Ilana Cravitz is a violinist specialising in authentic performance of klezmer and baroque repertoire. Ilana is one of a handful of professional violinists in the UK playing klezmer music in the traditional style. She is the latest link in a musical
chain stretching back centuries, having learned aurally from living exponents of
the tradition and through recorded sources dating back to the dawn of the recording era.
Ilana is also a teacher: she has introduced hundreds of people of all ages to klezmer
playing through courses at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS, University of
London), at workshops, and at events like the Fiddles on Fire and the Genius of the Violin Festival, KlezFest London and
Witney folk weekends. She takes Jewish music out to communities around the UK and her book, Klezmer Fiddle - a how-to guide, is published by Oxford University
Ilana was a founder member of the
London Klezmer Quartet, a traditional 4-piece ensemble which toured Australia six times, headlined at music festivals in Brazil, Finland, Germany, Sweden and Norway, and broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and BBC television, ABC Radio National in Australia, and New Zealand national radio. The group has appeared at UK venues as diverse as the South Bank Centre, Vortex Jazz Club and the Victoria and Albert Museum (Video of LKQ) and has also performed and toured in Belgium, Holland, Latvia and Switzerland. Ilana has been a guest artist with bands including Klezmer Klub, She'koyokh, and
the US ensemble Isle of Klezbos.
She specialises in organising and performing in klezmer keilidhs under the banner 'Hopkele',
with drummer/dance leader Guy Schalom.
Forays into the world of Sephardic music
and flamenco have seen Ilana working with Los Desterrados (Radio 3 World Routes recording), and Kantos, an ensemble comprising Monica Acosta (voice), Ulises Diaz Ropero (percussion), and Steve Homes (guitar). Ilana
also enjoys playing English and Celtic folk music: she appears regularly with ceilidh band The Muckers, and performed the Scottish fiddle solo in the world premiere of Nigel Hess's ballet suite 'The Old Man of Lochnagar' at Sadler's Wells in October 2007.
Ilana also performs on the baroque violin and viola da gamba, and has toured and recorded with the European Union Baroque Orchestra, The Sixteen, and Victoria Voices and Viols.
She is a member of the new group London Viols and appears regularly with Cafe Mozart, Essex Baroque Orchestra, Suffolk Baroque
Players and her own group, The Lantana Ensemble. The latter group premiered Ilana's work for soprano and string quartet, 'Geoffrey's Jubilee', in 2018, which led to an offer of publication from Corda Music. She has also worked with the Parley of Instruments. Her work with professional period instrument groups has taken her all over the UK and to Germany, Hungary, Mallorca & the Spanish mainland. You can see video of Ilana's appearances with
period performance group
Il Festino at St John's, Smith Square, and St James's, Piccadilly playing Castello sonata and
Vivaldi 'La Folia'.
Ilana studied traditional klezmer fiddle technique and Yiddish dance with leading artists in the klezmer revival including Deborah Strauss, Alicia Svigals, Michael Alpert, Zev Feldman and Andreas Schmitges. Her baroque violin studies included lessons with Catherine Mackintosh, Walter Reiter, Andrew Manze and Mimi Mitchell, and she also studied the viola da gamba with Richard Boothby. Ilana gained an ARCM (PG) as a result of her post-graduate studies at the Royal College of Music. In a parallel life, she has a BSc in Biological Sciences and Chemistry from the University of East Anglia, and for 15 years the majority of her time was spent doing PR work for charities and campaigning organisations.