Take 3 former NZSO players, an Arts Laureate composer, a bass player of renown, a charismatic singer and you have The Kugels! The ensemble has been together for 10 years now, and has completed nationwide tours for Arts on Tour NZ and Chamber Music New Zealand, as well as performing as guest artists at several NZ festivals.
With passion and sensitivity, The Kugels play traditional Klezmer music and original works by their in-house Arts Foundation Laureate composer/accordionist Ross Harris. Klezmer music is the folk music of Jewish people from Eastern and Central Europe and is enjoying a huge rebirth of interest and popularity. The music is wild, passionate and haunting and makes you want to dance!
The Kugels recorded a second CD in October 2020 and it will be available at this concert. Their first CD was voted in the top 10 by the Auckland Herald in 2017.
Ross Harris, accordion, former NZSO French horn player and lecturer at Victoria University, is one of our leading NZ composers. He became an Arts Laureate in 2015 and is the recipient of numerous other prizes and awards. His symphonies and numerous chamber works are recorded and performed both here and in Europe
Robin Perks, violin, played in a number of orchestras in Europe in his 20s, and was a member of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra for 37 years. He has performed Klezmer in Wellington for about 15 years culminating in his membership of the Kugels, which has become a perfect vehicle for his passion for the genre.
Debbie Rawson, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet and Saxophone, is a former NZSO player, probably best known as the leader of the ensemble Saxcess, and veteran of many tours with diverse ensembles for Chamber Music NZ and Arts on Tour NZ, and performed in USA, Canada, Belgium and Australia. Until recently she was Head of Woodwind at the NZ School of Music, Victoria University.
Nick Tipping, bass, wears many hats - from a PhD and lecturer in Jazz to playing with national and international stars such as the NZSO, Bic Runga, and Kenny Burrell. He tours with top local bands such as The Jac and the Hip-Town Bangers, and is nationally well loved for his programmes ‘Inside Out’ and ‘The Works’ on RNZ Concert.
Anna Gawn, soprano, classically trained at Victoria University, has since become a versatile and charismatic soloist. She has been oratorio soloist of choice for Peter Godfrey [Godfather of NZ choral music], and given premier performances of Ross Harris’s moving and beautiful Yiddish songs, especially dedicated to her. Her dramatic vocals and brilliant rapport with audiences create a vibrant layer of expression and colour to the ensemble.