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Release: Jan. 18, 2002

Photo: Clarinetist David Krakauer.

Clarinetist Krakauer Returns To Hancher With Klezmer Madness!

Clarinetist David Krakauer will return to the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium with his rollicking Klezmer Madness! ensemble at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9.

Klezmer is the traditional celebration music of eastern European Jewry -- the sort of danceable party music played at wedding and other festive events in the Jewish communities of Russia, Poland, Byelorussia, Moldavia, Rumania, the Ukraine, the Baltic states, Hungary and other countries. To put it simply: Klezmer is to music what Yiddish is to language.

The tradition was developed and refined by bands of itinerant Jewish musicians (the klezmorim), who went from town to town playing for Jewish festivals and special events. The most popular traditional klezmer instruments included violin, clarinet, accordion, and drums; but brass, other reeds, and a double bass or tuba were also used.

The great waves of Jewish immigrants who arrived in the United States between 1880 and 1920 brought their music with them, and here it became an integral part of American music and survived the Holocaust that eradicated most of East European Jewish culture.

The inflections, phrasing, ornate ornamentation and playful spirit of klezmer can be heard in American music from jazz to Gershwin to Tin Pan Alley to cartoon soundtracks.

In recent years klezmer itself -- which sounds to most people both exotic and strangely familiar -- has experienced a resurgence, and one of the prime players in the klezmer revival is "crossover" clarinetist David Krakauer.

Krakauer recently visited the UI to perform "The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind" with the Kronos Quartet, and Klezmer Madness! reveals another aspect of his eclectic artistry. While firmly rooted in traditional klezmer folk tunes -- which unite a variety of influences that reflect the Jewish diaspora -- Krakauer's compositions for the group also pay homage to jazz, rock, experimental classical and funk.

"This is the music that has been played from a time way before the earliest memories of my great great great grandparents in Eastern Europe; and I'm honored to continue this great tradition," Krakauer says. "So all I can say now is… ENJOY!"

Recent 'Klezmer Madness!" performances have included a sold-out concert at New York's Symphony Space; a headlining show at the Dallas JCC marathon; numerous European tours, a series at Merkin Concert Hall in New York, and appearances at jazz festivals ranging from District Curators' JazzArts Festival in Washington, DC, to Austria's Saalfeiden Festival.

The concert in Hancher is early in a busy Klezmer Madness! spring schedule that includes two European tours and a return to Symphony Space in New York City.

Krakauer's discography contains some of the most important klezmer recordings of the past decade. His latest release, "A New Hot One" on the prestigious French jazz label Label Bleu, represents a major step forward in enlarging the French public's knowledge and appreciation of klezmer music. It has garnered France's prestigious Diapason d'Or prize and has been hailed a masterwork by the International Herald Tribune, Le Monde and Jazz magazine.

"Klezmer, NY" (1988) on John Zorn's Tzadik label features Krakauer's visionary suite "A Klezmer Tribute to Sidney Bechet," written in honor of the 100th birthday of the legendary jazz clarinetist. Also on Tzadik is "Klezmer Madness" -- one of the label's best-selling discs.

Other Krakauer klezmer CDs include the groundbreaking "Rhythm and Jews" (Piranha/Flying Fish) and "Jews with Horns" (Piranha/Green Linnet) with the Klezmatics; "In the Fiddler's House" with violinist Itzhak Perlman and the Klezmatics; and chamber music recordings on the Musical Heritage and New York Philomusica labels.

Krakauer has had recent major profiles in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The International Herald Tribune, and has appeared with Itzhak Perlman on the nationally televised "Late Night with David Letterman."

In October 2000 the European arts television station "Arte" aired a 54-minute feature film about his life and work. A graduate of Juilliard, he is a member of the clarinet and chamber music faculties of the Manhattan School of Music, the Mannes College of Music and Queens College. For the last 20 years, he has developed a unique and literally breathtaking clarinet language using circular breathing, overtones and alternate fingerings.

Group 5 Hospitality/Radisson Highlander Plaza is the corporate sponsor of the Klezmer Madness! concert, through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Tickets are $32, $29 and $26. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, and tickets for audience members 17 and younger are half price.

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website:< http://www.uiowa.edu/hancher >.

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail: <hancherboxoffice@uiowa.edu>.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit <www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa>. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <deborah-thumma@uiowa.edu>. Visit Krakauer's website at < http://www.davidkrakauer.com/ > for additional information.