About the Kugels

Klezmer is the folk idiom of the Jewish people. A love of this music has  drawn the combined talents of these musicians – all prominent soloists in their own right – to form this exciting new ensemble – The Kugels.

Their programmes feature the original Klezmer compositions of accordionist/NZ Arts Laureate Ross Harris, interspersed with music from the traditional repertoire. Not content to keep this music in dance halls and weddings, The Kugels bring these exciting and evocative songs to the stage, and have shared their passion and skill with audiences from the café to the concert hall.

The ensemble features the highly expressive sound of violin, clarinet, accordion and bass, laced with the multi talented reeds of Debbie Rawson on soprano sax, clarinet, bass clarinet, and the Maui Xaphoon, and the seductive vocals of Anna Gawn. A wide palette of sound is produced by these versatile musicians, and their concerts are presented with a commentary which is informative, entertaining, and engaging. Immensely versatile, this group has great potential for touring to both large and small venues, and to play to a variety of audiences.

Klezmer Music appeals to both young and old, and has huge appeal to music lovers and music societies everywhere.

Robin Perks – violin:

 Robin played in various orchestras in Europe in his 20s, and was a member of the NZ 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, saxophone, xaphoon: 

Debbie plays clarinet, bass clarinet, xaphoon and saxophone. She is a former member of the NZSO and is probably best known as the leader of the ensemble Saxcess. She is a veteran of many tours with diverse ensembles for Chamber Music NZ and Arts of Tour NZ, and has performed in the USA,Canada, Belgium and Australia. Until recently she was Head of Woodwind at the NZ School of Music, Victoria University

Ross Harris – accordion: 

Ross is a composer who has written many works including operas, symphony orchestras, songs and chamber music. He took up the accordion and started writing klezmer music in his 60s.

Nick Tipping – bass:

Nick wears many hats – from a PhD and lecturer in Jazz to playing with national and international stars such as the NZSO, Bic Rubga, and Kenny Burrel. He tours with top local bands such as The Jac and the Hip-Town Bangers, and is nationally well-loved for his presentations ‘Inside Out’ and ‘The Works’ on RNZ Concert.

Anna Gawn – soprano:

Anna is classically trained at Victoria University and 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 premiere performances of Ross Harris’ 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.