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Polina and Merlin Shepherd



MERLIN SHEPHERD (Brighton, UK) is a clarinetist who specialises in the Jewish instrumental folk music of Eastern Europe commonly known as "Klezmer".

Merlin is one of the few players of traditional Klezmer in Britain today. Has been Musical Director for The Royal National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, London.

He was also Klezmer Advisor for the Royal Shakespeare Company for their 1992 production of An-ski's "The Dybbuk". He works as Music Co-ordinator for KlezKamp USA, KlezFest London and taught at KlezFest St Petersburg, KlezFest Ukraine and KlezKanada.

He is one of the world's leading players of traditional East European Klezmer Clarinet style, and apart from his own ensembles he has worked and toured throughout Britain and Europe with Budowitz, Klezmer Brass Allstars and the Burning Bush. Performed the world premiere of "Kol Simcha" by Adam Gorb for London Musici. Composed scores for numerous dance and theatre companies. International performances, television and radio appearances with New Presumption, Merlin Shepherd Klezmer Trio, RNT.


Marianne Olyver Gypsy Orchestra: "Dark Eyes";
Burning Bush, "Best of Yiddish, Klezmer and Sephardic Music" and "Music From The Old Jewish World",
Duck and Weave: "Duck and Weave",
World Network: "The Soul Of Klezmer",
"Wedding Without a Bride",
Frank London's Klezmer Brass Allstars: "Brotherhood of Brass",
and also most recently for Aaron Alexander (due for release in Spring)

Merlin's with orachestra performance at Klezfest in Ukraine, 2005 (mp3, 1,38 Mb)

Reviews of Merlin's work:

"They were joined by clarinetist Merlin Shepherd - one of the leading British musicians in an American dominated scene ы who provided the spiritual and emotional heart with an extended Romanian-style improvisation. His playing, the versatility on display throughout the night" a reminder of the sheer power of great musicianship".

Simon Broughton, Evening Standard, London July 2002

"...one of the best examples of simple yet soulful Klezmer musicianship around...First class playing by the best exponents of traditional Klezmer music."

Rough Guide to World Music

"A filigree sound made seemingly lacy by the hammered strings at its centre effectively pricks attention from the ear as sharply as an intake of breath; as stimulating too. Rugged and sometimes aggressive fiddle playing is so beautifully countered by note cascades from clarinet and fiddle. In character, the music is Romanian/Moldavian with a great throbbing bass line of Hungarian proportions."

Folk Roots

"It wasn't just your typical laughing and crying from the clarinet of Merlin Shepherd like you find in every other band, but rather a kaleidoscope of feelings let loose."


"Breathtaking virtuosity. The clarinet of Merlin Shepherd and the button accordion and tsimbl of Joshua Horowitz made music with each other that showed sheer unbelievable sensitivity."

Schwabische Zeitung

"Merlin Shepherd is one of the most gifted and expressive clarinetists of the contemporary klezmer scene, showing that in a genre in which everything has supposedly already been said, still more can be said."

Berliner Morgenpost

"Merlin Shepherd's clarinet begs and laments, develops longings and in the very next moment switches over to overflowing life energy, vitality which is thoroughly contagious."

Pforzheimer Kurier

by Merlin Shepherd




POLINA ACHKINAZI-SHEPHERD (Kazan, Russia/Brighton, UK) is a composer, singer, skilled accompanist and is the leading choir conductor of Yiddish song in Russia.

Arranger and singer and pianist with Simcha (Russia's first Klezmer band since Perestroika). Specialising inthe setting of Yiddish poetry to new compositions, she has worked extensively throughout Russia and Former Soviet Union and the USA with her a cappella vocal quartet "Ashkenazim" (CDs "Jam-da", "Di Yiddishe Gas" and "FunYener Zayt Lid").

Choir arrangements of Jewish folk songs and her own compositions for choir and ensembles are sung by Jewish and non-Jewish collectives, both in Former Soviet Union and the U.S.

Chorale teacher at Kharkov Klezmer Teg, Klezfests in Ukraine, Jewish Festival in Kazan. Lectures on Jewish music at the Centre of History and Culture of Jewish People, Kazan State University.

Led workshops in "Niggun (tune) as therapy" at the all-Russia psychology seminar in Tatarstan. Artistic director of the International Festivals of Jewish Culture held in Kazan.

Upcoming performances

as part of the UK Jewish Film Festival

17th October, London, the Screen on the Hill
14th November, Birmingham, Mac
18th November, Manchester, The Cornerhouse
28th November, Nottingham, Broadway Cinema

also as part of the Brighton Festival of Jewish Music

5th December, Brighton, Sallis Benny Theatre

for more information http://www.ukjewishfilmfestival.org.uk/

The world premiere of this programme took place in Kiev (20th, August, 2004)

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