Under the direction of Director of Music Performance and acclaimed clarinetist and ethnomusicologist Joel Rubin, the UVA Klezmer Ensemble is dedicated to exploring the music of the klezmorim, the Jewish professional instrumentalists of eastern Europe, as well as related eastern European traditions, from the 18th century to the present. The ensemble is made up of undergraduate and graduate students, UVA faculty and alumni, and other members of the greater Central Virginia community. The group is committed to ethnic, racial, cultural and religious diversity. Current and recent members have backgrounds from the US, Russia, Israel, Lebanon, Armenia, Iran, and India, with religious backgrounds ranging from Jewish to Christian, Hindu and Muslim.
Now in its eighth year, the UVA Klezmer Ensemble has rapidly become a vital part of the musical community of Central/Northern Virginia. Besides performing in Old Cabell Hall, recent appearances have included: Tom Tom Founders Festival 2013, the annual conference of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology (University of Richmond), the Jewish Studies conference “Jewish Renaissance and Renaissances” at UVA, the College of William and Mary, the University of Richmond’s Global Sounds Festival, the Gravity Lounge, the 214 Community Arts Center, WeArts Festival (McGuffey Arts Center), New Bridges (Harrisonburg), Congregation Beth Israel Charlottesville, Chabad of UVA, the Piedmont Council for the Arts’ annual Spring for the Arts benefit, the Charlottesville Festival of Cultures, and the Jewish Community Council (Lynchburg).??
The UVA Klezmer Ensemble performs at the end of each semester, often supplemented by performances at community events. Each year (and sometimes twice per year) the ensemble is coached by and plays together with a renowned guest artist. Recent guests have included: Frank London (Klezmatics); klezmer hip-hop artist Socalled (Abraham, Inc., Beyond the Pale, David Krakauer’s Klezmer Madness!); historically-informed performance practice pioneers violinist Cookie Segelstein and accordionist Joshua Horowitz (Veretski Pass, Budowitz); innovative composer-clarinetist Michael Winograd (Yiddish Princess, Socalled, Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All-Stars, Daniel Kahn’s Painted Bird, Shtreiml, Ayelet Rose Gottlieb); violinist-composer Steve Greenman (Khevrisa, Stempenyu’s Dream, Joel Rubin Ensemble); Alicia Svigals, co-founder of the Grammy-winning Klezmatics; trumpeter Susan Watts (Mikveh, Klez Dispensers, Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All-Stars); trombonist Dan Blacksberg (Dan Kahn’s Painted Bird, The Other Europeans, Michael Winograd Ensemble, Electric Simcha); the Kálmán Balogh/Ferenc Kovács Duo from Hungary (Other Europeans, Joel Rubin Ensemble); violinist David Chernyavsky (SF Symphony, Joel Rubin Ensemble); and tsimbl (hammered dulcimer) player Pete Rushefsky (Alicia Svigals, Steven Greenman, Joel Rubin Ensemble, Klezmer Conservatory Band).??
In Spring 2014, the UVA Klezmer Ensemble is pleased to welcome special guest accordionist, pianist and composer, Alan Bern from Berlin, Germany. Bern is the founding director of Yiddish Summer Weimar and the non-profit, other music e.V. He is the leader of The Other Europeans, a musical collaboration between renowned klezmer and Romani musicians, and musical director of Brave Old World, the pioneering klezmer revival group he and Rubin started in 1989. Bern has been an important figure in the klezmer revival and improvised music since the 1980s, collaborating with numerous artists including Itzhak Perlman, Guy Klucevsek, The Klezmatics, and Andy Statman. As an educator, he has taught at Klezkanada, Klezfest London, YiddishFest Moscow and elsewhere. Bern earned a DMA in Music Composition at the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati (2006). His compositions have received awards in the USA, Europe and Israel, and he also writes and directs music for theater and modern dance productions. He received a Ruth Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in world music from the Dance and Folk Festival Rudolstadt in 2009. (http://www.alanbern.net). Bern will be in residency at UVA during the week leading up to the concert. The residency has been co-sponsored by the UVA Jewish Studies program, the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, and the Dunton Gift (UVA jazz program).