Born: September 22, 1956 Primary Instrument: Clarinet
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.
Known simply as “Krakauer” to his fervent following, he is nothing less than an American original who has embarked on a tremendous journey transforming the music of his Eastern European Jewish heritage into something uniquely contemporary. That journey has lead Krakauer to an astounding diversity of projects and collaborations ranging from solo appearances with orchestras to major festival concerts with his own improvisation based bands.
He has shared the stage with a wide array of artists such as the Klezmatics, Fred Wesley, Itzhak Perlman, Socalled, Eiko and Koma, Leonard Slatkin and Iva Bitova while being sought after by such composers as Danny Elfman, Osvaldo Golijov, David Del Tredici, John Zorn, George Tsontakis, Mohammed Fairouz and Wlad Marhulets to interpret their works. In addition, he has performed with renowned string quartets including the Kronos, Tokyo and the Emerson and as soloist with orchestras such as the Orchestre de Lyon, the Orquestra Sinfonica de Madrid, the Phoenix Symphony, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Dresdener Philharmonie and the Detroit Symphony, among many others.
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.”
Having been showered with accolades for his groundbreaking work in classical, klezmer and jazz, Krakauer now finds himself at an artistic crossroads and is ready to make a daring leap into a new phase in his career. His next project, The Big Picture, may be his most adventurous to date. With an all-star crew of fellow musical renegades, Krakauer is re-imagining familiar themes by such renowned film music composers as John Williams, Marvin Hamlisch, Randy Newman, Wojciech Kilar and Vangelis, as well as interpreting melodic gems by the likes of Sidney Bechet, Sergei Prokofiev, Mel Brooks, Ralph Burns, John Kander & Fred Ebb and Jerry Bock that have appeared in popular films. Having already contributed to films by directors Ang Lee and Sally Potter, Krakauer now takes on the challenge of bringing a modernist vision to tunes that resonate on a deeply emotional level with generations of moviegoers.
“For me, it’s like putting on a new suit of clothes,” says Krakauer of The Big Picture. “And this project is also a way for me to connect the dots of all the music I’ve been playing throughout my career. So I’m very excited about this new step we’re taking.”