Leonard Bernstein: The Man and His Music

Maestro Aaron Kula Programs

An overview of one of the greatest American Jewish musicians of the 20th century. His life and music were deeply affected by his Jewish roots. His three major symphonies, popular songs, interfaith mass, and Broadway shows are peppered with Jewish themes and ideas addressing faith and love.


MAESTRO AARON KULAActive performer, educator, composer and conductor
Aaron Kula is an active performer, educator, composer and conductor. His lifelong interest in Classical, Jazz and Folk music led him to form the award-winning KCO (Klezmer Company Orchestra) in 1997, which performs and blends repertoire from each of these genres.

Maestro Kula conducted the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) orchestra for six years before being appointed the first Director of Music Performance and Education at FAU Libraries in 2003. His interdisciplinary activities at the University include performing, archiving, and directing the annual Kultur Festival. He often lectures about the library’s diverse and historical print music archives and leads educational workshops and master classes.

Kula has recorded four CDs with KCO, using vintage melodies from the archives as source material for his new compositions. In 2011, the Library of Congress selected his CD Beyond the Tribes to be included in its national music archives. Kula served on the conducting faculty at New England Conservatory (NEC) in Boston, where he conducted high school and college orchestras from 1986 to 2012. Previously he served on the faculties of Boston University and the Chautauqua Music School in New York and guest conducted the Boston Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Erie (Pa) Civic Ballet, Boston Conservatory Symphony, Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus, Boca Raton Sinfonia and New Hampshire Ballet.

He has worked with renowned artists including Yo-Yo Ma, Richard Stoltzman, Hakan Hagegard and members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and has led many international orchestra tours with NEC, Harvard and Stanford universities. He has also performed with New World Symphony in Miami and served as a consultant for the Klezmer exhibit at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. Maestro Kula holds a Bachelor of Arts in music theory and Judaic studies from the University of Minnesota and a Master of Music in theory and conducting with Distinction in Performance from New England Conservatory of Music.

A cross genre ensemble that defies classification. KCJO continues to evolve by embracing tradition and imagination with a roster of accomplished jazz and classical musicians. Founded by Aaron Kula, KCJO debuted in 1997 with a mission to re-imagine vintage music from various genres through stylized arrangements and improvisation. Over time the ensemble expanded its repertoire with over 300 transformed works from jazz, Broadway, American folk songs, Klezmer, Yiddish theater, Latin Jazz, Mideastern, Mediterranean, and classical music. Kula often uses archival music from collections across the globe as source material for creating new compositions.

In 2009, KCJO released its award winning CD Beyond the Tribes, which was selected in 2011 by the Library of Congress (LOC) for inclusion in the Copyright Acquisitions Division. The LOC cited this recording as representative of an important American culture that would “enrich the collections.” In 2012, the band released its second studio album Klezmerology and in March 2016 released their third album called JubanoJazz, celebrating the fusion of Latin Jazz and vintage American Klezmer melodies. From 2011 to 2014, Kula led KCJO on concert tours to California, Arizona, and Rhode Island. In 2015 KCJO was invited to perform in Canada at the Ashkenaz Festival in Toronto and Montreal Jewish Music Festival. In 2018 the band collaborated with the Grammy winning Latin Jazz flutist Nestor Torres in a concert for Jewish Federation of Broward in Florida.

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