Welcome to this January's newsletter

Hello and happy holidays!

I have a very special holiday gift to bring to you all -it gives me enormous pleasure to be able to announce that in 2015 we will be relaunching - by popular demand - JMI’s Klezfest with a week–long summer programme of klezmer led by accordion maestro Dr. Alan Bern. This is hugely exciting and I urge you all to book your places swiftly as it promises to be a very popular event. Also this summer – and also open for booking of course - are our fantastic Yiddish courses – Ot Azoy and Di Goldene Pave. It’s the perfect festive gift to yourself.

And if you’re in need of a New Year’s resolution - how about opting to sing in Yiddish at JW3 in the Zingt! Chorus led by Rachel Weston (alternate Tuesdays from January).

All good wishes 

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We are very happy to announce that our world famous Klezmer summer school is back again for 2015.

Join the world famous music school and learn klezmer this summer at KlezFest 2015. Here is a peek into what you can expect:

• Lectures from the cutting edge of academic research
• 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.

The international faculty will feature some of the very best klezmer musicians from around the world:
Dr Alan Bern (piano/accordion – Germany)
Ilana Cravitz (violin – UK)
Joel Rubin (clarinet – USA)
and outstanding guest tutors from the UK will be joining the faculty for masterclasses. Please keep yourself updated by checking the website.

Minimum instrumental proficiency, Grade 5 or equivalent; no klezmer experience necessary. All are welcome.
For more information and to book please call 020 7898 4307
or visit our website here


Date: Tue 18 - Fri 21 Aug 
Time: 9am-10pm
Venue: SOAS, Vernon Sq.
Price: £120-£165



Sing Yiddish

Our annual summer song school returns this year with the addition of new faculty, courses and syllabus. Once again the course will provide complete immersion in Yiddish song and song culture. Each day will start with a repertoire class and will be followed by a teaching class.There will be a repertoire class in the afternoon, followed by masterclasses and a Yiddish Choir for all. This year the confirmed faculty so far are course leader Shura Lipovsky, Berlin's Yiddish fold Bard Karsten Troyke, Dr Alex Knapp, Rachel Weston and we hope to be announcing an international special guest tutor to the faculty soon. More details to follow, keep checking the website.

Singers will also be taught Yiddish for Singers with Helen Beer and no day will be complete without joining in the Yiddish choir. There are also social events, Yiddish theatre, film, concerts and much more, so do not delay and book your place early.

Date: Sun 9 to Fri 14 Aug 
Time: 9.30am-8pm
Venue: SOAS, Vernon Sq.
Price: £145-245

OT AZOY! 2015  

Yiddish Language Summer School

Discover JMI's famous full immersion courses in Yiddish Language, Song and Culture for people of all ages, levels and backgrounds, where even complete beginners learn to speak, read, write, sing and even dream in Yiddish in a week. Ot Azoy Yiddish language classes are held at 4 levels, led by world renowned Yiddish Lecturer Helen Beer and her distinguished team of fellow Yiddishists, Sonia Pinkusowitz-Dratwa, Annick Prime-Margules, Lily Kahn and Barry Davis. Shura Lipovsky, the outstanding Director of The Golden Peacock (Goldene Pave), will also teach a daily session of Yiddish through song. Last summer the course was full, attracting participants from across the world, so we recommend early booking.


Date: Sun 9 to Fri 14 Aug 
Time: 9.30am-8pm
Venue: SOAS, Vernon Sq.
Price: £145-245


Sing Yiddish 

Led by Rachel Weston, a professional Yiddish singer, JMI’s Zingt! The People’s Chorus at JW3 is open to all.

Participants learn traditional and new Yiddish songs, nigunim and specific ornamentations of this singing style.
They sing Yiddish songs in 1 – 4 parts with and without sheet music, and nigunim mostly accompanied by piano but also a cappella.

6th and 20th January,

3rd and 17th February

and 3rd March 2015

from 6.45–8.45pm

Culminating in a concert at JW3 on March 17th

£10 per session
To check if you are eligible for a concessionary fee, please e-mail

On alternating Tuesdays from the 13th Jan Polina Shepherd's London Yiddish Choir will also be meeting. See Top Picks below for more details or click here


Date: Tue 6&20 Jan 
Time: 6.45pm to 8.45pm
Venue: JW3, Finchley Road
Price: £10


Sophie Solomon 

JMI's Artistic Director Sophie Solomon was invited to talk at JW3 in London for JDOV. Jewish Dreams, Observations and Visions. JDOV invites interesting and creative thinkers to give “the Jewish talk of their life.” They seek to create a community inspired by what the Jewish people have to offer the world.

Sophie's presentation was titled "Travelling Light Through Life" and features footage from JMI's Drawing Life.

"Imagine a knock on the door in the middle of the night. A departure. An unknown destination. If you had brief minutes to pack a bag, what would you choose? What conjures the very essence of who you are, where you’ve been and where you are going in your life? Questions faced by so many Jews at so many times in our story. This is a speech about the benefits of travelling light through life, free from expectations or preconceptions."

You can view this talk in it's entirety here


Bole, Harlem, Tel Aviv

"Bole, Harlem, Tel Aviv: Ethiopian-Israeli Musicians Play the Diaspora”
In popular representations of the Israeli state and its others, Ethiopian migrants are alternately deployed as a key example of institutional racism or inclusiveness, depending on the perspective of the narrator. In the past several years, though, Ethiopian-Israeli musicians like Abate Barihun and Ester Rada have quietly developed a following in Europe and back in Ethiopia. These musicians have built international careers that, in turn, bring Ethiopian musicians to Tel Aviv as a new stop on their touring routes.
In this lecture, Ilana will describe the process by which Ethiopian musicians have established Tel Aviv as a central node in the Ethiopian diaspora, and how the import of popular African musicians has earned the marginalized Ethiopian-Israeli population social capital as citizens. This is part of book project which stems from her doctoral research.

We interviewed Dr. Webster-Kogen about her book research and this can be heard here


Date: Thu 5 Feb  
Time: 6.30-8.30pm
Venue: SOAS, Russell Sq.
Price: Various


Master Musician

JMI is proud to host the master musician Tcha Limberger for this exclusive masterclass. Come and learn gypsy violin from one of the world’s greatest living exponents of this deep and rich musical tradition. Over the last ten years multi-instrumentalist Tcha Limberger has become one of the most prominent and important figures in folk music of the Carpathian Basin. He studied the music of Kalotaszeg, Transylvania, with the legendary Neti Sandor, and the Magyar Nota style of Budapest with Horvat Bela. Born into a famous family of western European Manouche musicians he grew up surrounded by the Gypsy swing style of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli and has toured with Fapy Lafertin and Lollo Meier. At seventeen he studied modern classical composition with Belgian composer Dick Vanderharst and recently composed the music for the piece by Les ballets C de la B ‘Patchagonia’ directed by Alain Platel.

Other than his Budapest Gyspy Orchestra and the Kalotaszeg Trio, his current projects include a free improvisation guitar duo with classical guitarist Herman Schamp and his all-string swing band Les Violons de Brussels. Until now his performances with the Budapest Orchestra have earned him most notoriety, to which The Sunday Times have described him as “The polymath virtuoso Tcha Limberger is the king of Gypsy music!

All instruments welcome although strings players will benefit the most.
Grade 5 or proficient equivalent.


Date: Thu 5 Mar 
Time: 6.30-8.30pm
Venue: SOAS, Russell Sq.
Price: £7.50-£10


Michael Grade, Maureen Lipman and David Schneider

For the third year running, the JMI Joke Lunch returns on March 10th 2015 to the beautiful Kent House in Knightsbridge. We are pleased to be welcoming back our Joint-President Lord Grade CBE and Actress Maureen Lipman CBE to entertain us with their selection of hilarious jokes. Compere David Schneider, one of the funniest stars of UK stage and screen, will again serve as the Master of Ceremonies. Funds raised at this event contribute towards JMI's educational fund supporting students of Jewish Music and culture of all ages. Delicious lunch will be interspersed with seriously large quantities of mirth and merriment. Save the date and secure your place by calling our office on 020 7898 4307 or emailing


Date: Tue 10 Mar 
Time: 12-3pm
Venue: Kent House, SW7


Book and CD Launch

Celebrated Austrian composer Hans Gal, having escaped the Nazi horrors to Britain, found himself incarcerated as an ‘Enemy Alien’ on the Isle of Man. For the first time his diaries of that experience have been translated and published in English by Toccata Press entitled ‘Music behind Barbed Wire’.

A CD set of Hans Gal's recently recorded 4 symphonies by the Swan orchestra conducted by Kenneth Wood is now out on the Avie Label and will also be launched at this event which is presented by Toccata Press and Avie Records, in association with the International Centre for Suppressed Music, the Hans Gal Society, the Jewish Music Institute and Grand Central culture programme at Central Synagogue.

We interviewed Hans Gal's Daughter Eva Fox-Gal and Martin Anderson of Toccata classics and that interview can be heard here


Date: Mon 19 Jan 
Time: 6.30-8.30pm
Venue: Central Synagogue 
Price: Free 



The restitution of art is a subject that now employs entire provenance departments in auction houses, but what about ‘stolen music’? This lecture intends to address the following questions: Can music be stolen and if so, how can it be restored to its original owner? Careers of composers and performers were interrupted, but who was the victim? The people deprived of their livelihoods, or their public? Once in exile, who has the responsibility of restoring these legacies and should these musical estates be repatriated, or should they remain in the countries where they found refuge?

At this event Michael Haas, Director of Research of the International Centre for Suppressed Music and also serves as Deputy Chair of based at Vienna’s University of Music and Performing Arts. He is also the author of the acclaimed book "Forbidden Music: The Jewish Composers Banned by the Nazis". Drawing on his work, Michael Haas will explore the question of whether or not music can be stolen and subsequently restored.

We interviewed Michael ahead of this event and that feature can be heard here


Date: Tue 3 Feb 
Time: 6.15pm
Venue: Royal Holloway


Jacob's Dream

World renowned Trio Shaham Erez Wallfisch, known for their intense togetherness and extreme musicality, perform Haydn, Brahms, Bruch, Achron and Mendelssohn for a special evening to raise awareness of the New Israel Fund. Come for a pre-performance drinks reception and an exclusive post-performance discussion with the artists.

'Three of the finest instrumentalists of our time' The Classical Reviewer, 2013

The program

Haydn Piano Trio in E flat, XV:31 Jacob's Dream
Brahms Piano Trio No. 2 in C, Op.87
Bruch Kol Nidrei (cello & piano)
Achron Hebrew Melody (violin & piano)
Mendelssohn Piano Trio in D, Op. 49

The Trio are:
Hagai Shaham violin
Arnon Erez piano
Raphael Wallfisch cello

We interviewed Raphael Wallfisch about the event and that interview can be heard here


Date: Tue 27 Jan 
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: Kings Place
Price: Various


2015 Artistic Director: Deborah Strauss 

JMI are proud to be associated with this engaging weekend festival of klezmer and all it’s associated musical and cultural forms. Kleznorth 2015′s Musical Director will be Deborah Strauss and there is an exciting programme of klezmer, Yiddish song, klezmer dance, film and related talks. All served with good food of course and all taking place in the beautiful Derbyshire village of Youlgreave. This will be its 6th year. 

Throughout this weekend, there are instrumental, dance and song strands with Yiddish films, talks and other inputs as well. There are also communal events that bring people together in a celebration of Yiddish culture – singing together, dancing, jam sessions, a tish on Saturday night with traditional food, a “kabaret” provided by participants, and a “groyse orkester” finale.

Last year we interviewed Phil Tomlinson one of the key organisers and the 2014 Artistic Director Christian Dawid and that feature can be heard here


Date: Fri 20 - Sun 22 Mar
Venue: Youlgreave, Derbyshire.
Price: £65-50


Klezmer for all 

After a brief hiatus in its long running history the SOAS Klezmer band has returned to be a permanent fixture on the London scene. Previously known as the SOAS Klezmer Ensemble which featured Francesca Ter-Berg (Sam Lee Band), Rachel Weston (Zingt! and Der Nayer Klang) and Nicki Maher (Opaz), this society has proved to be a stable for some of the rising stars of the Jewish Music scene. 

The group is now led by Josh Middleton (Don Kipper) and Isis Wolf-Light (Yoshke and The Wolves) and meet weekly to rehearse, play and share their love of this rich musical tradition. Although the group is based at SOAS it is open for people to join. For information about how to join please visit their facebook page here

The group have a forthcoming concert:

January 17th
Passing Clouds, Dalston,
Free before 9, £5 before 10 £10 after 
Details here


Date: Mondays
Time: 6pm-7.30pm
Venue: SOAS, Russell Sq.


8th Annual Jewish Primary School Choral Festival  

Boys Town Jerusalem is a residential school situated within Bayit Vegan. It encompasses grades 7-12 and a two year College of Applied Engineering. Graduates receive a full academic high school diploma, qualifying them to enter any college-level institution. Boys Town Jerusalem serves Jews from all backgrounds and is independent of all American or Israeli political and sectarian affiliations. This January will see the British Friends of Boys Town Jerusalem hold their 8th Primary School Choral Festival, which takes place at Artsdepot in North Finchley where twelve Jewish primary schools will be taking part in this years festival. All schools will sing a range of Jewish and Israeli liturgical, cantorial and popular songs. Although the second date on the 25th January is sold out, the first date on the 18th January still has a limited amount of tickets available. 


Date: Sun 18 & 25 Jan 
Time: 6pm
Venue: Arts Depot, Finchley Rd
Price: £14 


Holocaust Remembrance 

To commemorate the 70 anniversary of the liberation of the camps and Holocaust Memorial Day the Jewish Museum has invited Zdenka Fantlova to speak about her experiences. Zdenka Fantlova was born in Czechoslovakia were she enjoyed a happy childhood until the Nazis invaded in March 1939. Life changed dramatically and Zdenka and her family were deported to Terezin. During her time in the camps, a ring made and given to her by her boyfriend Arno became a symbol of hope for Zdenka. At great personal risk she managed to keep the ring with her in seven different concentration camps. Sadly Arno and the rest of Zdenka’s family did not survive. After the war Zdenka went to live in Sweden to recuperate and then moved to Australia where she married, had a daughter and her stage career took off. Twenty years later Zdenka and her family came to live in England. Zdenka wrote a book about her life, ‘The Tin Ring’ which has subsequently been turned into a play. Following her talk Zdenka will take questions from the floor. Candle lighting and Kaddish will be recited. 

Zdenka’s story is suitable for families but the recommended age for children is 13 and above due to the sensitive nature of the topic.

Zdenka's testimonies are an integral feature in JMI's commission Drawing Life which you can read about here 


Date: Sun 25 Jan
Time: 10.30am-12.30pm 
Venue:  Jewish Museum, London 
Price: Free (booking req.)


Hamsa with support from Don Kipper 

Hamsa fuse the music of Jewish Eastern Europe, Greece and Turkey in a Mediterranean mix and features some of the best players in the Jewish Music scene worldwide.

Merlin Shepherd – clarinets
Guy Schalom – drums / percussion
Glenn Sharp – guitar
Emmanuel Mann – bass
Polina Shepherd - piano, keys and vocal.

Support comes from the fantastic upcoming London-based Klezmer group Don Kipper, an ensemble of six musicians with diverse musical backgrounds.

We interviewed Merlin Shepherd (Hamsa) and Dan Gouly (Don Kipper) to find out more about the event and the bands and that feature can be heard here


Date: Sat 7 Feb 
Time: 8pm
Venue: JW3, Finchley Rd 
Price: £5-£10


JMI Joint President Lady Solti 

Jewish Book Week and the Jewish Music Institute together present a father-daughter conversation between theatre impresario Stephen Waley-Cohen and violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen. Facilitated by Valerie Solti, Joint President of the JMI, they reflect on their lives both on and off the stage. Expect musical interludes from Tamsin and other members of the London Bridge Trio, Kate Gould and Daniel Tong, to include Mendelssohn’s Trio in C Minor.

More details can be found here


Date: Tue 24 Feb  
Time: 8.30pm
Venue: Hall 1, Kings Place
Price: £12.50


Events by date: 

Procrastinators New Year's Eve
Thu 1st Jan
Vortex Jazz Club
Dalston, London
Details here

Klezmer Jam at The Harrison
Sun 4 Jan
Free entry
The Harrison, 28 Harrison Street, London WC1H 8JF 

Judith Silver's Space for Peace 
Register at SOAS Russell Square on Monday 5th January, 7 to 9pm, when June Boyce Tillman, will join us to sing and tell us in her inimitable way about the event.  The session will cost £5.00.  You'd need to be free for the event itself in Winchester on Tue 27th Jan 
Here London to Winchester.

Saviour the Music of Cantor Shira Lissek
Jan 16th and 17th
Erev Shabbat and Shabbat Morning srvices 
West London Synagogue
Details here and here
Jerusalem Quartet (Pictured)
Sun 18th Jan
Wigmore Hall
Details here

Rachael Cohen
Sun 18th Jan
Vortex Jazz Club
Details here

Against All Odds
Sun 25th Jan
Cantors Jason Green, Paul Heller and Gedalya Alexander, together with choirs and instrumentalists
Belsize Square Synagogue
Details here 

Daniel Kahn & Psoy Korolenko 
Sun 25 Jan  
The duo known as the Unternationale are coming to London and are offering a wonderful opportunity to participate in a Yiddish music workshop. Sunday 25th January 2015, 3pm - 5pm Nelson Street Synagogue 30/40 Nelson Street, E1 2DE Entrance £15 (£7 unwaged)

Maria Garzon
Thu 29 Jan
Details here

Band events by group:

Don Kipper
Wed 21st jan
Location, Jamoree, Cable Street, East London
Details here

Minimal Klezmer
Sat 10th Jan
The Lighthouse,

Wed 14th Jan
Cable St.

Thu 15th Jan
The Magic Garden

All details here

Polina Shepherd
Yiddish Choir meeting on alternating Tuesday to Zingt!
Starting from Tue 13th Jan
Central London.
Details here

Rachel Weston
Sat 17th Jan
Songs for a Winter's Evening
Cantor Zöe Jacobs
Mich Sampson
Judith Silver
Rachel Weston
Cantor Cheryl Wunch
Details here

Tue 27 Jan
Leamington Music

Thu 29th Jan

Details here

Sun 18th Jan
Kings Theatre
Details here

SOAS Maqam Society
Upcoming sessions for 2015
Wed 14th Jan - 8.00pm - Lucas Lecture Theatre [ex-G2]
Pre-session at 6.30pm in Room G51a
Tue 10th Feb - 8.00pm - Lucas Lecture Theatre [ex-G2]
 Pre-session at 6.30pm in Room L67
Wed 11th Mar - 8.00pm - Lucas Lecture Theatre [ex-G2]
Pre-session at 6.30pm in Room G51a

SOAS Russell Square Campus
Society webpage here


Listen to the world of Jewish music

In this months radio show we have four very diverse features for you to enjoy from the world of Jewish Music. Last year at Limmud Yair dala and Nuriya La Tanita first told the story of Zyriab through their project Bableucia. This January they are launching it with a full ensemble at the Suzanne Dallal Centre, Tel Aviv. We interview both Nuriya and Yair to find out more. Hamsa and Don Kipper play JW3 in February, so we interview both bands to find out more about them, the gig and their music. Michael Haas is hosting a lecture on Music Restitution and we interviewed him to get a little preview of that. We also interview our Joe Loss lecturer in Jewish Music, Dr Ilana Webster Kogen to find out more about her forthcoming lecture and its correlating book project, "Bole, Harlem Tel Aviv". All the features can be found at our radio page here