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East: Asian and Jewish Music for Mountain Dulcimer


Within the last couple of weeks, we received an email from our good friend, Mr. David Bagdagnani, inviting us to a concert that would be taking place on Sunday evening, May 13th at the North Water Street Gallery in Kent.

The concert was part of the "Standing Rock Cultural Arts' 'Around the World' Music Series" of which Mr. Bagdagnani is the curator. It was entitled "East: Asian and Jewish Music for Mountain Dulcimer" and featured the talents of Professor Alex Lubet of the University of Minnesota who the program notes described as a "composer/multi-instrumentalist". 

The interlude was described in part in the program notes as follows:

In this special program, Alex Lubet, a distinguished professor of music, American studies, Jewish studies, and bioethics at the University of Minnesota, will perform new and innovative works for the mountain dulcimer by Asian composers, as well as original music rooted in Lubet's Jewish heritage.


The program will include music by the Chinese composers Ziwei Shi, Mingzhu Song, Chuxiang Wang, and Yan Pang, all written for and arranged by Alex Lubet and premiered in 2017, live and on television in Chengdu, Sichuan province. These works were recorded in China and will soon be released on a CD.

The concert will also include pieces written for Alex Lubet by Gian Pujakusuma (Indonesia), Soojin Lee (South Korea), and Iris Shiraishi (Japanese-American), as well as original works by the performer. Most of these works will be receiving their American premieres.

Kent-based musician Mike Hovancsek will join Lubet, playing Japanese koto (13-string zither) and percussion for a collaborative

About the performer:

Born in Chicago in 1954, composer, multi-instrumentalist, author, and educator Alex Lubet is Morse Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor of Music and Affiliate Faculty in The Center for Bioethics at the University of Minnesota, where he has taught since 1979.  A composer who has received over 500 performances of his works on six continents, he has performed widely in North America, Europe, and Asia and has served as visiting professor in Bolivia, Poland, and China.  His specialties include music and text for theater, dance, and improvisation ensembles, and works on Jewish subjects.

Lubet has had a career-long interest in encounters between cultures.  Manifested in his early work in the use of musical and extra-musical influences from beyond the European tradition, especially the musics of Asia...

Alex Lubet faculty page from the University of Minnesota:

This was not the first time we had heard music from China played on a mountain dulcimer; in February, 2018 we attended a concert at the Hudson Library put on by the Cleveland Chinese Music Ensemble which featured several such selections.


On this occasion in Kent, Professor Lubet displayed his mastery of the instrument  playing in his own distinct style. Also impressive was Mr. Hovancsek and together they brought the show to an appropriately stunning conclusion. 

To no surprise, the Gallery was quite packed with mountain dulcimer fans including Mr. Jay Krasnow who we had talked to before at the "Starfish" which is a coffee house in Painesville. Traveling even farther was a dulcimer player named Sarah who came all the way from Oberlin.

Proving to be a very accessible guy, Professor Lubet was pleased when we told him that we worked for "Margaret W. Wong & Associates, LLC" because he was quite troubled by the immigration policies of the current administration. He went on to share with us that his mother immigrated to the United States from Canada after immigrating there from Ukraine.

As for his prowess with the mountain dulcimer, we were aghast when Professor Lubet told us that he had only been playing it for three years and that he was self-taught. To be sure, he plays ten other instruments (whew!) but he considers the dulcimer to be his favorite.


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC