The BEST klezmer in the southWEST since 1995! The Rebbe's Orkestra brings the most simcha to your wedding, B'nai Mitzvah, Bris/ baby naming, Hanukkah party, or non-Jewish celebration. Experienced, professional and fun music featuring virtuoso klezmer violin & professional cantor who sings in Yiddish, Hebrew, Ladino, Greek & Russian to exciting rhythms--for your listening and dancing pleasure. Can also teach and lead Jewish dances and traditional dances from New Mexico and provide music and instruction for Yiddish, Israeli, Greek & Eastern European folk dances. The band has also created an East European-style Jewish wedding that can be officiated by the band's cantor or your own rabbi.
Price Range: Contact for rates
Gig Length: 60 - 180 minutes
Languages: Arabic, English, Russian, Spanish, Yiddish, Ladino, Hebrew
What to Expect
The Rebbe's Orkestra is extremely versatile and has performed for a vast variety of different events over the past 22 years: from the Concert Hall and folk festival full stage performances to movies, television and radio shows --and of course, for weddings and b'nai mitzvahs. In a full staged concert situation, the band gives informative and entertaining information about the pieces they are playing including humorous and poetic translations of the songs. The band also has performed musical theater shorts of traditional Hasidic stories, poems and even a Jewish rap. The Rebbe's Orkestra has performed many 1.5-2 hour long professionally staged performances of a mixed variety of Jewish music as well as themed concerts of only Yiddish folk songs and Yiddish theater pieces with Hasidic & klezmer, or just Sephardic with Ladino songs, or Israeli with Middle Eastern music. The band has shared the stage and opened for some of the world's top klezmer and Sephardic musicans. The group can also play beautiful background music for cocktail and dinner parties, and can divide up as a trio, duet, or quartet according to the individual needs of each client.
For a recent wedding event, Beth and Randy played for the wedding ceremony with violin, mandolin and guitar and Beth was asked to use her cantor skills for several of the B'rachote (wedding blessings). Later, Debo joined them on the accordion to play background music for the cocktail hour, and then the full 5-piece group played after dinner at the party for traditional Jewish wedding dances that were led by the group's guest dance leader as well as the usual waltzes, slow dances, polkas and any other dances requested by the wedding couple. At another wedding, the groom was also a talented musician and had requested to sing and play a few numbers that he had rehearsed with the band. the rebbe's Orkestra is also skilled at playing New Mexican traditional dance music such as La Marcha de Los Novios, Valse de Escoba (broom dance), Varsouviana, Rancheros--- y mas. The band's album is called "Klezmer y mas" for a reason.
Incorporating the sounds and rhythms of Jewish music from many parts of the world, THE REBBE’S ORKESTRA brings a unique style to Klezmer–the instrumental dance music rooted in the Jewish wedding ceremonies of Eastern Europe. The band’s repertoire includes instrumental pieces from the Middle-East, and folk songs in several languages including Yiddish (a Germanic rooted language of East European Jews), Ladino (Judeo-Spanish), Hebrew, Russian, Arabic, Hungarian, Romanian, and Romany (the language of the Roma/ Gypsies). The band also plays some Israeli folk dance tunes, traditional fiddle tunes and songs from New Mexico, as well as traditional music from the Mediterranean and the Balkans. Recording and performing professionally throughout the southwest since 1996, The Rebbe’s Orkestra has been exploring the ways in which Jewish musicians have interacted with surrounding musical traditions over the centuries. From Spain to Iraq, Poland to the Mediterranean: The Rebbe's Orkestra plays tunes and songs as widely divergent as the geography and yet with surprisingly similar themes.
The band released its first CD "Klezmer y mas" in 2010 to widespread acclaim. In addition to playing for hundreds (maybe thousands by now!!) of weddings and B’nai Mitzvahs, the group has performed at Globalquerque (2006), The Outpost Performance Space-Outpost Productions (1997 & 2004), KlezmerQuerque 2003-2018, The Crestone Music Festival “Crestfest” 2011 (Crestone, Colorado), The ABQ Folkfestival (1998-2016), and at many other festivals and theaters throughout the southwest including the states of Texas & Arizona.
Perfect for schools, universities, senior centers and community centers, The Rebbe's Orkestra also gives fun educational presentations. Band members give brief introductions to each song about its history, source(s), pertinence to Jewish culture and other cultures, its musical arrangement, as well as teaching simple lyrics and rhythms to sing and clap along. Adding to the participation level, the band can bring a dance leader to teach the simple line and circle dances that traditionally accompany the music.
The Rebbe's Orkestra band members are:
Beth Cohen-violin/mandolin/ tenor banjo/Macedonian Tambura/ bowed psaltery/ penny whistle/ lead vocals-cantor;
Barbara Friedman-electric bass/Macedonian tambura/vocals;
Randy Edmunds-guitar/ Macedonian tambura/vocals;
Mary Masuk-percussion: doumbek, riqq, frame drum, daide, Turkish wooden spoons, pojk, snare drum & cymbal.
Special guest(s): Member(s) of Rikud Yiddish dance troupe.
The Rebbe’s Orkestra Band Member Bios:
BETH COHEN - violin, cantor, mandolin, tenor banjo, and vocals, is a well-known vocalist, string musician and music teacher in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. She has been running her own music studio in Albuquerque since 1983, where she teaches voice, violin, guitar, piano and mandolin to students of all ages. In 1991, Beth received her Bachelor of Music degree in voice (performance) from the University of New Mexico. Since 1995, she has served as music director and Cantor at Congregation Nahalat Shalom where she also directs the 20-piece Community Klezmer Band, tutors the pre-Bar/Bat Mitzvah students, directs and performs in Alavados Holy-days band --and co-produces/coordinates the renowned annual Klezmer music and dance festival "KlezmerQuerque". Over the years, Ms. Cohen has taught music, band and orchestra in both public and private schools in Albuquerque & Santa Fe. Beth began singing and accompanying her singing with the guitar at age seven and she was the recipient of many music awards and apprenticeships throughout her childhood. Growing up in a home where both parents spoke Yiddish, Beth learned to sing in Yiddish--although she has (regrettably!) never learned to speak this unique and expressive language. Since 1996, Beth has performed in Goddess of Arno Balkan dance band. Between 1984 and 1999 she was a member of Svirka-women's Balkan chorus, the folk quartet Ellis Island Tradition and the vocal trio Earth Angels. From 2006-2014 she was also a member of ‘Gamelan Encantada.’ Beth was a guest violinist with the Canadian touring group Classic Albums Live at Popejoy Hall on the 'Beatles' Abbey Road & Greatest Hits' U.S. tour in 2013. Throughout her life, Beth has played in all kinds of ensembles including Celtic, classical, cowboy/western, blues, Reggae and Middle Eastern.
RANDY EDMUNDS - guitar, tambura and vocals, is a founding member of The Rebbe's Orkestra. He is a versatile rhythm guitarist who is experienced with the complex rhythmic and harmonic patterns of Balkan, East European and Middle Eastern music. His guitar work provides a unique texture and fullness to the band's harmonic layer. Randy also plays the Macedonian tambura on several of the group's Sephardic pieces, and his lyric baritone voice adds another thread to the tapestry of sound woven by the band. He studied violin as a child in his home state of Louisiana and later picked up the guitar when he attended college in Texas. Randy's musical roots lie in the American genres of old-timey, gospel, bluegrass and country-western. He eventually expanded his repertoire to include Israeli, Greek, Rom (Gypsy), and Balkan folk songs after he discovered some Yiddish folk songs in a folk song book he was studying. Randy has performed ethnic music for many years in a duo with wife Beth Cohen, as a member of Goddess of Arno Balkan band, as a guest artist with Svirka women’s Balkan chorus, and as a member of Sandanski men's Balkan Chorus. He was also a founding member of the folk trio Village Idioms and he's a special guest artist in The Nahalat Shalom Community Klezmer band. Randy also works full-time as a personal care attendant for disabled people.
BARBARA FRIEDMAN - electric bass, tambura and vocals, provides the solid foundation for the band's rhythmic drive. For over 30 years she has been singing and playing music professionally as a member of Goddess of Arno Balkan band, Svirka women's Balkan Chorus, Erenler, Wired for Sound and other popular Middle Eastern and Balkan groups in New Mexico. An avid collector, student and performer of Eastern European music, Barbara regularly attends ethnic music workshops and studies with the top musicians and ethnomusicologists from Europe and the USA including Esma Rhedzepova, Queen of the Macedonian Gypsy singers & Merita Halili, the famous Albanian vocalist. In addition to adding rhythmic solidity to the band, her bass playing adds a unique melodic layer to their sound: lending a trombone-like quality to the melody line. Barbara is also skilled on the Macedonian tambura, which she plays on some of the band's Sephardic pieces and her powerful voice adds another layer to the band’s dynamic sound. At Congregation Nahalat Shalom, Barbara performs in Alavados-Holy Days band and she is a special guest member of The Community Klezmer Band.
DEBO ORLOFSKY - accordion and vocals. Debo (a.k.a. Debra Orlofsky) has been singing in and around ABQ since the late 1980's. Following a few stints in hippie-punk and goth-rock bands, Debo performed as the lead singer of Splinter Fish, a seminal alternative band on the ABQ music scene. Well-known for her powerhouse vocals and presentation, inventive lyrics and percussion, and heart-grabbing harmonizing, Debo was invited to sing with Animal Opera, a local group of "all-stars" that rocked the NM desert with African dance music. She was also part of the world beat rock band, Manna from Nowhere. Debo sings and plays accordion and piano in the rockin' country blues band Alpha Blue that showcases her original songs. In her own Big Rock Studio, she engineered and mixed Alpha Blue's debut CD, "Agave Summer" - a spaghetti-western/middle-eastern folk-rock opera - which was released in the summer of 2004. Debo studied classical piano as a child, picking up the accordion by accident several years ago. Knowing how little respect the accordion has had in American pop music since the guitar assumed preeminence, she tried to put it down but found it was much too tightly strapped on. After a few close encounters of the Klezmer kind, she found her way to The Rebbe's Orkestra and all have decided that it was destiny.
MARY MASUK – Percussion (doumbek, riq, tupan, klezmer pojk, cymbal,dajde). Mary Masuk plays doumbek (Middle Eastern hand drum), tappan (balkan big drum), the riqq (Arabic tambourine), and tar (frame drum). Her interest in hand drums began in the early 1990’s when she started taking Middle-Eastern percussion classes with noted Santa Fe drum teacher, Polly Tapia Ferber. She continued studies in following years, by using her vacation time from health care work to attend summer music and dance camps at the Mendocino Woodlands in California, where she was immersed in the strange and wonderful rhythms of the Balkans and Middle East and began her studies and friendship with master Lebanese percussionist Souhail Kaspar. Mary has produced concerts and workshops in Albuquerque featuring Souhail and his accompanying musicians. In 2006, she traveled to Turkey on a tour organized by the renowned Turkish folk dancer Ahmet Luleci and Souhail Kaspar, which focused on the traditional music and dance of Turkey. Mary was the percussionist with the Zevk Orchestra in Abiquiu, New Mexico and in 2005, as she also began performing with Albuquerque’s The Rebbes Orkestra-klezmer & Judaic band and Goddess of Arno, Balkan dance band as a guest percussionist. She is now performing with both groups as a full time member and has recorded with both groups. She is the main percussionist on The Rebbe’s Orkestra popular CD “Klezmer y Mas.” Mary recently retired from 38 years working as a nurse practitioner in women’s health, performing at least 70,000 pap smears in that time. She is delighted now to have more time to dedicate to a different kind of performance!
"Spanning styles from klezmer to Israeli and Middle Eastern to Sephardic, The Rebbe's Orkestra perform a lively set, infused with a respect for tradition as well as a playful sense of humor and joyousness that erases many of the stigmas attached to 'world music'." ---Michael Henningson, Music Editor - Weekly Alibi, New Mexico
“… people gathered to hear the program: music by The Rebbe’s Orkestra -a klezmer band, and poetry by Palestinian-American poet Lisa Suhair Majaj… The group went on to play Middle-Eastern music, including an Iraqi melody. For an instant I believed peace was possible.” --Demetria Martinez for The National Catholic Reporter
"Thank you so much for the lively mood and simcha you brought to our wedding. We all had a great time dancing. Special thanks for leading the dances, to Randy for the extra help with the PA, and to Beth for coordinating everything and working with us to make sure we could have such a magical evening with you all." --A satisfied customer
Additional Booking Notes
The band can provide its own pro-sound system (12-channel board, speakers on stands, mics, cables, stands, monitors and more) through guitarist Randy for an extra fee. Please inquire. The band has many different sound and tech configurations, depending on the event and situation.
For the 5-piece band to be heard (and to hear themselves so they can play in tune!) over 40 or more people, here are the basic sound requirements:
5 MUSICIANS = 12 INPUTS:
4 VOCAL MICS, 4 INSTR. MICS & 4 D.I. BOXES [ALL MICS ON BOOM STANDS PLEASE]
12 mic cables.
#1 Debo – 2 inputs:
1 VOCAL MIC
1 D.I. box - accordion
#2 Beth – 3 inputs:
1 VOCAL MIC
1 D.I. BOX - violin w/pick-up.
1 INST. MIC: mandolin & tenor banjo.
#3 Barbara -- 2 inputs:
1 VOCAL MIC
1 D.I. BOX: string instr.
ELECT. BASS - has her own stage amp - BUT If there is – or is not a Back Line, please inform us asap.
#4 Mary – 2 inputs:
2 INST. MICS FOR PERCUSSION: hand drums (doumbek, tambourines), pseudo-bass drum, snare drum & crash ( or splash) cymbal.
#5 Randy -- 3 inputs:
1 VOCAL MIC
1 INSTR. MIC - string
1 D.I. BOX –acoustic guitar with pick-up.
If there are specific colors or a dress code for a wedding or event, please indicate this in the performance agreement.
Lighting will vary depending on the performance situation.
Klezmer, Yiddish songs, Wedding music,
& Eastern European tunes:
Ahavo Rabo and Rushishe Sher
*Ale Brider – freylekhs
Alexandrovsky – Russian waltz
*Asher boro – Hassidic wedding benedictions
*Asher Noson Lonu Toras Emes – freylekhs/Liturgical
der Badchens freylekh
Baym Rebin’s Sude – Khosidl
Behusher Khosid - Honga
*Bei mir bist du Shayn
der Broiges tanz and Shulem tanz
*Chossen Kalle Mazeltov - Siman tov umazel tov –
Hava Nagila - Yesilim – Joyous wedding dance medley
Dance from Maramanos – Honga
Dobryden – Bessarabian Chusidl – Rumanian Sirba Suite
*Drey Zikh Dreydele
Fisselekh, fisselekh – honga
Freylikh fun der Khuppe
Freyt Aykh Yiddelekh – freylekh
der Gasn Nign – Yiddish hora
Gersh Yankl’s Tango
der Glater Bulgar
*de Greene Kuzine and My Little Cousin
Grishicher Tanz - Terkishe
Hora – Sucheava – Russian shers Medley
*Ivdu et Hashem B’simcha – Hassidic suite
Kallarash – hora
Karapyet – Russian folk dance
Khosid Wedding dance – honga
Khsidishe nigunim (Boyberiker Kapelye) - khosidl
Kolyn – freylekh
*Korobushka – Russian folkdance
Lebedikh un Freylekh – freylekh
*Ma Yofus (Yoshke, Yoshke)
Mazel Tov – table music
Ot Azoy – khosidl
*Oy Meyn Kepele – shiffers tanz
Oy Tate – khosidl
Reb Schwatrz’ Nigun – honga
*de Rebbe Elimelekh
de Rebbe is gegangen – khosidl
de Rebbe’s Waltz
dem Rebben’s Nign – freylekh
Rikud – freylekh/Bulgar
Roumanian Horas and Bulgars
*Rozhinkes mit Mandlen
Rumanian Hora and Sirba
Rushishe Sher medley
Sadeger Khosid – freylekh
*die Sapozhkelekh - hora
Satmer Purim Nigun “Bulgar a la Naftule”
*Sholem zol zayn – Shiffers tanz
*Shnirele Perele – Shiffers tanz
Simkhas Toyre – Khosidl or Shiffers tanz
Terkishe medley: Old, Terk in Amerika and Araber tanz
Terkishe yale-ve-yove tanz
dem Trisker Rebn’s Khosid
Vu Bist du Geveyzen fur Prohibishe – frelekh/Bulgar
*Yossel, Yossel – Joseph, Joseph
a Yuhr est noch Mein Chasene – freylekh
Israeli & Liturgical :
*David Melekh Yisrael
*Erev Shel Shoshanim
*Eretz Zavat Chalav
*Hana ava Babanot
*Hinei Ma Tov
*Liturgical Medley: Hevenu Shalom Alekhem, Ose Shalom & Lo Yisa Goy
*Litugical Medley: Mi Khamokha, Ki Khem Khayenu & Akh el Elohim
*Yesh Lanu Taish
Sephardic, Middle-Eastern, Greek & Other :
*Adio Kerida (Tango)
*Avre tu Puerta Cerrada
*Cuando el Rey Nimrod
*Un Dia yo Bezi
*A Kasar el Rey
*Maoz Tzur (13th century Venetian)
*Los Sietes ijos di Hana
La Marcha de los Novios
Valse de escoba
Kurdili Hicaz Kar
*Istanbul & Hinei Ma Tov
AND MORE!! Current repertoire varies and is ever growing & changing.
If you have favorites -- request well in advance.
The Rebbe’s Orkestra has choreographed a traditional old world-style musical Jewish wedding ceremony which can be adapted to your needs - -
Basic Outline of Ceremony:
1- Beginning with 15-20 minutes of music as your guests arrive (can also include playing for bedekns/ veiling &/ or an opshpiln dem khasn / prelude for the bridegroom), this musical welcome segues into a warm introduction by the Rabbi, Cantor Beth or other officiator of the ceremony.
2- The officiator directs and makes any appropriate blessings-- &/ or announces the entrance of the wedding party and / or wedding couple (individually or together).
3- The band will play one (or two - at your request) processional pieces. Usually these are traditional Gas-nigns or Zhoks (in slow triple-time), and the other might be a Terkishe or a March (in moderate duple-time).
4- More blessings are made; the wedding couple (and optional wedding party) makes seven circles or dances under the chuppe (wedding canopy), as the band plays Dodi Li (from the Song of Songs), or Erev Shel Shoshanim or Hanava Babanot --or a niggun or instrumental tune of your choice.
5- The officiator conducts more of the traditional prayers leading into the seven wedding benedictions which will be sanctified and punctuated by the band's rendition of a joyous Chassidic melody of Asher Bara.
6- As the officiator concludes the service, the wedding couple (or just one of them) stomps on a glass (actually a NON-cfl lightbulb wrapped in a cloth napkin) and the band breaks into Chossen Kalle (or Chossen Chossen or Kalle Kalle or Mentschen Mentschen) Mazeltov & Siman Tov Umazeltov leading everyone into a joyous circle dance, lifting the newly-weds up in chairs (optional) for all to celebrate and share in their simcha.
7- The band can continue with more uplifting Jewish music to fill out the hour: ‘Hava Nagila’ (in Hebrew and in Spanish), and traditional Klezmer dance tunes: Bulgars, Freylekhs, Hongas, ending with the traditional ‘Freylekhs fun der khuppe’ (away from the canopy) and ‘Tsu der vetshere’ (escort to the banquet). [The band can also play other music -at your request- that is not on the repertoire list with enough advance notice - 2 month minimum for non-klezmer or non-Jewish music].
Influences & Inspiration
Old recordings of klezmer music and Yiddish theater form the early 1900's. Jewish jazz- Benny Goodman and Peggy Lee. From the Fiddlers House PBS special with Itzhak Perlman. Darshan project, the maqam project, flamenco musicians in New Mexico. Steve and Edie. Fiddler on the Roof. Yossele Rosenblatt. KlezmerQuerque festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
5 MUSICIANS = 12 INPUTS: 4 VOCAL MICS, 4 INSTR. MICS & 4 D.I. BOXES [ALL MICS ON BOOM STANDS PLEASE] 5 MONITORS. If band is doing its own sound, there is a 1 hour load-in set-up time and 1 hour strike and load-out time.