Klezmer music ensembles unite for performances at Wayne State University


 Detroit – Two ensembles leading the international revival of Klezmer music will unite for an unprecedented series of performances at Wayne State University April 25 – 27, 2015. 

On April 25, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. in WSU’s Community Arts Auditorium Daniel Kahn and The Painted Bird and the R2G Klezmer Trio will present their lively blend of Eastern European party music and Jewish spirituality as part of ‘Klez-Motown,’ a unique collaboration sponsored by The Workmen’s Circle Michigan in partnership with the Wayne State University Department of Music and the Cohn-Haddow Center for Judaic Studies. This performance also is the signature event and precursor to the 2015 Jewish Community Center’s Stephen Gottlieb Music Festival beginning April 27th at the Berman Center for the Performing Arts. At WSU, each group will perform separately, followed by a joint set that demonstrates their commitment to traditional Ashkenazi Klezmer roots along with electro-acoustic innovations that are reinventing the genre. The Wayne State University Community Arts Auditorium is located at 450 Reuther Mall. Tickets for the April 25th performance are $10 at the door, and $5 with a student ID.

On April 27, 2015 at 11:45 a.m. the ensembles will present a joint recital in WSU Music Department’s Schaver Music Recital Hall, 450 W. Hancock Street, Detroit. This performance is free and open to the public. Immediately following the recital at 1:00 p.m., performers Joel Rubin, Steve Greenman, Pete Rushefsky and Michael Tuttle will present master classes in klezmer technique for strings, winds, Yiddish song, and electro-acoustic bass for WSU students, faculty, staff, and community members in the Music Department’s Old Main classrooms. All interested area musicians are welcome to attend the free joint recital and participate in the master classes. 

Critically acclaimed Painted Bird founder Daniel Kahn is a metro Detroit native and University of Michigan graduate who now calls Berlin, Germany home. The Painted Bird has brought "Yiddish Punk Cabaret" to rock clubs, theatres, festivals and shtetls, from Berlin to Boston, Leningrad to Louisiana. The band has been called "The Yiddish Pogues," and Kahn was once described as "someone between Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits - but yiddish." On tour premiering his new album of old and original songs in Yiddish, English, German, and Russian, "Lost Causes," Daniel Kahn challenges the borders between radical & traditional, lyrical & political, east & west, folk & punk, mama loshn & loshn hora. The Painted Bird has received critical international acclaim the group’s four studio albums that blend American folk with punk-rock protest themes, all fused in the tradition of Yiddish Klezmer music. Kahn’s vocals, thought-provoking lyrics peppered with sarcasm and wicked self-irony, as well as his masterful accordion, guitar, piano, organ and ukulele arrangements of the group's songs, squarely place him among the true, exceptional klezmorim of his generation.

The R2G Klezmer Trio features star Klezmer clarinetist and scholar Joel Rubin; Pete Rushefsky, tsimbl (cimbalom); and Steve Greenman, violin. Established in 2013, the ensemble is widely known and respected for its original compositions and improvisations, as well as its intriguing arrangements of classic East European Jewish instrumentals. Rubin studied with Richard 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, and has taught at Cornell, Syracuse University, Ithaca College, and Humboldt University in Berlin. When not performing, Pete Rushefsky serves as Executive Director of New York City's Center for Traditional Music and Dance. He has published a book entitled, Essentials of Klezmer 5-String Banjo, Volume I.  R2G Klezmer Trio’s Cleveland-based violinist, Steve Greenman, is internationally recognized as one of the finest traditional East European Jewish Klezmer violinists. Greenman received his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in Violin Performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music studying with Linda Sharon Cerone, Dr. Eugene Gratovich, Alan Bodman and the late Bernhard Goldschmidt.  His classical studies have continued with Montreal’s renowned pedagogue Yaela Hertz. Greenman 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. 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.

To learn more about the ensembles and musicians, please visit the links below:





 “Workmen’s Circle Michigan has been waiting for the right opportunity to have quality bastions of Yiddish culture and music come together—and we have it with this program,” said Workmen’s Circle spokesperson Arlene Frank.  “It is very exciting to have these musicians together on one stage.”

“We couldn’t be more pleased that these newer musicians will get exposure to Klezmer music and an opportunity to learn from such experts,” Frank added.  “These musicians are all special because they do NEW music that is Klezmer.  Each band in its own way, but they defy the notion that Klezmer music is a dead or dying art.”

Workmen’s Circle Michigan is an organization focused on fostering Jewish community, promoting an enlightened Jewish culture, and fostering social justice. Founded more than a century ago, the organization continues its historically important mission through arts and education programming for Yiddish, Jewish and progressive culture, and family-friendly opportunities for real social action. Find out more at www.circleMichigan.org.