Big Galut(e) – August 18, 2013

Robin Seletsky, clarinet; Sasha Margolis, violin; Michael Leopold, lute; Richard Sosinsky, double bass and Mark Rubinstein, accordion.

Join us on Sunday, August 18 at 3PM at the Cyr Center in Stamford for the fifth concert of our 27th Season, featuring a rousing klezmer performance by Big Galut(e). Klezmer is a Jewish tradition of mainly dance and celebration music that originated in Eastern Europe. As immigrants from that region settled in the United States klezmer further evolved under the influence of American jazz.

Some may remember a klezmer concert during the 1999 Friends of Music season, featuring clarinetist Robin Seletsky and her previous group, the Catskill Klezmorim. After years of being hounded for an encore, Ms. Seletsky has graciously agreed to treat us all to a performance with her new group of associates.

Big Galut(e) was formed in Cooperstown in 2010 at the Glimmerglass Festival, where the artists play in the orchestra. Their unusual combination of instruments and performances that include folk, art and popular music is are further enhanced by their classical virtuosity.

Clarinetist Robin Seletsky and violinist Sasha Margolis each grew up in musical households and learned traditional klezmer melodies from their fathers, and the group is a natural progression of that shared history.

The Yiddish or Hebrew word galute or galoot has entered the vernacular as a term — usually used affectionately — for a big, clumsy, not-too-smart person. According to the group’s Web site, “In Hebrew, Galut [also] means diaspora, the wide world of places where Jewish people settled, over thousands of years, on every continent: in short, a big place.”

True to this wider definition, Big Galut(e) travels the globe to share their music and their humor. Their performances generally include jokes told both in Yiddish and in English and “original comic songs.”

These five talented musicians have widely varied musical backgrounds that include klezmer, classical, jazz and popular music, with international- and Grammy-nominated performances. Their combined efforts promise a musically exciting and fun afternoon as we celebrate life on a glorious Catskill late summer day, in a place that for decades epitomized the joy of summer and the relief from the heat and drudgery of city life in the green hills of Delaware County.

Read more about the artists of Big Galut(e) below, or for more information about the group and to hear examples of their work, please visit their Web site at

All selections will be announced from the stage. The program will consist of lively klezmer instrumentals, Middle Eastern/Levantine dances, short chamber works by the Jewish Baroque composer Salamone Rossi and traditional Yiddish songs.

August 18, 2013 Performers

Clarinetist Robin Seletsky is a classically-trained performer equally at home with the klezmer style. She grew up listening to her father, Harold Seletsky, “The Prez of Klez,” but it wasn’t until the midst of the klezmer revival that she began her own exploration into this style of music.

A graduate of the New England Conservatory and the Juilliard School, Ms. Seletsky lives in upstate New York and is currently principal clarinetist with the Glimmerglass Festival and the Binghamton Philharmonic. She teaches at Hartwick College and at SUNY Oneonta, and is Music Director at Temple Beth El in Oneonta, NY.

In 2008 she was cited by The New York Times for her work with Glimmerglass Opera: “Robin Seletsky, the principal clarinetist, blew a jazzy solo onstage during Too Darn Hot… and offered stylish solos from the pit.”

Read more about Ms. Seletsky at her Web site

Sasha Margolis is a versatile violinist well-versed in classical, klezmer, new, early and jazz music. Praised by The Washington Post for his “incisive, vibrato-rich tone,” he has performed chamber music in Italy, Japan, and throughout the U.S., including a concert for President Zeman of the Czech Republic at the Czech Embassy in Washington, D.C.

On a lighter note, Mr. Margolis appeared as a strolling violinist on ABC’s Lost, played for the wedding of NBA star Grant Hill, and sang for the rock band Kandru. His short story “The Fallen Cone” was shortlisted by the Sean O’Faolain International Short Story Competition. He has also written for Opera America Magazine.

Currently, Sasha Margolis spends his summers at the Glimmerglass Festival, and was a longtime member of the Honolulu Symphony. He has played klezmer music since childhood.

Michael Leopold, lute, holds degrees in historical plucked instruments from Sacramento State University (1998) and in lute and theorbo from L’Instituto di Musica Antica of the Accademia Internazionale della Musica (2004) in Milan, Italy.

Originally from northern California, he continues to reside in Milan and performs both as a soloist and as an accompanist throughout Europe, Australia, Japan, Chile, Mexico and the United States.

Mr. Leopold can be heard in recordings on the Stradivarius, Glossa, Naïve and Naxos labels.

Richard Sosinsky, double bass, is active as a chamber musician, orchestral bass player, and with cutting-edge jazz and new music groups. He has performed with Newband (custodians of the Harry Partch collection of instruments), Washington Square Chamber Music Society and New York Philomusica.

In Martha Clarke’s “KAOS,” he played bass, mandocello, banjo, jaw harp and percussion.

As an orchestral player he is a member of the American Composers Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic and Riverside Symphony. Mr. Sosinsky also performs with American Ballet Theater, New York City Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, New Jersey Symphony, Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra, Albany Symphony and Opera Orchestra of New York.

Mark Rubinstein’s wide range of interests, his insatiable curiosity, and the unusual scope of his abilities have combined to generate a unique and diverse musical career. Mark’s main instrument is piano, but he has played drums in punk bands, electric bass in salsa groups, and accordion in settings ranging from symphone orchestras to avant-garde theatre pieces.

His interest in ethnic music has led him to seek out performance opportunities in Greek, French, German, Italian, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Brazilian and traditional Jewish music.

Mr. Rubinstein’s work as a recording engineer has led to Grammy nominations and platinum records for his clients, and his productions are noed for their clarity of sound and attention to detail.

Mark Rubinstein is currently the Audio Engineer for the School of Music at the Ohio State University, where he teaches classes in audio recording, oversees recording activities for the school, and collaborates in the development of curriculum for the Music, Media and Enterprise program.