New Yiddish Music with the Kundish & Farrell Duo and the UVA Klezmer Ensemble under the direction of Joel Rubin

May 21, 2021 - 12:00pm
Virtual on UVA Music YouTube

In spring semester 2021, the University of Virginia Department of Music, together with the co-sponsorship of the Vice Provost for the Arts, the Jewish Studies Program, the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, the Center for German Studies, the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, and the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures, hosted a virtual residency with the acclaimed Berlin-based duo of singer Sveta Kundish (Ukraine/Israel) and accordionist-composer Patrick Farrell (USA). Over the course of the semester, the duo rehearsed regularly with the UVA Klezmer Ensemble, leading to an end of semester recording project of New Yiddish Music, the results of which you can hear here. All but one of the seven pieces (five songs and two instrumentals) were composed by Patrick Farrell. The songs are set to texts by modernist female Yiddish poets. The recording project (one video and six audios) was conducted entirely remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and serves in place of our normal end-of-semester concert.

Under the direction of Joel Rubin, the UVA Klezmer Ensemble has focused for the past fifteen years on the music of the klezmorim, the professional Jewish instrumentalists of Eastern Europe, as well as related Jewish and other East European traditions from the 18th century to the present. The ensemble has been a vital part of the musical community of Central and Northern Virginia, performing each semester in Old Cabell Hall as well as at conferences and festivals throughout the region. In its online format, this semester’s ensemble is based not only in Charlottesville, but also in Ohio, Belgium, and Switzerland, and is made up of undergraduates, graduate and undergraduate alumnae, and other members of the extended Central Virginia community. The group is committed to ethnic, racial, cultural and religious diversity. Over the years members have had backgrounds from the US, Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Lebanon, Armenia, Iran, Bangladesh, and India, and with religious backgrounds ranging from Jewish to Christian, Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist. With the impending retirement of Joel Rubin, these may be the last performances by this ensemble.

Sveta Kundish & Patrick Farrell ( present original Yiddish songs written by Patrick Farrell for voice and accordion. Straddling the lines of art song, folk music, new music, and free improvisation, their deeply personal repertoire draws on myriad influences to make truly new music based on 20th- and 21st-century Yiddish poetry. Together they deliver a subtle, powerful, and passionate oeuvre.

Joel Rubin ( is Associate Professor and Director of Music Performance at the University of Virginia. He has long been considered to be one of the leading performers of klezmer music in the world today. Rubin studied clarinet with Richard Stoltzman and Kalmen Opperman, and holds a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from City, University of London. Rubin has concertized throughout Europe, North America and Asia. He has recorded numerous CDs and collaborated with artists such as Uri Caine and Alan Bern. His most recent recording is The Magid Chronicles (Golden Horn Records, 2019,, a collaboration with the acclaimed trio, Veretski Pass.

Recorded April-May, 2021
Audio and video edited, mixed, and mastered by Patrick Farrell, May 2021
Released May 21, 2021


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UVA Department of Music
112 Old Cabell Hall
P.O. Box 400176 Charlottesville, VA 22904-4176