I am a London based professional fiddle player who has specialised in klezmer for many years. I have performed with many London klezmer, Simcha and Jewish function bands, including Danny Shine's Neshama, the Matzoh Boys, Gilev Showband, Ben Morris, Stewart Curtis, Yuval Havkin's Kedma Band, Hershy Ginsberg band, Eli Tamir, Stewart Curtis, Dave Bitelli, Yair Schleider, and my own bands, Klezmania and Tziganarama
Jewish Wedding violinist
Most weekends I am booked to play fiddle for for Jewish weddings. This often involves playing for the ceremony (chuppah) in the synagogue or hotel. Usually I will do this with a pianist and often also a clarinet. We will play before the ceremony as people are gathering; during the wedding, usually accompanying the khasn, and then some lively dance tunes starting with Simentov Mazeltov, after the glass is broken.
If I am asked to play for the drinks reception, I can do this solo, but it is better with accordion. This allows us to be acoustic (and therefore mobile), but also to make a bit more noise. I have a large repertoire of klezmer fiddle tunes, as well as light classical, gypsy, latin, French, Hungarian and so on.
The party continues with dinner and dancing. Sometimes I will play around the tables, often again with an acordion player. For background music during dinner people usually want light jazz and showtunes.
Finally the dancing. For this it is best to have a larger band; I often play with piano, double bass, drums and clarinet.Typically we will play a long string of "Simcha" tunes- lively Hebrew/Israeli/pop tunes such as Khosn Kale Mazeltov, Od Yishama, Tzena Tzena, Tzadik Katamar, Ufaratsa, and so on. The dancers will whirl around in a frenzy for up to 20 minutes, until exhausted, or until the caterers threaten to turn off the power unless we stop and let them get on with serving.
I am an experienced session musician, and have played on over 80 albums, plus countless jingles, soundtracks and TV production sessions. I am happy to travel to any studio, but can also do "remote sessions" from my home studio. I can play from written music, or am happy to improvise in klezmer style.
Here are a few samples from recent klezmer recording sessions.
I have made a detailed study of klezmer violin technique and history (see details of my book below). I give lessons and workshops which can cover klezmer fiddle ornamentation, klezmer repertoire, history, arrangement, and how to play in a klezmer band.
Among many others, I have given workshops for the European String Teachers' Association, for the London Fiddle Convention, the Fiddle Festival of Britain, Hands On weekends, and for the Klemorimalta foundation. It was a particular pleasure to teach klezmer to the musicians of Malta in 2015, along with accordionist Basil Bunelik and clarinetist Jakob Lakner.
BBC Klezmer Documentary
Here is a clip from a BBC documentary "Klezmer" which appeared in 2012, narrated by Michael Grade. In it I explain the mystery and magic of some of the special scales or modes used in klezmer.
For more information on klezmer fiddle see my web page here:
In 2015 my book "Exploring Klezmer Fiddle" was published by Schott. Described by Sophie Solomon for "The Strad" as "A fantastically rich introduction and reference book for klezmer violin".
Within the framework of a detailed historical narrative, the book explains in practical terms the ornamentation, scales, repertoire, and playing context of the klezmer fiddle player.
The book includes 96 audio tracks, many recorded with a studio band including Chris Haigh (fiddle), Stewart Curtis (clarinet), Rob Terry (piano), Paul Tkachenko (bass and tuba), Alan Dunn (accordion and piano), Ronen Kozokaro (drums) and Jon Banks (cymbalom).
Here I am with my band Tziganarama, playing "Der Shtiller Bulgar", along with Stewart Curtis (clarinet), Alan Dunn (accordion) and Victor Unukovsky (guitar). We are at the open air stage outside the National Theatre on the South Bank.