Fall 2013 Concert

Alexander Fiterstein and Friends
The Voice of the Clarinet in Jewish Classical Music

  • Terrace Theater
  • The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
  • Washington, D.C.
  • December 1st, 2013


Alexander Fiterstein, clarinet and Friends Erin Keefe, violin Arnaud Sussmann, violin Cindy Wu, viola Nicholas Canellakis, cello Timothy Lovelace, piano

Concert Summary

“His instrument [is] his personal voice, dazzling in its spectrum of colors, agility, and range.”

—The Washington Post

Pro Musica Hebraica’s 2013 Hanukkah Concert highlights the rich legacy of the clarinet in Jewish art music with a performance by the rising young star Alexander Fiterstein together with some of his musician friends. Recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant Award, Fiterstein has dedicated himself to exploring the vast branches of Jewish art music, past and present. This concert features newly recovered compositions by many of the great Russian Jewish composers of the early 20th century, including Joel Engel and Jacob Weinberg, along with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Samuel Gardiner’s Hebrew Fantasy for strings and clarinet, and new works by acclaimed contemporary composers Ronn Yedidia (b. 1960) and Lev Zhurbin (b. 1978). Fiterstein’s program takes its inspiration from an ensemble founded by the legendary Russian Jewish clarinetist Simeon Bellison (1881-1953). The original Zimro Ensemble, founded in Moscow in 1918, was a chamber ensemble dedicated to the promotion of Jewish national music and the founding of a conservatory in Jerusalem. The bulk of the program features newly recovered manuscripts from Bellison’s own archive at the Jerusalem Conservatory, including his arrangements of works by Engel, Weinberg, Gardner, and others, based on Yiddish folk songs and virtuoso folk masterpieces drawn directly from the klezmer repertoire of the pre-World War I East European Jewish shtetl. Rounding out the program, the same ethos of tradition and innovation marks the music of Yedidia and Zhurbin, two composer prodigies whose works have drawn praise and popularity for their ability to blend folk inflections with engaging contemporary sensibilities. Performance Timing: Part One – 50 min.; Intermission – 15 min.; Part Two – 40 min.

Concert Program

WEINBERG: Bobe-mayses (Grandmother’s Tales) (1933) (arr. Bellison) ZEITLIN: Hasidic Dance (1922) ENGEL: Taksim (arr. Bellison) GARDNER: Hebraic Fantasy BELLISON: In the Field / Song of a Jewish Shepherd YEDIDIA: World Dance from Three Pieces for Clarinet and Piano (2010) KILENYI: Ve-kol ma’aminim (And All Who Believe) WEINBERG: Pedotsur, Op. 23 (1926) ZHURBIN: Zogekhts ZHURBIN: Freylakhs TARRAS: Zeydns tants (Grandfather’s Dance) (arr. Zhurbin) TARRAS: Sirba in B-flat (arr. Zhurbin)


Alexander Fiterstein, clarinet and Friends
Erin Keefe, violin
Charles Yang, violin
Cindy Wu, viola
Nicholas Canellakis, cello
Timothy Lovelace, piano