Joel Rubin (*1955) ranks as one of the leading exponents of traditional Jewish instrumental ('klezmer') music, heir to the legendary Jewish clarinet masters of the past. Rubin studied classical performance with Richard Stoltzman, Kalmen Opperman, Gary Gray and Michele Zukofsky, attended California Institute of the Arts and received a BFA from State University of New York at Purchase.
After being involved in experimental music at Cal Arts in the mid-70s, and later performing with ensembles like the New York Philomusica and the Ragdlae Ensemble, at Chestnut Hill Concerts and the Aspen Music Festival, he has specialized in traditional Eastern European Jewish repertoire since 1980. Next to his performances and fieldwork with traditional musicians like Moshe 'Musa' Berlin (Israel), Leopold Kozlowski ('Schindler's List'; 'The Last Klezmer'; Poland), Ben Bazyler (Poland/USA), Bronya Sakina (Ukraine/USA) and the Epstein Brothers (USA), Rubin was the founder of and has recorded with "Rubin & Horowitz", "Brave Old World" and the "Joel Rubin Klezmer Band", and has also recorded with thre Epstein Brothers and jazz musician Branford Marsalis.
While his newest CD, "Bessarabian Symphony" (Wergo Weltmusik, November 1993), displays the virtuoso qualities of traditional Eastern European klezmer genre, "Zeydes un Eyniklekh (Grandfathers and Grandsons): Joel Rubin plays the music of Dave Tarras" with the Epstein Brothers, gathers three generations of klezmer stars. Both albums rank among the most outstanding work of post-war Jewish music. Rubin has also produced a documentary recording of the music of the Epstein Brothers, "The Kings of Freylekh Land". One of the earliest and leading protagonists of the American revival of the Yiddish music he has also apperead as guest artist with the 'Klezmatics', the 'Klezmer Conservatory Band', 'Sulam Klezmer Ensemble' and the 'Maxwell Street Klezmer Band', accompanied Yiddish theater stars Seymour Rexsite and Miriam Kressyn, and has performed together with Russian-Jewish pianist and composer, Vladimir Terletsky (Moscow) since 1991.
Rubin has performed at the Kammermusiksaal of the Berlin Philarmonic and the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, among others, and was a star guest in the Vilnius Philarmonic as well at the Festival of Hassidic and Klezmer music in Ra'anana in Israel, where he played for an audience of 8,000. His most recent concert at the Berlin Philarmonic ended in a standing ovation from the enthusiastic audience.
Joel Rubin taught annually at the 'Yiddish Folk Arts Program' ('KlezKamp') of the YOIO Institute for Jewish Research in New York from 1985 through 1991. He produced, together with Rita Ottens, the award-winning historical klezmer anthology "Yikhes" (Trikont Our Own Voice, Munich, Germany, 1991) from the collection of Prof. Martin Schwartz, which will be followed by two collections of contemporary klezmer music in early 1995 ("Doyres and Shteygers"). Rubin and Ottens organized the concert series for the international exhibition Juedische Lebenswelten/Pattern of Jewish Life in Berlin 1992, which they edited for a double CD with highlights from the concerts (Wergo Weltmusik, Mainz, Germany, 1993). They also direct the research and documentation project 'Klezmer Music: a Microcosm of Yiddish Culture' in cooperation with the International Institute for Traditional Music in Berlin. Joel Rubin was musical director of the Third Jewish Culture Festival in Cracow and has participated in many film, television and radio programs about klezmer and Yiddish music, including Michael Goldman's 'A Jumpin Night' 'In the Garden of Eden', 'Klezmer Fiddler on the Hoof' (BBC 1993), 'A Prairie Home Companion' and 'Studs Terkel's Almanac'.
A sought-after consultant and ethnomusicologist, Rubin has written radio series on different aspects of Jewish music and culture, has published scholarly articles in Europe and the U.S.A and gives lectures and workshops internationally. At present he is working on a compendium on Jewish music for school teachers as well as a book on klezmer music.