‘Polina and Merlin Shepherd – the Led Zeppelin of contemporary Yiddish music.’ – Seth Rogovoy, author, “The Essential Klezmer”
Merlin & Polina Shepherd perform together in a way that is rarely encountered. They play music from several linked cultures and incorporate improvisation, freedom and spontaneity. With a unique approach and dynamic, they perform klezmer and Russian music. They weave a sound that moves the listener physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Clarinettist, composer and band leader Merlin Shepherd is a uniquely innovative force in the klezmer renaissance. Polina Shepherd is a virtuosic vocalist, pianist, composer originally from Siberia. Together they blend traditional and newly composed Yiddish and Russian song with klezmer and southern Mediterranean music. Full of passion, depth & subtlety not often encountered in our global village, their style has its roots in traditional forms and takes us to new dimensions.
Polina was born in Siberia, Russia and grew up in a home where songs were often sung at table. She grew up in Tatarstan which placed her close to Islamic ornamentation and timbre. This helped her develop a unique vocal style and four octave range. She joined Simcha, the first Russian klezmer band to form after Perestroika. With them she toured and sang in dark Soviet theatres, to Boris Yeltsin and to the world. Now living in Britain, Polina continues to tour worldwide as a Yiddish and Russian singer and educator. Her compositions include music for theatre shows, large scale choir compositions.
Among their collaborative projects are Three Centuries Ago, a programme featuring Rohan Kriwaczek on The Saddest Bagpises in the World, a trio Sklamberg & the Shepherds with Lorin Sklamberg, the lead singer of the Grammy winning Klezmatics and a leading exponent of Yiddish song, a programme with an Icelandic choir Söngfjelagið, Reykjavik, also Mit Jiddisch gegen Rechts with Stella’s Morgenshtern (Germany), concerts with Jinta-la-Mvta (Japan) and many others.
The duo also work as The Sound & Light Cinematic Duo, playing to the Yuri Morozov Collection of B&W silent Jewish films made in Russia and Ukraine made between 1910 and 1930.