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C Clarinet: Joel Rubin

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) and the pioneering revival group Brave Old World.

He has made guest appearances with the Klezmatics, the Klezmer Conservatory Band, the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, and Daniel Kahn and the Painted Bird, among others. Rubin’s 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. Rubin’s albums Nign of Reb Mendel, Midnight Prayer, 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.

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The Magid Chronicles

Veretski Pass

with Joel Rubin