At 13, Paul Green was selected by Leonard Bernstein to perform in the televised Young People’s Concert with the New York Philharmonic.
Green’s orchestra teacher had wanted the eight-year-old to play the viola. But once the young Paul heard the sound of the clarinet, it was clarinet or nothing. That determination fueled a passion for music and an unusual career that few can match.
A budding talent, Green began studying privately with the noted clarinet pedagogue Leon Russianoff, an association that lead to an introduction to Bernstein and the invitation to perform in the 1962 Young People’s Concert. Just three years later, artistic director and pianist Charles Wadsworth invited Green to the Festival of Two Worlds at Spoleto, Italy, where he performed with Mr. Wadsworth and renowned artists Jacqueline du Pre, Richard Goode and Judith Blegen.
In 1966, Green won the prestigious Young Concert Artists International Auditions and attended Yale University, where he studied with Keith Wilson, and performed as principal clarinetist with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra. He graduated Yale with a BA in Theory and Composition in 1970 and continued his studies at Juilliard, where he studied with Joseph Allard, receiving an MS degree in performance in 1972. From 1970-75, he soloed with the National Orchestral Association, the Hartford symphony, and Kansas City Youth Symphony, and performed chamber music with Richard Goode, Fred Sherry, Ko Iwasaki and Ursula Oppens, among others.
It was at this period Green began considering other career possibilities. Offered the co-principal clarinet position of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, he instead opted to attend Brooklyn Law School, where he was an editor of the Law Review and a member of the Moot Court Honor Society. He graduated cum laude in 1978. In 1985, after several years at prominent New York law firms, Green joined the faculty of Brooklyn Law School.
A successful attorney and law professor, Green couldn’t suppress his passion or drive for music. Although he hadn’t touched the clarinet for five years, Green returned to his original teacher, Leon Russianoff, for advice and coaching. In a rousing comeback, he won the Distinguished Artists Award, part of the 1988 Artists International Competition. In 1989 he was appointed first clarinetist of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra. In 1990 he returned to music full time and played a solo recital at Merkin Concert Hall in New York, which garnered a rave review in The New York Times. Just two years back into the profession, Green was named to the clarinet Artist/Faculty position at the newly formed Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton (now the Lynn University Conservatory of Music).
In 1997, Green was selected as an Artistic Ambassador for the United States Information Agency for which he concertized in Moldova and the Middle East. He has participated in international festivals of contemporary music in Krakow, Poland and Chisinau, Moldova in 1999, 2000 and 2001, as well as the 2002 International Clarinet and Saxophone Festival in Xian, China, the Wienermusikseminar 2002 in Vienna, the EuroArts Festival in Pusan, Korea, and as a soloist in Brasov, Romania in the summer of 2003.
From 1992 to 2007, he was a faculty member of the Lynn University Conservatory of Music in Boca Raton. From 1996-2011 he was a member of the Florida International University faculty, and from 1998 to 2013 he was a faculty member of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. He served as First Clarinetist of the Florida Grand Opera Orchestra and the Atlantic Classical Orchestra. He was a founding member of the Florida Woodwind Quintet and played with the contemporary music group NODUS Ensemble. His band Klezmer East enjoyed a popular following in South Florida.
Green relocated to the Berkshires of western Massachusetts in 2013, where he serves on the faculties of Williams College, Skidmore College and SUNY Schenectady Community College, and the Berkshire Music School. He is active in the chamber music scenes in the Berkshires, Hudson Valley and New York Capital District. Recent activities include performances with The Musicians of Ma’alwyc, Concerts in the Village (Kinderhook, NY), the Berkshire Symphony and Close Encounters with Music.
As a noted pedagogue, Green has developed a course in Klezmer music, which he has taught at Florida Atlantic University, Florida International University and Skidmore and Williams Colleges. He has performed at the “Watch and Play” program for children at Tanglewood and given master classes at Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute. His activity as a jazz clarinetist in South Florida included engagements at the Lotz Music Series, Miami’s Jazz in the Gables and the Jazz Summit in Fort Lauderdale. Jazz appearances in New England have included the Music and More festival in New Marlborough, Made in the Berkshires in Pittsfield and the Green Street Café in Northampton, all in Massachusetts.
Green, who founded “A Summer Celebration of Jewish Music” in the Berkshires, and is a founding member of the Berkshire Jewish Musicians Collective, is also active on the lecture circuit. Called the “go-to guy for Jewish music,” he regularly engages audiences with his lecture-demonstrations on a variety of topics related to Jewish music, as well as jazz and other themes.
His interest in jazz and Jewish music has inspired Green to create his own arrangements and compositions of jazz-klezmer fusion. Intrigued by the rigors of jazz harmony and the power of Jewish melody, he weaves the best of both genres together in a compelling mix that allow audiences to experience music in fresh new ways. He has produced two CDs with his band Two Worlds that explore this interest. The latest, “A Bissel Rhythm” was named one of the Best Jazz Albums of 2019 by the Chicago Tribune.