The National Endowment for the Arts announced today that klezmer clarinetist Andy Statman is among the recipients of its 2012 National Heritage Fellowships. The Brooklyn-based musician will be awarded the nation’s highest honor in folk and traditional arts during a ceremony in the fall.
Reached at his home in Midwood, the 61-year-old bluegrass and klezmer virtuoso told The Arty Semite, “To be placed in the same league as my heroes Bill Monroe, Dave Taras and B.B. King is a tremendous honor.”
Statman is an Orthodox Jew and the decision to schedule the National Heritage Fellowships ceremony and concert on Thursday, October 4, rather than on a Friday night, was made in part to accommodate Statman, according to Liz Auclair, a spokesperson for the National Endowment for the Arts. Auclair said there will be kosher food at the banquet for Statman and his wife, Basha.
Statman and his band went to back up his teacher Dave Tarras at a concert in Washington, D.C. in 1984 when Tarras won the National Heritage Fellowship. The elderly klezmer clarinetist collapsed and suffered a heart attack during the first song, so Statman stood in for him during the performance.