There are many master violinists who were born in the Former Soviet Union, but Alex Koffman has dedicated his career to more than just playing music. He is a modern-day “klezmer,” a musician who keeps the flame of Russian-Jewish folk music burning brightly.
As Musical Director and a composer-arranger of the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, and director of the Junior Klezmer Orchestra and several adult community bands, Koffman considers himself a “cultural keeper of a lost civilization.”
Alex Koffman received his Master’s Degree in classical music from the Conservatory of Minsk in Belarus. Because the soulful, Chassidic-inspired Jewish melodies called “klezmer” were banned in the Soviet Union , young Koffman was exposed to them in private by grandparents, during summer visits to the countryside. As he and his grandfather sang and danced together to his illegal stash of Yiddish recordings, Koffman’s grandfather told him, “This music belongs to you and to all of us. No one can ever take it away from you. Listen and learn to love it-your people’s laughter and tears are in it.”
After serving in the Russian Army and then immigrating to the United States in 1990, Koffman was advised to give up professional music and to make a living as a computer programmer. Despite this, Koffman found he could not abandon music. With the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, he toured Europe multiple times, played in Carnegie Hall, played the world’s first klezmer opera with Lyric Opera of Chicago, and was featured with Chicago Sinfonietta in a klezmer-classical Rhapsody composed for him by Chicago’s composer Ilya Levinson.
Alex’s non-klezmer credits include classical and show orchestras in Chicago including the Chicago Music Consortium and the Bill Porter Orchestra, the Steppenwolf Theater, movie and commercial soundtracks.
Recently, Alex was featured in a photo art series called “The Uplifted” (www.theuplifted.net), levitating his violin in Peter Seman’s violin shop.
Matt Brown Fiddles His Favorites
Saturday, August 19
$30 General admission/$20 students and seniors
For tickets click here or call 847-674-0690
Parking is free and plentiful BYOB is always recommended
Matt will play two 45 minute sets
Listen to fiddler Matt Brown play a panoply of his favorite fiddle tunes in the intimate setting of Seman Violins’ recital hall. Matt Brown teaches fiddle, banjo, and guitar at the Old Town School of Folk Music. His fiddling is featured along with guitarist Greg Reish on the 2015 release “Speed of the Plow,” which was engineered and co-produced by GRAMMY winner Dave Sinko (Punch Brothers, Béla Fleck, Hot Rize). Matt has also toured as a soloist, with percussive dance ensembles Rhythm in Shoes and Footworks, and has made guest appearances with Tim O’Brien, The John Hartford Stringband, Uncle Earl, Special Consensus, and Della Mae. He has performed twice with Mike Snider on the Grand Ole Opry. Matt plays fiddle with Chicago band Big Sadie. Big Sadie was recently voted Best Country Band in this year’s Chicago Reader Best of Chicago reader’s poll. Their debut album, “Keep Me Waiting,” came out in May on Spindle Tree Records.
For more about Matt Brown:
Learn how to use your bow as a jazz rhythm player with slurs and ghost notes.
Find the right ‘Licks’ to make you sound more gypsy jazz.
Along the way, get to jam on 2 gypsy jazz standards with Tim backing you up.
All strings welcome: violins, violas, cellos and basses!