Art Works Blog

Art Works Podcast: Andy Statman

This week, the National Endowment for the Arts announced the recipients of the 2012 National Heritage Fellowship, which "recognizes folk and traditional artists for their artistic excellence and efforts to conserve America’s culture for future generations." Now in its 30th year, it's the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. Among this year's honorees is Klezmer clarinetist, mandolin-player, and composer Andy Statman.

Born in Brooklyn, Statman was galvanized as a teenager by bluegrass music, and learned to play the mandolin from David Grisman, who became a lifetime friend and collaborator. Never content to stay musically still, Statman was also drawn to jazz and the saxophone while he continued to push the boundaries of the mandolin by performing with experimental bluegrass bands. Continuing his musical explorations, Statman added the clarinet to his repertoire and began studying Greek, Albanian, and Azerbaijani music.

As Statman was beginning to examine his own Jewish musical roots, he met legendary Klezmer clarinetist and NEA National Heritage Fellow Dave Tarras. By becoming Tarras's protege, Statman became instrumental in the revival of Klezmer music.

In this excerpt from the first of a two-part podcast, we hear Statman defining and playing Klezmer music. [2:29]

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