“David Krakauer is such an overwhelmingly expressive clarinetist who moves so seamlessly between different genres that for a minute you’d almost think that there’s no appreciable difference between jazz, klezmer and formal classical music.”
- Will Friedwald The Wall Street Journal
Only a select few artists have the ability to convey their message to the back row, to galvanize an audience with a visceral power that connects on a universal level. David Krakauer is such an artist. Widely considered one of the greatest clarinetists on the planet, he has been praised internationally as a key innovator in modern klezmer as well as a major voice in classical music. In 2015 he received a Grammy nomination in the Chamber music/small ensemble category as soloist with the conductorless orchestra “A Far Cry”, and a Juno nomination for the CD “Akoka” with cellist Matt Haimovitz. For the past decade Krakauer has emerged as an electrifying symphonic soloist who brings his singular sound and powerful approach to the concert stage. He has appeared with the world’s finest orchestras including the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Baltimore Symphony, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, the Weimar Staatskapelle, the Orchestre de Lyon, the Phoenix Symphony, the Dresdener Philharmonie, and the Seattle Symphony.
Highlights of Krakauer’s lauded career include performances with the Kronos, Emerson, Tokyo, Orion and Miro String Quartets;; performing during the inaugural season of Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall with renowned jazz pianist Uri Caine;; an eight-year tenure with the Naumburg Award-winning Aspen Wind Quintet;; tours and recordings with Abraham Inc which he co-leads with Socalled and Fred Wesley and performing in the International Emmy Award-winning BBC documentary Holocaust, A Music Memorial from Auschwitz. Krakauer’s discography contains some of the most important clarinet recordings of recent decades. Among them are The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind (Osvaldo Golijov and the Kronos Quartet/Nonesuch) received the Diapason D’Or in France. The Twelve Tribes (Label Bleu) which was designated album of the year in the jazz category for the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, and Paul Moravec’s Pulitzer Prize winning composition Tempest Fantasy (Naxos). He has also recorded with violinist Itzhak Perlman/ the Klezmatics (Angel) and Dawn Upshaw/ Osvaldo Golijov (Deutsche Gramophon). His unique sound can be heard in Danny Elfman’s score for the Ang Lee film Taking Woodstock and throughout Sally Potter’s The Tango Lesson. New releases include his 2015 album Checkpoint with his band Ancestral Groove (Label Bleu), Paul Moravec’s Clarinet Concerto with The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP sound) and The Big Picture on his own label, Table Pounding Records in 2014.
Writer Mark Stryker hinted at the visceral nature of Krakauer’s performance in his Detroit Free Press review: “Krakauer played with astounding virtuosity and charisma. A furiously improvised cadenza leapt between low and high registers in a way that suggested John Coltrane, building to an excited peak. After the concerto he also offered an encore, improvising by himself with an air of ritual, before playing a swift klezmer dance with the orchestra.”
Krakauer’s latest CD Checkpoint with his band Ancestral Groove was released in the US in 2016 and garnered a five star review in Downbeat Magazine. Already a critical hit in Europe, this recording represents the next step in his unique musical evolution. Here’s Krakauer remixing Krakauer, with his unmistakable sound, new arrangements of his signature repertoire and an electrifying 4-piece band.
At the 2015 Grammy Awards, Krakauer was nominated for his work in the category of Best Classical Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance along with his colleagues from the Boston based conductorless chamber orchestra: “A Far Cry”. The same year he also received a Juno nomination in Canada for his recording “Akoka” with cellist Matt Haimovitz.
An avid educator, David Krakauer is on the clarinet and chamber music faculties of the Manhattan School of Music, the Mannes College at the New School and the Bard Conservatory.
What people are saying about Krakauer:
“Masterful technique… boatloads of pure adrenaline… like a roaring free jazz solo, laced with virtuosic multiphonics…”
— Jeremy Eichler, Boston Globe
“Krakauer’s playing is transportive, it knocks on the door of mystical consciousness but then you want to clap your hands and stomp your feet and shout. Music doesn’t happen in the heavens; it’s mundane, phenomenal, earthy. No matter the transcendent intention, music is a deeply physical act. And Krakauer’s clarinet playing–fingers, breath and lips, the spittle and the calluses, the clacking of the keys–is grossly human. And as making music is physical, so is the listening. To listen to David Krakauer is to hear humility in the face of a great and lasting tradition while witnessing the essential rebellion that keeps culture moving, adapting, insisting. It’s about making clay tablets so to smash them, and then put the pieces in a box so the next generation can have them. Krakauer’s music reminds us to never sit still. God did not finish creating on the seventh day. He merely rested, waiting for us to continue the work. Krakauer is one of God’s greatest artificers.”
— Peter Bebergal, author of Too Much to Dream: A Psychedelic American Boyhood
“Discovering [klezmer] changed everything for me. It really did. Because I just fell madly in love with the music. My parents are both musicians— my father was a clarinetist, my mother was a really great bassoonist; she recorded with Stravinsky. Listening to David Krakauer had a tremendously powerful effect [on me]. It helped me discover Yiddish again, which was hugely important.”
— Tony Kushner, playwright & screenwriter (Angels in America, Lincoln) quoted in Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish by Abigail Pogrebin