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Michael Kahan, z"l

Michael Kahan, courtesy Klezmer Gourmets websitefrom the Jewish Music Mailing list on June 4, 2008:

There is very sad news from Manchester, UK.

Our friend, violinist Michael Kahan was killed last Sunday.

List members from the UK, plus anyone who has attended KlezFest London will remember Michael as a wonderful musician and a dear, dear soul.

Jeff Warschauer and Deborah Strauss

It is with great sadness that we at the Jewish Music Institute relate the tragic and untimely death of one of our klezmer family in the North, Michael Kahan. KlezFesters will remember Manchester based, Michael and his sensitive violin playing—particularly with Ros Hawley in a well known and esteemed duo called Klezmer Gourmets.

Michael was inexplicably stabbed to death near his home on Sunday. He had popped out in the morning for some breakfast bagels for his wife and son, and some guy got out of a car and stabbed him to death. Friend and colleague, Adrian Dobson says: 'It just doesn't seem real. Such a waste! His life together with Eva (whom he married only last summer) was just beginning to take off. They gave each other so much and had so many plans together. The wonderful thing was that he had just begun seeing his teenage son again after so much time apart, and there was definitely a dream of being part of a family again'. Adrian adds: We are all in a state of shock here at Michael's tragic death. Nothing can prepare us to cope with such random and extreme violence, and absolutely nothing can explain or excuse it. I fear that we are only beginning to appreciate the extent of our loss as the tragedy continues to unfold. Many of us musicians were inspired by Michael who was so generous with his talents, and we all valued his warmth, enthusiasm and creativity. I will miss him as a very kind and good friend, and I will remember him in my playing of klezmer for as long as I live.

Klezmorim in London and Manchester played in tribute to Michael on Sunday, Jun 8—see below.

Ilana Cravitz, the London-based klezmer violinist and workshop and jam organiser says' He was a very gifted fiddler and a stalwart of the Manchester klezmer community, running regular workshops and other sessions. He had also been an enthusiastic participant at KlezFest, and this year taught some Tuesday classes at SOAS in London for the JMI. His death is a really tragic loss'.

In London those who would like to help Ilana and Friends pay tribute to Mike, would be very welcome to attend Ilana's session at the Cross Kings, 162 York Way, London N1 between 1pm and 4pm on Sunday 8 June. You can call Ilana on 0782 551 0881

Ros Hawley was due to play with Michael at an outdoor event in a Manchester park this coming weekend. She says, 'Sadly and tragically, violinist Michael Kahan died at the weekend. He was my friend and duo partner, and we were due to be performing in our duo, Klezmer Gourmets, at FEAST! a community picnic festival at Platt Fields. We were intending to be strolling musicians entertaining the 'picnic-ers' with our Klezmer tunes.'

As a tribute to Michael, Ros and her husband Fish have invited his musician friends to play with them in the park. She envisages 'The slots will be like a jam session for Mike, where we play together tunes he enjoyed. He loved dancing too and was recently taking on leading dancing at events'.

Adrian Dobson says: I am so glad that Ros has given us the chance to meet this weekend to play klezmer together and dance in Platt Fields Park. It feels absolutely right that we remember Michael with the music and dance that he loved. We won't ever be able to fill the space that he has left, but we will be able form a circle of hugs with all our memories of Michael in the centre.

Ruth Steinberg from Leeds writes: Michael was at the last Klezfest London and I remember sitting in a restaurant round the corner from the Shul talking with Geraldine and her team with a few of us about 'Klezmer up North' and exploring how we could build. It was at the JMI Liverpool Wind Band event with Frank London event that I last saw him and can only think of him as a lifeful and life affirming musician and a kind and gentle Jewish man'.

Ros and friends have set up an email address for anyone wishing to leave any messages and thoughts—Steve Landin has put this on the Klezmer Gourmets website too. Ros says: The Klezmer Gourmets website is going to become a place where musicians can leave their thoughts so that there is a collective focused space for people to remember together, Eva wants this too, so please keep an eye on this and leave something there, and let your Klezmer networks know the same.

Life up here is so strange—we were meant to be rehearsing today for a number gigs we had coming up—it was meant to be a time of looking forward to the summer and the gigs this brings and enjoying playing.

Hopefully we are helping Eva and the family by giving people a focus to help them come to terms with the shock of what's happened and her some kind of space to be with her family'.

Laoise Davidson, who with Yvonne Glass, and Barbara Rosenberg is running KlezFest London this year says: "Not only was Michael a gifted violinist and teacher who was passionate about Klezmer music and Jewish culture, but he was also a very happy guy who always had a smile on his face. He will be terribly missed."

The klezmer London team, as well as the entire faculty of KlezFest—who will all pay tribute to Mike at this year's KlezFest (10–15 August)—join me in sending the traditional Jewish greeting of wishing you all a long life.

Some of the faculty who have heard the awful news have said:

He was a dear soul and friend. —Jeff Warschauer

He'll be missed, a lovely man.... let's put our thoughts out to his family.....and of course honour and remember his at Klezfest! —Merlin Shepherd

This is so tragic —Frank London

I am so incredibly sorry to hear this terribly sad news. I was really looking forward to seeing him again at Klezfest. I always enjoyed chatting about music with him and comparing klezmer notes. I know that the SOAS klezmer class this year respected him a lot. —Meg Hamilton, violinist of She'koyokh Klezmer Ensemble

We just got the news and are in shock. Michael was an incredibly sweet person and wonderful musician. —Josh Horowitz and Cookie Segelsein

Deborah and I spent some lovely one-on-one time with Michael at KlezFest London. I found him to be a passionate and incredibly intelligent musician. As Josh said, we are deeply saddened by this horrible news. —Cookie Segelstein

Michael was a student of Cookie's and mine at Klez Fest London and he was a wonderful player and human being. —Mark Rubin

The thoughts and wishes of all of us are with Eva, and Mike's and Eva's families. We wish them the health and strength to come through this sad time.

Yours sincerely

Geraldine Auerbach MBE
Director, Jewish Music Institute
SOAS University of London
P O Box 232, Harrow, Middlesex, HA1 2NN
Tel 020 8909 2445 mobile: 07971 818 262
Website www.jmi.org.uk

bbc news

Wife pays tribute to murdered man

The wife of a man stabbed to death as he went to buy bagels for breakfast has paid tribute to her "kind, gentle and gifted" husband. Violinist Michael Kahan, 39, died after being stabbed twice in Crumpsall, Manchester. It is thought his attacker had mental health problems.

The Jewish man was found outside Johnstone's Leyland Decorating Centre in Middleton Road, near his home.

A 31-year-old man held on suspicion of murder remains in police custody.

'Instantly likeable'

His wife Eva said: "Michael was a very kind, gentle and gifted man—he was just going to buy Sunday breakfast but he never came home.

"He had a great sense of humour, was very chatty and instantly likeable. "He was simply a nice guy and we are devastated at what has happened. We just want to be left to grieve in peace."

Mr Kahan trained at the Royal Northern College of Music and was an expert in a type of Jewish music known as klezmer. He was in a band called the Klezmer Gourmets.

A post-mortem examination revealed he was fatally stabbed once in the abdomen and once in the chest.

A 48-year-old man who was arrested on suspicion of murder has been released on police bail pending further inquiries.

Story from BBC NEWS: news.bbc.co.uk

From the UK Daily Mail, Jun 4:
Stabbed violinist 'killed by discharged schizophrenic' on breakfast shopping trip, by James Tozer
Last updated at 5:59 PM on 04th June 2008

A violinist stabbed to death near his home in broad daylight was allegedly killed by a man who had recently been discharged from a mental hospital, it emerged today.

Michael Kahan, 39, had gone to buy bagels for Sunday breakfast for himself and his wife at the weekend when he was attacked.

Neighbours of the man accused of murdering the father-of-three said he had recently been treated in hospital for schizophrenia, and an investigation has been launched into his care.