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Junior Klezmer Orchestra
Alumni Feature: Then and Now

Alexander Levinson

Currently a Student in 5-year program for a double major in cello performance and computer science at Bard College


In a few words, how did your time in the JKO influence you personally and/or professionally?

Klezmer music trilled and jived around me as a young boy, and its nuance and moving rhythm made me enjoy it! Since I was a cellist, my father recommended that I join the Junior Klezmer Orchestra. 

It was a great experience because not only was it fun, but it taught me how to adapt and improvise on the cello (given that there are usually no formal cello parts in Klezmer music). I would read either the trombone or bass part and make it work for the cello. Our band leaders, Lori or Alex pulled us youngsters together and we played klezmer for public audiences! 

This experience with the band still holds an important part in my life as a cellist: I now have better improvisation skills and understand the klezmer style. I briefly joined a klezmer band in college and it was a lot of fun! The Junior Klezmer Orchestra definitely helped me achieve that.

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