The year was 1982 and Klezmer music was enjoying a global renaissance with a new audience. That same year, four musicians who were playing Jewish music for the Winnipeg Jewish community, Eli Herscovitch, Myron Schultz, Shayla Fink and Kinzey Posen joined forces to create what became Canada’s first Klezmer band, Finjan. Schultz suggested the band prepare a show for the Winnipeg Folk Festival in 1983 and brought in his brother Victor to play violin and Nerissa Werthman to play guitar. In 1985, multi-instrumentalist Daniel Koulack replaced Nerissa on guitar and later, Sasha Boychouk took the place of the late Eli Herscovitch. The band features sophisticated arrangements of traditional Klezmer pieces as well as originals. Their mix of old and new works combined with entertaining shows have thrilled audiences for four decades.
Finjan made its debut in February 1983 on the former national CBC program “Identities.” Since then, the band has appeared throughout North America, in Europe and has recorded five albums, two of which were nominated for a Juno award. Finjan also won for best Classical Recording at the Western Canadian Music Awards for their recording with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra under the direction of conductor Bramwell Tovey.
Early on, CBC took an interest in the group and featured Finjan in a variety of shows, documentaries and interviews and became their “Klezmer House Band.” One highlight, was when the late award-winning CBC documentary maker Dave McLauchlin, travelled with the band to Minneapolis for their premier concert and produced a well received radio doc. Other highlights include an appearance in Monte Carlo for a private birthday party, performing with the Louisville Orchestra in the Louisville Zoo, under the baton of Keith Lockhart (Boston Pops Conductor) and recording with producers Danny Greenspoon and Ben Mink (K.D. Lang). Finjan has also appeared on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion and twice on PBS’ The Lonesome Pine Specials (1989, 1991).
In 1987, Finjan commissioned celebrated Winnipeg composer Sid Robinovitch to compose a suite for Klezmer band and orchestra. The result was a five-movement work that was recorded by the CBC and has been performed with orchestras, such as the WSO, TSO, CSO, KW Symphony and the National Academy Orchestra of Canada.
In 1988, Finjan appeared in the movie “The Outside Chance of Maximillian Glick,” starring Saul Rubinek, Fairuza Balk and Jan Rubes. In 2003, Finjan performed in “The Saddest Music in the World” by Guy Maddin, starring Isabella Rossellini.
1985 “Where Were You Before Prohibition” Fat Uncle Records
1988 “From Ship to Shore” Fat Uncle Records
1992 “Crossing Selkirk Avenue” Red House Records
2000 “Dancing on Water” Rounder Records
2001 “ Klezmer Suite, Music of Sid Robinovitch” CBC Records