(includes a complete list of recordings and publications and a representative sample of performances)
Clarinetist and ethnomusicologist Joel Rubin is Associate Professor of Music and Director of Music Performance in the McIntire Department of Music at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where he is also on Jewish Studies faculty. He attended the California Institute of the Arts and received a BFA in clarinet performance from the Purchase Conservatory (State University of New York, College at Purchase, 1978). His principal teachers were Richard Stoltzman and Kalmen Opperman. Rubin holds a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from City University of London (2001) for his pioneering work on improvisation and ornamentation in klezmer clarinet music.
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. In addition to performances with traditional musicians such as the Epstein Brothers, Moshe “Moussa” Berlin, Seymour Rexsite and Miriam Kressyn, Leon Schwartz, Sid Beckerman, Pete Sokolow, Danny Rubinstein, Ben Bazyler, Leopold Kozlowski, and the traditional Hasidic singer, Rabbi Eli Silberstein, he was the founder and clarinetist of some of the most internationally respected klezmer ensembles, including the Joel Rubin Ensemble (Joel Rubin Jewish Music Ensemble), the R2G Klezmer Trio with Steve Greenman and Pete Rushefsky, and the pioneering revival group Brave Old World. Rubin collaborates regularly with the acclaimed trio Veretski Pass, and in duo with Alan Bern, Uri Caine, and Pete Rushefsky. He has made guest appearances with the Klezmatics, the Klezmer Conservatory Band, the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, and Daniel Kahn and the Painted Bird, and on the prize-winning Alpen Klezmer recording project by Andrea Pancur and Ilya Shneyveys, among others.
Rubin’s newest recording project, Poyln: A Gilgul, with Veretski Pass, appeared in October 2015 on Golden Horn Records. His seventh solo album, Azoy Tsu Tsveyt, with acclaimed composer and jazz pianist Uri Caine, came out on John Zorn’s Tzadik label in July 2011 and was chosen as one of 10 favorites in the category Improv & Avant-Garde for 2011 by exclaim.ca. Rubin’s CD Midnight Prayer was named one of the most important recordings of 2007 by the Jewish Week. Rubin’s albums Nign of Reb Mendel, 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 French feature film, L’armée du crime (The Army of Crime, 2009), and the award-winning documentary portrait A Tickle in the Heart (Germany/Switz./USA, 1996), which is based on his research and screenplay.
Rubin has concertized throughout Europe, North America and Asia since the 1980s, including appearances at the Berlin Philharmonic, the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and Carnegie Hall. As a clinician, he has taught together with Kalmen Opperman and Richard Stoltzman at the Clarinet Summit (2004) and held master classes and workshops at the University of Oregon, the New England Conservatory of Music, Indiana University, Yale University, Syracuse University, for the Israeli and Berlin Ministries of Education, and at Yiddish Summer Weimar, the International Master Classes in Safed (Israel), KlezKanada, KlezKamp, the International Klezmer Festival in Fürth Germany, and KlezFest London, among others. During the first eight years of KlezKamp, Rubin taught an entire generation of well-known revival clarinetists, including David Krakauer, Kurt Bjorling and Ilene Stahl.
Rubin wrote the first full-length doctoral thesis on Jewish instrumental klezmer music, combining extensive ethnographic work among the oldest surviving generation of American klezmer musicians, such as the Epstein Brothers, Marty Levitt and Sid Beckerman, with historical and analytical methods to examine the cultural and musical milieu of eastern European Jewish immigrant wedding instrumentalists in New York in the early 20th century. Further research interests include: music and trauma; music and professionalism; music and diaspora; music and identity; music and religion; folk music revivals; musical hybridity; Hasidic music; American Jewish popular music; Jewish musical traditions of the Middle East and beyond; art and urban popular traditions of the Balkans, Turkey and the Middle East; and klezmer and “gypsy” influences on independent rock and neo-cabaret music. Rubin is co-author of the books Klezmer-Musik (Bärenreiter/dtv, 1999) and Jüdische Musiktraditionen (Jewish Musical Traditions; Gustav Bosse-Verlag, 2001), the author of Mazltov! Jewish-American Wedding Music for Clarinet from the Repertoire of Dave Tarras (Schott Musik International, 1998), and the co-curator of the Jewish Music Series of CDs for Schott’s Wergo label (11 productions between 1993-2008) and the Trikont Klezmer Trilogy (1991-95). He wrote the notes to the acclaimed CD anthology, Chekhov’s Band: Eastern European Klezmer Music from the EMI Archives 1908-1913 (Renair Records, 2015). Rubin’s work on Jewish music in contemporary Germany has appeared in Ethnomusicology Forum (2015) and the prize-winning collection Dislocated Memories: Jews, Music, and Postwar German Culture (Oxford University Press, 2014). He recently published a chapter in the Cambridge Companion to Jewish Music and has an article forthcoming in the Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World. Rubin has received grants from the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research (Vladimir and Pearl Heifetz Memorial Fellowship and Joseph Kremen Memorial Fellowship), Cornell Council for the Arts, and the Pro Musica Viva Foundation (Maria Strecker-Daelen-Stiftung), among others. Prior to UVA, he taught at Cornell University, Syracuse University, Ithaca College and Humboldt Universität Berlin.
Joel Rubin is available for concerts, residencies, workshops, master classes, lectures, seminars and other projects by arrangement.