Welcome to February's Newsletter.


I was honoured to represent JMI by playing a couple of pieces on the violin as part of  the Mayor of London's Holocaust Memorial Ceremony last week. This was a very powerful and touching event and to be able to bring music to its core was an important example of JMI's valuable work. It was also timely since this month we will be presenting a special preview performance of our new commission inspired by the drawings and poems of the child-inmates of Terezin.  I am so excited to be able to share this project with you. I am playing violin as part of the ensemble and have therefore already experienced some of the music. Drawing Life has been written by the truly brilliant composer Jocelyn Pook who is creating a piece that tells the story of Terezin with immense beauty and meaning, drawing on a range of sources including archive interviews with survivors and historic video footage as well as the poems written by children at the time.  I encourage you to book your tickets for this very special event at Jewish Book Week on February 22nd. This event will include a discussion with the composer, creative team and Zdenka Fantlova, author of The Tin Ring, who herself survived Terezin, together with Melanie Pappenheim and Lorin Sklamberg of the Klezmatics who are the two featured vocalists in Drawing Life. We are thrilled to have Lorin here in the UK for a couple of weeks. As part of his visit, he will be presenting several concerts together with Merlin and Polina Shepherd in Brighton, London and Richmond.


Also at Kings Place, On Sunday February 23rd, I will be chairing a discussion celebrating 50 years of Fiddler on the Roof, featuring Henry Goodman, whose Tevye at the Savoy Theatre was critically acclaimed, and Jeremy Dauber, whose book The Worlds of Sholem Aleichem: The Remarkable Life and Afterlife of the Man Who Created Teyve is the first comprehensive biography of one of the most beloved authors of all time. JMI is pleased to have devised and programmed The Lives We Live – a free music platform of up and coming bands -  as part of Jewish Book Week. Do check out the listings and try to come down for some fantastic live music.


Meanwhile, I am heading up to Opera North in Leeds on February 8th to present the live improvised score to His People that we first premiered at the Barbican as part of the Jewish Film Festival last year.


Finally, looking ahead please do book tickets now for what promises to be an amazing sell-out concert – Tcha Limberger and his Budapest Gypsy Orchestra at the Union Chapel on March 28th.  Tcha, a blind Manouche fiddle player is a true virtuoso. You will not be disappointed.


Also in March, we are very lucky that Christian Dawid will be over from Berlin for Kleznorth and will be zipping down to London to give a klezmer clarinet masterclass.  


See you all soon



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Preview Performance

Drawing Life, is a Jewish Music Institute (JMI) commission composed by Jocelyn Pook and is inspired by a collection of poems and drawings made by children imprisoned in Terezin. This event on the opening night of Jewish Book Week 2014, will be the preview performance of a powerful new classical work. It has been commissioned by JMI to mark the 70th anniversary of the commencement of the camp's liquidation by the Nazis. The song cycle with live music and video will be followed by a discussion of the work's genesis and ideas, when Pook will be joined on stage by JMI's Artistic Director Sophie Solomon, performers and camp survivor Zdenka Fantlova. The commission has been supported by Arts Council England, PRS for Music Foundation and private donors. It is also the winner of the prestigious PRS Foundation for Music David Bedford Award for Musical Education.

Date: Sat 22 Feb
Time: 8pm
Venue: Kings Place
Price: £26.50




Lorin Sklamberg, Merlin and Polina Shepherd

Lorin Sklamberg of The Klezmatics will join Merlin and Polina Shepherd for three concerts in London, Richmond and Brighton. Lorin, Merlin and Polina are amongst the world’s leading performers of traditional East European Jewish music. They represent three diverse modern nations although historically their families come from very close geographical locations. With that they bring a wealth of musical heritage to this long awaited collaboration in an inspiring new programme of traditional and newly composed Yiddish and Russian song blended with Klezmer and southern Mediterranean Music. The Brighton concert in this series has already sold out but there are still tickets available for their Richmond and London concerts.

Date: Sat 15 Feb
Time: 8pm
Venue: Jamboree
Price: £10/8




Michael Grade, Maureen Lipman and David Schneider

Following last year's enormous success, the Joke Lunch returns on March 11th 2014. We are pleased to be welcoming back our Joint-President Lord Grade and Actress Maureen Lipman 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. This year it is once again in the beautiful Kent House in Knightsbridge, where a delicious lunch will be interspersed with seriously large quantities of mirth and merriment. With over half the places already taken, secure your place and please call our office on 020 7898 4307.

Date: Tue 11th Mar
Time: 12-3pm
Venue: Kent House




50 Years of Fiddler on the Roof

Jeremy Dauber’s The Worlds of Sholem Aleichem: The Remarkable Life and Afterlife of the Man Who Created Teyve is the first comprehensive biography of one of the most beloved authors of all time, dubbed by The New York Times as “the Jewish Mark Twain. On Sunday February 23rd, JMI's Artistic Director Sophie Solomon will be chairing a discussion celebrating 50 years of Fiddler on the Roof. This discussion will feature the actor Henry Goodman as well as the book's author Jeremy Dauber. For more information then please see here

The Lives We Live

Free Music Platform at Kings Place Foyer 24 February – 2 March 2014
Jewish Music Institute is proud to be programming a series of Free Foyer performances at Jewish Book Week.

Monday 24th February
Man Overboard

Wednesday 26 February
Dunajska Kapelye

Thursday 27 February
Katy Carr

Sunday 2 March
Don Kippur

There is no need to book a ticket as this concert series is open to the public, simply turn up and enjoy the music. For exact performance timings and further information on the artist's performing, then please see here.


Date: Sun 23 Feb to 2 Mar 
Venue: Kings Place
Price: See listings.




Led by Polina Shepherd, one of Europe’s leading musicians in the field, JMI's Zingt! The People's Chorus at JW3 is open to all. Participants learn traditional 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 acappella. To book your place with this ever-popular choirmaster, please go here

Date: Tue 18 Feb to 8 Apr
Time: 7-830pm
Venue: JW3
Price: £10 per session 




Dr Alex Knapp: Chinese Jews

Dr Alexander Knapp was the first to hold the post of Joe Loss Lecturer at City University (1992-1999) and at SOAS (1999-2006). Academic, composer and pianist, he has lectured for over 40 years on the subject of Jewish Music. In this lecture Dr Alex Knapp illuminates a fascinating area of ethnomusicological research with his study and findings on the Jews of China. (You Tai Ren) These ethnically Chinese Jews thrived in 12th century Kaifeng, with some scholarly research citing them as being present in Chinese society as early as the second temple period. The full lecture will take place at SOAS Vernon Square campus but if you want to hear a preview of the lecture then please listen here

Dr Itzik Gottesman: The Life of the Yiddish Folksinger

Dr Itzik Gottesman was the associate editor of the Yiddish Forverts newspaper in New York for 14 years. He has a PhD in folklore from the University of Pennsylvania and is the author of the book “Defining the Yiddish Nation: The Jewish Folklorists of Poland”. He has taught Yiddish and Jewish folklore at the University of Texas and University of Pennsylvania and has recorded Yiddish folksingers in New York, Mexico and Israel. Jewish folklorists have collected hundreds of Yiddish songs but little information on the life of the folksinger who performed them and how the songs fit into the life of the performer. Playing rare field recordings, Dr. Gottesman will examine these issues and look at the Yiddish folksong collectors of pre-Holocaust Poland. To book your place for this lecture then please go here

Dates: Thu 6 Feb / Wed 19 Mar
Time: 7pm-830pm
Venue: SOAS Vernon Square
Price: FREE


Live at Union Chapel

A rare London appearance of the mighty Tcha Limberger and his group of Budapest musicians. Csardas, Verbunk and Laments from the Budapest ‘Magyar Nota’ Gypsy orchestra tradition of the 19th and early 20th centuries with the beautiful voice and playing of blind violinist Tcha Limberger and his incredible band! His Orchestra, in true Hungarian Gypsy Band style, are full of bursts of soaring intensity and smouldering pathos, that deliver a passion and technical virtuosity that is astounding. This event is sponsored by both the Hungarian Cultural Centre and JMI.

Date: Fri 28 Mar
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: Union Chapel
Price: £18/15




Kleznorth returns for 2014 to the village of Youlgreave in the Peak District with a great line-up of class and workshop leaders  across the board instrumentally, vocally and in dance. This year sees Christian Dawid return as Musical Director and he will be complimented by Rachel Weston who will lead on Yiddish song. The many workshops will be accompanied by talks, films, a Saturday night Tish and other windows into Yiddish culture. The full range of workshops and classes will be published on the Kleznorth website. This year we interviewed Phil Tomlinson and Christian Dawid to find out more about what is in store for 2014 and you can hear that interview here. Please be aware that the places are close to selling out, so do not delay if you intend to go and visit the Kleznorth website here 


Date: Fri 28 - Sun 30 Mar
Venue: Youlgreave, Derbyshire
Price: £60/27


OT AZOY 2014


Ot Azoy 2014 now on sale

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 Khayele Beer and her distinguished team of fellow Yiddishists, Sonia Pinkusowitz-Dratwa, Annick Prime-Margules, Lily Kahn and Barry Davis. Shura Lipovsky, Director of The Golden Peacock (Goldene Pave), will also teach a daily session of Yiddish through song. This year we are pleased to welcome new members to the faculty of Ot Azoy and will announce the exciting new additions to Goldene Pave in March's newsletter. With 2013's filling to capacity and attracting people from as diverse a set of countries as Canada, Sweden, Germany, Lithuania and Scotland, early booking is advised.


Date: Sun 10 - Fri 15 Aug
Time: 9am - 8pm 
Venue: SOAS, Vernon Sq.
Price: Various




"World class clarinettist with a magically lyrical phrasing" Jüdische Allgemeine

The Jewish Music Institute is proud to present the first in our Masterclass series with internationally renowned clarinettist Christian Dawid.
Trained classically, Christian Dawid has explored styles from chamber music to Jazz and Alpine Brass. He has performed with such artists as Frank London, Alan Bern, Brave Old World, Theodore Bikel, Lorin Sklamberg, and Shura Lipovsky. As a teacher, Christian Dawid has been invited to Yiddish music institutes and festivals all over the world, including Yiddish Summer Weimar, KlezKanada, KlezFest St Petersburg, KlezFest London, Klezmer Paris, KlezKamp and the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow. Christian was the KlezNorth Musical Director in 2012 and 2014. In this exclusive London Masterclass for JMI, Christian will explore the techniques, modality and ornamentation of playing Klezmer.


Date: Mon 31 Mar
Time: 5-7pm
Venue: SOAS, Russell Square
Price: £15/10


Julian Joseph at JW3

2nd Feb: Jazz at JW3 kicks off the 2014 season with one of the finest jazz pianists to emerge this side of the Atlantic. For over two decades Julian Joseph has been a towering figure in contemporary jazz - a prodigious composer and arranger and an admired and respected bandleader. He’s joined by long-time collaborators Mark Hodgson on Double Bass and Mark Mondesir on Drums. More details here

Don Giovanni (Juan) at JW3 
3rd Feb: In Juan, Mozart’s classical masterpiece Don Giovanni is retold as a story of the modern man’s escape from himself and his demons. Juan does that through countless seductions of the women he encounters, until he is inevitably driven to his own death. The film screening will be followed by a Q&A with Juan’s director, Kasper Holten (Director of Opera, The Royal Opera House) who will be joined by Norman Lebrecht. More details here.

Yiddish Twist Orchestra at Rich Mix 

7th Feb: Klezmer in the Park favourites Yiddish Twist Orchestra return to London with their signature fusion of Calypso, Mambo, Twist, Skiffle, Klezmer: a one-off collision of roots and cultures that spawned London’s first truly homegrown dance craze. "Der Schvitz". Yiddish Twist Orchestra, under the guidance of trumpeter Lemez Lovas, twist guitarist Ben Jamin and chef d'orchestre Robin Harris, pays homage to the genius of Willy Bergman (Natty Bo of Ska Cunbano). More details here

His People, Opera North at Howard Assembly Rooms

8th Feb: A rare opportunity to see one of the most evocative films of the 1920s with a new Klezmer inflected live soundtrack. New York’s bustling immigrant-Jewish Lower East Side has seldom been better captured than in this sparkling tale of a generational clash of cultures. The two sons of a Jewish migrant family opt for different paths in life and love.This classic morality tale with a bold, contemporary feel is accompanied by a live improvised soundtrack from JMI Artistic Director, violinist Sophie Solomon and her band. More details here

The London Jewish Male Choir at LJCC

9th Feb: The London Jewish Male Choir presents a diverse programme featuring cantorial music, musical theatre, Yiddish, Ladino and Israeli songs as well as specially commissioned new music. Featuring  guest storyteller Rachel Rose Reid, Cantor Steven Leas and conducted by Joseph Finlay this will be a culturally rich event. More details here

Avishai Cohen at Ronnie Scotts

10-14th Feb: Over the last two decades Israeli Bassist Avishai Cohen has earned his reputation as one of the world's greatest musicians. Now with his new trio he brings fresh compositions and arrangements to the stage of Ronnie Scotts for a four night residency. Accompanying him are two young talents from Israel; Nitai Hershkovits (Piano) and Daniel Dor (Drums). These four shows are part of a world tour in support of Avishai’s latest album ‘Almah’ and for more details on these concerts please see here.

Alyth Music Fair at North Western Reform Synagogue 

23rd Feb: All in one day, in one place, you get to choose no less than 30 different Jewish Music sessions. As well as it being and inter-disciplinary event with all its layers of learning, it also has a phenomenal amount of entertainment, sagely volumes of insight and if that wasn't enough, you even get a chance to perform. Some of the UK’s finest Jewish Musicians will inspire and teach a vast array of workshops. For more details please see here

Mosaic Voices at New West End Synagogue

23rd Feb: Celebrate the best in Jewish Music with seven outstanding cantors and London’s newest choir - Mosaic Voices at the New West End Synagogue. Under the Musical Direction of Michael Etherton, Cantors Adrian Alexander, Graeme Alexander, Eliot Alderman, Robert Brody, Moshe Fishel, Avromi Freilich and Geoffrey Shisler plus Mosaic Voices - the New West End Synagogue’s acclaimed ensemble of professional choristers. More details here



Our monthly radio show continues with Gil Karpas, who plays music and interviews from the world of Jewish music. February's show has a focus on Drawing Life with two interviews featuring Alto Melanie Pappenheim and Violinist Sophie Solomon. With Kleznorth forthcoming we celebrate their fifth year by interviewing Musical Director Christian Dawid and long time festival organiser Phil Tomlinson. The whole show and its component podcasts can be heard here