Sacramento klezmer violinist, mother of 2, killed in freak accident

Annette Brodovsky, a respected Sacramento klezmer violinist and pregnant mother of two, was killed by an allegedly drunk driver as she was about to attend a Passover seder. She was 33.

According to police, the driver, Brandon Bowman of Aurora, Colo., ran over Brodovsky and another woman, Jessica Plaut-Cappon, on Monday evening, April 2. Both were standing on a friend’s front lawn in the quiet Sacramento suburb of Arden Arcade. Plaut-Cappon remains hospitalized.

“The shock, enormity and incomprehensibility of this tragedy is so absolutely overwhelming that I’m still basically incoherent,” said Andy Rubin, who was Brodovsky’s bandmate in the Freilachmakers, a popular Sacramento-based klezmer ensemble. “We’ve lost a truly wonderful and angelic person. Annette was kind, totally selfless and generous beyond belief.”

Bowman, whose blood alcohol level reportedly was twice the legal limit, was booked on two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter, felony drunk driving and driving with a suspended license. Bail was set at $500,000.

The tragedy devastated Sacramento’s tightly knit Orthodox community, especially among congregants at Kenesset Israel Torah Center, to which Brodovsky and her husband, Jason, belonged.

Also known by her Hebrew name of Leorah Simcha, the classically trained Swiss-born violinist immigrated to the United States in the 1990s. She held a master’s degree in music from California State University, Sacramento.

In addition to her work with the Freilachmakers, Brodovsky played with a female quartet, Bessamim, and taught music in public schools as well as in private lessons. She also taught religious school classes at Kenesset Israel Torah Center.

Brodovsky and her husband had two daughters, ages 5 and 8.

“She was perhaps the most musically gifted person I ever met,” added Rubin. “She gave of herself so much, and she had so much yet to give. She understood klezmer music from its deepest roots, from the very first second of her exposure to it. It spoke to her, and she sang back to it on her violin.”

According to a California Highway Patrol spokesperson, Bowman was driving a 1992 Acura Legend at more than twice the 25 mph limit. He apparently drove onto a lawn where Brodovsky and Plaut-Cappon were waiting to go inside for a seder. Plaut-Cappon was leaning into her car to pick up her 5-month-old child when she was struck.

The suspect then hit Brodovsky, the spokesperson said, instantly killing her and her unborn son.

Bowman reportedly fled the scene but was arrested at a nearby convenience store. Plaut-Cappon’s son was not injured.

Rubin called Brodovsky’s funeral “the saddest thing I’ve ever witnessed or been part of. To have lost her, and so suddenly and so brutally, is traumatic and painful in the extreme. I can only hope that with the passage of time the pain will ebb and we’ll have only her exquisite music and her multitude of acts of lovingkindness to remember her by.”

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.