Wednesday, April 22, 2015

World-renowned klezmer musicians play WSU on Sat., April 25

Posted By on Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 10:24 AM

This Saturday presents a rare chance to see world-class klezmer, here in Detroit. The Workmen’s Circle (a local Yiddish/Jewish cultural organization) and Wayne State University are sponsoring a concert on April 25 at the Community Arts Center at Wayne State University.

NOTE: The above photo is a random image of olde timey klezmer dudes, and not meant to represent any of the performers. I just like the picture a lot, and hope that you do as well.


Detroit – Two musical groups leading the international revival of Klezmer music will join together for an unprecedented series of performances at Wayne State University’s Community Arts Center, at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 25.

Daniel Kahn and The Painted Bird and the R2G Klezmer Trio will showcase their blend of toe-tapping 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 School of Music and the Cohn-Haddow Center for Judaic Studies. The event is also a precursor to the 2015 Jewish Community Center’s Stephen Gottlieb Music Festival beginning April 27 at the Berman Center for the Performing Arts.

At Wayne State, each group will perform separately, followed by a joint concert that will highlight their commitment to traditional Ashkenazi Klezmer roots and trailblazing innovations that are reinventing the genre.

Daniel Kahn is a metro Detroit native and University of Michigan graduate who now calls Berlin, Germany home. He founded the Painted Bird and received critical acclaim on multiple continents for steering 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, who grew up in West Bloomfield, attended the Roeper School and the nurtured his creative spirit and taste for social activism at U-M, where he studied theater, playwriting, poetry and politics. A true multi-tasker, he handles the vocals, as well as the accordion, guitar, piano, organ and ukulele arrangements on the group's songs. In addition to the beats he creates, he's perhaps known more for the deep-digging lyrics laced with sarcasm and wicked self irony that truly make him among the true, unique klezmorim of his generation.

The R2G Klezmer Trio features long-time Klezmer star and scholar Joel Rubin on clarinet, Pete Rushefsky on tsimbl and Steve Greenman on violin. Formed in 2013, this group is already widely known for its original compositions and improvisations, in addition to creating their own arrangements of classic East European Jewish instrumentals.

The R2G Klezmer Trio also boasts a local connection through Steve Greenman, who is recognized internationally as one of the finest traditional East European Jewish Klezmer violinists. Though based in Cleveland, Greenman's wife, Tamar Gontovnik, is a metro Detroit native, and they are frequent visitors to the 'D' for familial, social and musical engagements.

He 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.
Both groups have built loyal followings and regularly play large music festivals in Europe and across the globe.

“Workmen’s Circle Michigan has been waiting for the right opportunity to have quality bastions of Yiddish culture and music come together—nd 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.”

Along with the performances, the groups will also work with Wayne State University music students
through the weekend and during a special clinic the following Monday.

“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.”

The Wayne State University Community Arts Center is located at 450 Reuther Mall. Tickets at the door are $10, and $5 with a student ID.

Workmen’s Circle Michigan is an organization focused on fostering Jewish community, the promotion of an enlightened Jewish culture, and 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

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