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Lisa Gutkin is best known as violinist, vocalist, and Grammy-winning songwriter for the world renowned klezmer band The Klezmatics, for her appearance in Sex and the City, for her work with Sting in his Broadway production "The Last Ship," and most recently as co-composer and on-stage musician for Paula Vogel's award winning play INDECENT which opened on Broadway in April 2017.
Lisa’s acclaim includes the title of "one hot fiddler" by Cyndi Lauper, “hauntingly emotional” vocals according to the L.A. Times, having her song “Gonna Get Through This World," composed with the lyrics of Woody Guthrie described by Pete Seeger as “a piece of genius" and the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Music Album of the Year. She has played a huge variety of genres and styles and with a variety of symphonies. She was a founding member of the Celtic group Whirligig, a long-standing member of house band of the Fast Folk Songwriter's Collective, and has composed for film and television.
Though Lisa’s career has blossomed to a world-spanning, genre-hopping scope that few artists ever achieve, she started from humbler roots. She was born in Brooklyn to a musical family, and her memories of sitting under the piano as her grandmother played and dancing to folk songs with her mother shaped the performer she grew to be. Beginning at age 8 and through high school, Lisa played in the district, borough, and city-wide orchestras.
During her teens, she explored rock, bluegrass and Irish music. She then began writing fiddle tunes before moving onto larger instrumental pieces, and most recently songs with lyrics.
While earning her Bachelor of Music degree in classical violin at Queens College of New York, Lisa's versatility quickly attracted the international musical community. She played with the Southern Italian music theater group I Giullari di Piazza, with Amigos del Tango, and with Early Music’s The Waverly Consort, placed first in the Redwood Mountain Fiddle Contest, traveled to Ireland, and as part of the Fast Folk collective, performed with Rod MacDonald, Jack Hardy, Richard Shindell, The Roches, Shawn Colvin, Suzanne Vega, and many more.
Lisa’s composing projects include a full symphonic rendition, orchestrated by John Marino, of her piece "Waiting Still," performed by The Klezmatics with symphonies in Hungary and Germany, music for Dragon Productions' Seeing Is Believing with Dutch choreographer Maggie Boogaart, Jody Oberfelder's Landmark of Dreams, and several episodes of the final season of HBO's Sex & The City.
Lisa's interest in songwriting led to a MacDowell Fellowship with collaborator Maggie Dubris, and a Norton Stevens Fellowship. The songs written at MacDowell form the basis for Lisa's solo shows, and two tracks are included on her solo EP From Here On In, produced by John Lissauer (Leonard Cohen, Bette Midler).
As an improviser, Lisa has worked with the Soldier String Quartet, Joe Gallant & Illuminati, contemporary R&B artist Pru, poet Imelda O’Reilly with Joel Diamond on piano, and Peter Knight of Steeleye Span. For several years before to joining the Klezmatics, Lisa’s career in traditional Celtic music saw her playing and recording with Tommy Sands, John Whelan, Pat Kilbride, Jerry O'Sullivan, Steve Cooney, Cathie Ryan, and Ed Miller, and in the bands Whirligig and An Cré (“the earth's clay” in Irish) with John Redmond and Brendan Dolan.
Lisa’s theater credits include co-composing and performing in the Tony Award Winner, INDECENT, which opened on Broadway in April 2017, composer for Ruth Maleczech's Song For New York, fiddler in Mabou Mines' Peter & Wendy, Pilobolous Dance Theater’s Davenen with The Klezmatics, Ralph Lee's Mettawee River Theatre Company, and Pat Cannon's Foot & Fiddle Dance Company. She was music director for the Lincoln Center Director's Guild production Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off, music director for the New York Renaissance Festival in Sterling Forest, NY, and co-orchestrater for Song of Songs by Elizabeth Swados.
Respected as well for her teaching abilities, Lisa released an instructional DVD, accompanied by Pete Rushefsky on Homespun Tapes entitled Play Klezmer Fiddle! by Lisa Gutkin. She leads fiddle styles workshops at folk festivals, as well as master classes and artist residencies for universities and folk organizations, and many of her private students are or have gone on to become professional musicians.