and an acknowledged expert on Hasidic nigunim and storytelling.

Joel Rubin Ensemble featuring Rabbi Eli Silberstein, The Nign of Reb Mendel

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Nign of Reb Mendel CD Cover

Joel Rubin Ensemble featuring Rabbi Eli Silberstein
The Nign of Reb Mendel: Hasidic Songs in Yiddish
(Traditional Crossroads CD 4342, New York 2010)

Available since September 15, 2010 and in Europe since November 15, 2010

The Nign of Reb Mendel is a continuation of Joel Rubin’s exploration of the intersection between the Jewish instrumental klezmer and Hasidic vocal traditions that began with Midnight Prayer. Whereas Midnight Prayer featured instrumental versions of a number of Hasidic nigunim, The Nign of Reb Mendel features a traditional Hasidic singer, Rabbi Eli Silberstein, as an integral member of the ensemble. Also featured is the wonderful fiddle playing of David Chernyavsky.

The singing of nigunim has occupied a unique position in Hasidic life since the emergence of the movement in mid-18th century eastern Europe. Songs and, especially, pure melody are seen as being capable of establishing a direct connection to God, without the interference of text. These beautiful melodies, which range from introspective shepherd’s laments to ecstatic dance tunes, have been created over the centuries by Hasidic rabbis and musicians and may be sung at many occasions: in the synagogue, at the Hasidic rebbe’s table, at sabbath and holiday gatherings, at life-cycle celebrations like the wedding, in the home, or today as popular music of Jews the world wide. It is the Yiddish song repertoire as it was cultivated among Hasidic and other religious Jews of eastern European heritage for over 250 years that forms the core of The Nign of Reb Mendel. Here largely unknown gems, such as the Nign of R. Meir Shapiro of Lublin and Geloybt bistu (Praised Are You), are presented alongside chestnuts such as the Dudele of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev and Vos vet zayn? (What Will Happen?). By combining old Hasidic nigunim with the sound of instrumental klezmer music, the ensemble reunites two worlds, creating an aesthetic close to that which might perhaps have been heard by the Ba’al Shem Tov (founder of the Hasidic movement) or R. Shneur Zalman (founder of Chabad Hasidism) and their descendents, yet which is thoroughly contemporary at the same time.

Rabbi Silberstein stems from several generations of Russian Hasidim and is a world renowned religious scholar and singer in the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic community. His singing style and repertoire display this tradition as it is rarely heard outside of the religious communities. The CD is the outcome of the four years Rubin spent documenting Silberstein’s repertoire and the two performing together at events throughout the United States. The Nign of Reb Mendel was recorded in Ithaca, New York by Alex Perialas, best known as the producer and engineer of platinum-selling albums by the heavy metal bands Metallica and Anthrax.

Joel Rubin, C clarinet and musical direction
Rabbi Eli Silberstein, vocals
David Chernyavsky, first violin
Anastasia Chernyavsky, second violin
Hank Roberts, cello
Pete Rushefsky, tsimbl (hammered dulcimer)
Ryan Zawel, trombone
Josh Oxford, percussion

Track list:

Simkhe nigunim (Joyful Melodies) 3:21
Omar hashem (God Said) 6:21
Nign of R. Meir Shapiro 8:09
Riboynoy shel oylom (Master of the Universe) 6:55
Nign of R. Mendel Futterfass 5:09
Nign of R. Mikhl Zloczower 7:31
Vos vet zayn? (What Will Happen?) 5:22
Esn est zikh (Eating Is an Easy Task) 4:55
Geloybt bistu (Praised Are You) 8:28
A dudele 5:54
Nign hisvadus (Melody for a Gathering) 3:34