JMI - Transforming Lives Through Jewish Music

We are the Jewish Music Institute. We curate, educate and celebrate – bringing to life this rich seam in world culture. Our mission encompasses the music of the Jewish people wherever they are and wherever they have been, preserving and developing this great genre for the benefit of present and future generations.
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Welcome to JMI's May Newsletter by Klezfest 2018 Head of Faculty, Alan Bern

Hi! I’m Alan Bern, and It’s my pleasure and honour to address you through this month’s JMI newsletter! I’m delighted to be the Head of Faculty for this summer’s Klezfest, working together with a simply great group of colleagues from Great Britain, North America, Germany and elsewhere. 

I’m a composer, pianist, accordionist and cultural activist, and I’ve been part of the amazing phenomenon we call the “klezmer revival” since the late 1970s. Back then, nobody could have imagined how the music would spread throughout the world, spawning new groups and styles wherever it went and re-awakening interest in Yiddish language, culture and history at the same time. Which brings me nicely to this year’s JMI Summer Schools.

If you’ve already participated in Klezfest (klezmer music), Golden Peacock (Yiddish song) or Ot Azoy! (Yiddish language), then you know that, on a scale of 1 to 10, they easily hit 11 when it comes to combining learning and fun. Plus, as the title of the great book about the Shtetl says, “Life is With People,” and at the JMI Summer Schools you connect with other people from near and afar in countless life-enriching ways. So, to the “experienced” among you – join us again in 2018, enough said! And to those of you who haven’t yet participated in a JMI Summer School – the door is wide open! You just need to walk through it! 
A bit of good news for everyone: if you register by June 1, you’ll get the early booking discount, never a bad thing! (Why pay more if you don’t have to?)

I mentioned above the dizzying proliferation of musical styles over the last 40 years inspired by the klezmer revival. That is indeed one of the special topics of this year’s Klezfest. With people like Josh Dolgin, Ilana Cravitz, Susi Evans and yours truly on the faculty, we’ll look into how different artists mix past, present and future to create a unique, individual musical voice. In plenary sessions, ensembles and instrument classes, we’ll explore different ways of learning and making klezmer music and we’ll generate impulses meant to last long after the summer programme has ended. Since a large proportion of klezmer music was originally dance music and we still love playing for dancing, another main goal of Klezfest this summer will be getting clear on the connection between dance and music: What are the main Yiddish dance genres? What are their tempos, beats and typical melodies? How are Yiddish dances related to other European dances? 

And what would be a dance workshop without a real dance party? (Don’t ask). So on Wednesday,  August 22nd, we’ll channel all our musical and dance-ical energy into a Dance Party at JW3 - everybody invited – where you can play your best dreydlekh and show your best moves. We’ve already alerted the air traffic controllers to dangerous thermal columns rising from JW3 that evening, so you’ll want to arrive by ground transportation. Don’t forget your instrument and your dance shoes!

And here’s something else not to forget: on Wednesday, May 16th, the fabulous Simon Schama and Friends will share their musical memories in an evening of delicious entertainment. Only 6 places left.
That about wraps it up for the moment. Speaking for myself, for my colleagues and for JMI, we’re really looking forward to seeing you soon. In the meantime, stay healthy and get ready!  

Warmest greetings,
Alan Bern


Musical Memories
Wed 16 May
North West London location

Michael Grade JMI Joint President is delighted to invite you to share Musical Memories and a lot of laughs with his Famous Friends. We are very excited to welcome 10cc's Graham Gouldman, JMI Joint President Valerie Solti, Actress and Writer Tracey-Ann Oberman and Actor Henry Goodman 

Message from Michael Grade: “I’m so sorry I can’t be with you on the 16th May due to pressing business in the House of Lords. I am delighted that Simon Schama has agreed to step into my shoes – surely the first time the understudy has been replaced by the star! I know you will give as generously as you can to this wonderful cause.”

Donations raised at this event are essential to help to support and expand JMI's music educational programmes and to assist students of all ages to study Jewish music and culture. We very much look forward to hearing from you and do hope that you can join us. To secure your place, please call the office on 0207 898 4307 or email Jennifer Jankel here 



Ot Azoy!
Learn Yiddish
19-24 August 
SOAS, Russell Square

Discover JMI's famous full immersion courses in Yiddish Language, song and culture for people of all ages, levels and backgrounds, where complete beginners can learn to speak, read, write, sing and even dream in Yiddish in a week. Ot Azoy Yiddish language classes are held at 5 levels and are directed by the head of Yiddish at UCL, Dr Khayele Beer with a faculty of world class Yiddish tutors and experts. As well as hands-on classroom teaching, the course also features an extensive cultural programme of music, theatre, poetry and lectures from a world of Yiddish past and present. Shura Lipovsky, the Director of The Golden Peacock (Goldene Pave), will also teach a daily session of Yiddish through song.

Helen Beer - Head of Faculty
Sonia Pinkusowitz-Dratwa
Lily Kahn
Sima Beeri
Simo Muir has just been confirmed to the faculty, plus more experts and teachers are being added for language, film and lectures.


The Golden Peacock
Learn Yiddish Song
19-24 August 
SOAS, Russell Square

The Golden Peacock Yiddish Song course will be led by internationally acclaimed Yiddish singer and teacher Shura Lipovsky with esteemed colleagues from around the world. It is designed for all singers who wish to deepen their knowledge of the rich Yiddish song repertoire. You will spend the morning studying music theory, repertoire, roots and traditions of Yiddish Song, modes and melodies. Afternoons will focus on studying further repertoire, master-classes and a Yiddish Choir. You will be amazed at how much you will be learning, singing and performing Yiddish song in only one week!

This year's faculty, led by Shura Lipovsky, features the combined talents of Lorin Sklamberg, Polina Shepherd, Rachel Weston and Joseph Finlay.

Shura Lipovsky
Lorin Sklamberg
Polina Shepherd
Rachel Weston
Joseph Finlay


KlezFest 2018 
Learn Klezmer, Play Klezmer
19-24 August 
SOAS, Russell Square

We are very happy to announce that our world famous Klezmer summer school is back again for 2018. Join the world famous music school and learn klezmer this summer at KlezFest 2018. Here is a a peek into what you can expect:

  • Traditional Klezmer; history, melodies, ornamentation, dance and accompaniment
  • Play music in ensembles and delve into improvisational techniques
  • Interpret scores, jam and perform to the public.
  • Lectures from the cutting edge of academic research
  • Hands-on tutoring from world leading experts.
  • The international faculty will feature some of the very best klezmer musicians from around the world.

Alan Bern – Accordion (DE/USA) – Head of Faculty
Susi Evans – Clarinet (UK) – Assistant Head of Faculty
Ilana Cravitz – Violin (UK)
Andreas Schmitges – Mandolin/Guitar/Dance (DE)

Alan Bern - Head of Faculty 
Susi Evans - Assistant Head of Faculty
Andreas Shmitges - Dance
(photo Adam Berry)
Ilana Cravitz - Violin/Fiddle
Just announced: Josh Dolgin (Socalled) to join the Klezfest faculty for August 2018


JMI Youth Big Band Summer School
28-29-30 August
10am until 4pm

A 3 day workshop where band members will be given the awesome opportunity to develop ensemble and solo playing skills, led by Tzadik Label Jazz musician and band leader Sam Eastmond.

Fusing together music of Jewish origin and cutting edge contemporary jazz sounds, the JMI Youth Big Band presents Jewish music as you’ve never heard it before! This is the next generation of musical superstars, breaking ground and redefining music of Jewish origin. The band is comprised of teenagers with a passion for music, drawing from funk, soul, jazz, afro-beat and rock influences. Band leader/composer/arranger/trumpet player Sam Eastmond works at the cutting edge of radical Jewish culture (often with legendary New York composer John Zorn as part of his Masada projects). Sam also has huge experience working with Youth Ensembles, and composes and arranges the music for this project.

If you play:

Trumpet, Trombone, Saxophone, Piano, Guitar, Bass or Drums to grade 5+ (or equivalent) standard and you are aged 11-19, then download the application form to join us for future rehearsals, workshops, and performances.

Upcoming shows include:

1st Anniversary celebration show at Klezmer in the Park
Sunday 2nd September 2018
Regent’s Park Bandstand

Chanukah performance at JW3
Monday 17th December 2018
JW3, Finchley Road

If you would like an application form, please email Raphael Knapp here 

We interviewed Sam Eastmond to find out more and that feature can be heard here


Balkan Beat Box, A-Wa, Gili Yalo, Shai Tsabari, Revolution Orchestra, Gilad Ephrat Ensemble plus many more

Headline act Balkan Beat Box Soundsystem will perform their signature mix of world music, jazz, electronica, hip hop and everything in between with special guest singers Ethiopian Israeli Gili Yalo, Shai Tsabari and Yemenite all-star female group A-WA. They will be joined by Vertigo Dance Company, Israel’s leading contemporary dance company, making their debut UK performance with the Revolution Orchestra presenting White Noise, and classical string quartet Gilad Ephrat Ensemble, plus other exceptional guests, creating an unforgettable night at the Royal Albert Hall.

It will be hosted by music and arts broadcaster Suzy Klein and Rob Rinder, reality star of ITV’s Judge Rinder.

Thursday 24 May
Royal Albert Hall


Iva Bittová and Abraham Brody
International musicians Iva Bittová and Abraham Brody present the premiere of their playful new lyrical collaboration.
Wednesday 9 May
Rich Mix

Info here
Klezmer Dance Intensive with Guy Schalom

An accomplished Klezmer dancer, Guy can often be seen leading Klezmer Keilidhs and Yiddish Barn dances all around the world and is founder and course director of JMI’s Yiddish dance course Tants, Tants, Tants.

Friday 18th to Sunday 20th May

Info here
Yiddish Open Mic Café
Dedicated to the memory of Chaim Neslen, a major champion of Yiddish in London and organiser of the “Friends of Yiddish” for many years. 

Saturday 19th May
2pm – 5pm
The Poetry Café,
22 Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BX. 
Cost: A minimal donation on the door to cover expenses (essentially room hire). 
Info: here

*Acoustic musical accompaniment is welcome.


9 May
The London Cantorial Singers Concert
Kenton United, 13 May
Geoff Berner
Balabam, London 
19 May


Annie's Jazz, Southend | 1 May
Info here

The Turbans
Coventry | 3 May
Oxford | 4 May
Chard | 18 May
Porthawen | 19 May 
Hay-on-Wye | 25 May
Brighton | 26 May
Info here

London Klezmer Jam 
The Harrison, London | 6 May
Info here

Oval Tavern, London | 6 May
The Step, London | 19 May
Info here

The Great Yiddish Parade
SOAS, London | 8 May
Info here

Kosmos Ensemble
Jersey | 13-17 May
Rochdale | 18 May
Jersey | 19 May
Bury St Edmunds | 24 May
Info here

Hejira and Fran & Flora
Kings Place, London | 16 May
Info here

Ute Lemper
JW3, London | 22 May
Info here

Stewart Curtis and his Brass Bottom Band  
Green Note, London | 24 May
Info here

Whitechapel Noise book launch
UCL Institute of Jewish Studies | 30 May
Info here

Liran Donin
Vortex, London | 31 May
Info here


Klezmer South
A day's Workshop of Klezmer music, dance and Yiddish song. Come play, dance and sing with internationally acclaimed teachers and performers in Brighton.
Sunday 10th June 2018
10am - 6pm

Info here
The Royal Opera presents the world premiere of a new work by exciting young composer Na’ama Zisser, in a soundworld that thrillingly unites contemporary idioms with the music of Orthodox Hasidic Judaism.
14-17th June 2018
10am - 6pm

Klezmer in the Park 2018
Sunday 2nd September
Regents Park Bandstand

Join a fun-packed afternoon for all the family in one of London’s most beautiful parks with special guest presenter BBC Radio 3 DJ Max Reinhardt.

12:30PM Fran & Flora
1.15PM JMI Youth Big Band  & Sam Eastmond
2PM Shir & Debbie Charles
3PM London Klezmer Quartet  & Kadialy Kouyate
4PM 3yin & Special Guest
5PM Don Kipper & TalkingDrum

Kids Zone
JMI Klezmer Krafting
JMI Face-painting
JW3’s Family Fun
Spiro Ark’s Hoopla with Hebrew 
Jewish Museum’s Arts & Crafts 
Balloon Band

Plus Klezmer on Stilts, Community Hub, Hendon Bagel Bakery, Rimmon Judaica and much more

More info here


JMI's mission is to educate, entertain and inspire people of all ages and backgrounds through a diverse and exciting programme of concerts, workshops, lectures and summer schools, attractive to Jews and non-Jews alike. 
Your donation can help us achieve this.




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Support JMI’s flourishing programme of concerts, events and workshops, which are made possible by the support and generosity of friends, patrons and sponsors.

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