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Joel Rubin is Associate Professor of Music in the Performance Program at the University of Virginia. He attended the California Institute of the Arts and received a BFA in clarinet performance from the State University of New York 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).
Rubin is an internationally acclaimed performer of Jewish instrumental klezmer music and hasidic music. In addition to performances with traditional musicians such as the Epstein Brothers (USA) and Moshe Berlin (Israel), he has been the founder and clarinetist of some of the most internationally respected klezmer ensembles, including the Joel Rubin Jewish Music Ensemble and Brave Old World. Rubin also performs with the R2G Klezmer Trio, and collaborates regularly with renowned artists such as the trio Veretski Pass, composer and jazz pianist Uri Caine, and accordionist and pianist Alan Bern. His seventh solo album, "Azoy Tsu Tsveyt" with Caine, was chosen by exclaim. ca as one of 10 favorites in the category Improv & Avant-Garde for 2011, and “Midnight Prayer” was named one of the best recordings of 2007 by the Jewish Week. His newest recording, “Poyln: A Gilgul (Poland: A Metamorphosis, Golden Horn, 2015),” a collaboration with the Berkeley-based trio Veretski Pass, received a 5-star review from the influential world music magazine, Songlines. 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. 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, as well as at Yiddish Summer Weimar, KlezKanada, KlezKamp (New York), KlezFest London (SOAS, University of London), and the International Master Classes at the World Klezmer Center in Safed, Israel, among others.
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 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. His most current research is on Yiddish music in contemporary Germany. 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; and art and urban popular traditions of the Balkans, Turkey and the Middle East. 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" (Schott Musik International, 1998), and the co-curator of the Jewish Music Series of CDs for Schott's Wergo as well of as the Trikont Klezmer Trilogy. He wrote the liner notes to the CD anthology, Chekhov’s Band: Eastern European Klezmer Music from the EMI Archives 1908-1913 (Renair Records, 2015), which was a finalist in the Association for Recorded Sound Collections’ Awards for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research in 2015. Rubin’s article, “‘With an open mind and with respect’: Klezmer as a Site of the Jewish Fringe in Germany in the Early 21st Century” appeared in the collection, Dislocated Memories: Jews, Music, and Postwar German Culture (Oxford University Press, 2014), which received the Ruth A. Solie Award from the American Musicological Society in 2015. Other recent articles and chapters appeared in Ethnomusicology Forum, Jüdischer Almanach (Leo Baeck Institute), and and the Cambridge Companion to Jewish Music. He has received grants from the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research (Vladimir and Pearl Heifetz Memorial Fellowship, Joseph Kremen Memorial Fellowship), Cornell Council for the Arts, and the Pro Musica Viva Foundation. Prior to UVa, he taught at Cornell University, Syracuse University, Ithaca College and Humboldt Universität Berlin.