Hello and welcome to our May newsletter.

There¹s an excellent line-up of events to look forward to this month. If you¹re looking for something fantastic to do this weekend, I can highly recommend the Katsha'nes concert of East-End Cockney music-hall songs featuring Vivi Lachs and Meg Hamilton at the Old Church in Stoke Newington on Saturday night (May 2nd).

Meanwhile, our summer schools are selling fast. We are planning a public faculty concert for Golden Peacock and have added some exciting tutors to the Klezfest teaching staff so be sure to secure your place soon.

All best wishes

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Anotimpurile: The Four Seasons

JMI’s Anotimpurile programme for primary schools had its final performance at Weald Junior School where a record 90 children played the accordion and performed to parents and staff. In collaboration with the Harrow Music Hub, this programme is led by violinist Meg Hamilton, singer-songwriter and puppeteer Monica Madas and three additional guest musicians; Stelios Katsatsidis (Accordion), Simon Roth (Percussion), Paul Moylan (Double Bassist). It consists of ten music sessions culminating in a final performance representing the four seasons, each depicted through a story, song, dance or traditional tune from Eastern European, Romanian and Jewish folk traditions. Both the project and the final show are introduced through the eyes of hand-made Romanian marionettes.

Sue McCall, Head of the Harrow Music Hub said:

“The atmosphere of the concert was lifted by the performance but also by the superb musicianship of the double bass, accordion and percussion player and of course by Meg Hamilton’s magic violin and Monica Madas’ glorious singing voice which spellbound the audience and the children alike."

If you would like to read more about our educational programmes then visit here, or you can email Naama Zohar at the JMI office here

Yiddish 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 as the May 1st early bird discount is here. If you reply to this email within a week, we will reserve you the discount.

We interviewed Khayele, Sonia and Lily
 from the faculty about their love of the language and what they all look forward to in teaching Yiddish at Ot Azoy. To hear that feature and to book your place, please visit here


Language School:

Date: Sun 9 - 14 Aug
Time: 930am - 8pm
Venue: SOAS, Vernon Sq.
Price: £245-£130



Yiddish Song School

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 folk-bard Karsten Troyke, Alex Knapp, Rachel Weston and we are pleased to confirm that Lorin Sklamberg of Klezmatics/YIVO will be coming all the way from New York to teach on the faculty this year.

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.

We interviewed Shura Lipovsky, Karsten Troyke and Lorin Sklamberg from the faculty about their love of the music, the songs and the culture. To hear that feature and to book your place, please visit here


  Song School:

Date: Sun 9 - 14 Aug
Time: 930am - 8pm
Venue: SOAS, Vernon Sq.
Price: £245-£130


Learn Klezmer

We are very happy 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:

• Hands-on tutoring from world leading experts.
• 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 visit our website here 

  Klezmer School:

Date: 18 - 21 Aug
Time: 930am-10pm
Venue: SOAS, Vernon Sq.
Price: £165-£120


Yiddish Choir

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.

May 5th
May 19th
June 2nd
June 16th

Culminating in a performance & last session on June 30th
from 6.45–8.45pm

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

  Choir info:

Date: Twice monthly
Time: 645pm - 845pm
Venue: JW3, Finchley Rd
Price: £10 per session


The Festival

Klezmer In The Park returns again to Regents Park Bandstand and this year we have another brilliant musical line up for you to enjoy. Come on down for 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.

12.00pm: Highnotes Klezmer Band
12.30pm: JFS Klezmer Band
1pm: Don Kipper
2pm: Stewart Curtis’ K-Groove
3pm: The Turbans
4pm: She’Koyokh
5pm: Tantz

Visit our Kids Zone featuring workshop and activities run by Jewish community organisations. Klezmer in the Park features Judaica and Jewish music stalls. Enjoy Kosher Food, Klezmer on Stilts and much more.

  Festival info:

Date: Sun 6 Sep 
Time: 12-6pm
Venue: Regents Park
Price: Free



Katsha'nes: Cockney-Yiddish Music Hall is coming to Hackney!

Katsha'nes are a new band, performing gems of the London Yiddish music-hall stage. As the East End immigrant Jews became upwardly mobile, they moved north to Dalston, Clapton, Stoke Newington and Stamford Hill and they took the East End Cockney-Yiddish music-hall songs with them. Join them as they return to the east end for songs and sketches that will make you laugh, cry and heckle. No Yiddish or Cockney language skills required. More details about the band can be found here

  Concert info:

Date: Sat 2 May 
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: The Old Church, N16 9ES
Price: £12-8


Radio and The Roundhouse

Polina will feature on "Vocal Chords - an Odyssey of the Voice with Iarla Ó'Lionáird (The Gloaming)" A program exploring the global story of the human voice which will feature interviews with Polina Shepherd and others. This series will air on RTÉ lyric fm on Fridays at 7pm. The series starts May 1st for 5 weeks. Hear Yiddish singer Polina Shepherd in Episodes 1 and 2. Hear live here or catch up online here
Polina Shepherd's London Yiddish Choir will perform for the Voices Now Festival at the Roundhouse London on the 10 May. For more details on that festival of choirs and song please visit here

  Polina info: 

Date: 1, 8 & 10 May
Time: Various
Venue: Roundhouse Camden


Guy Schalom 

The Baladi Blues Ensemble plays the urban Egyptian dance music known as Baladi. Their music reflects the sophisticated and fast-paced, urban lifestyle of 1950’s Cairo - all offered with a charming and enigmatic stage presence. Soulful accordion and saxophone improvisations, energised by powerful Afro-Egyptian percussion give the Baladi Blues Ensemble its distinctive sound. 

Leading the group is the charismatic percussionist, dancer and record producer Guy Schalom, described as "one of the most interesting and versatile percussionists working in the UK today" (fROOTS).

In the Baladi Blues Ensemble, Guy unites some of Egypt's most celebrated master musicians: quarter-tone accordionist Gamal el Kordi, legendary Nubian saxophonist Ahmed El Saidi and master percussionist Aly el Minyawi. We interviewed Guy Schalom for a feature on the 2013 Songlines Encounters Festival where he spoke about the music and the legacy of Laure Daccache. You can listen to that feature here

  Concert info:

Date: Sun 10 May 
Time: 3.45pm
Venue: Lost Theatre,SW8 2JU
Price: £20-16


"Hamsa! Hamsa! Hamsa!"

Hamsa unites the music of Jewish Eastern Europe, Greece and Turkey in a Mediterranean melange, taking us on a journey that crosses borders while also transporting us deep into ourselves. This super-group brings elements of Klezmer, Fasil and Demotika to its original compositions - fusing grooves of both the shtetl and the shuk. Hamsa entices and seduces with both a technical and creative flare whilst respecting the heritage of its music. We interviewed the band and these podcasts and their music can be heard here and also more recently here

  Concert info: 

Date: Sun 10 May
Time: 8pm
Venue: Rich Mix, E1 6LA
Price: £10-8


Bernstein's Chichester Psalms

Alyth Choral Society occupies a unique position in the Jewish musical scene, being the only Jewish choir that gives its members the opportunity to perform the great oratorios, many of which are based in biblical tradition, and other standard works. The choir also enjoys performing Jewish music, art song, works by prominent British composers and works from stage and screen. The Chichester Psalms was Bernstein's first composition after his 1963 Third Symphony (Kaddish). It is one of Bernstein's two most overtly Jewish works. The Chichester Psalms is affirmative and at times serene, the chorus will be sung in Hebrew. The Choir will be accompanied by organ, harp and percussion. The programme will also feature Aesops Fables by Bob Chilcott with Kevin Osterley (Conductor) and Kelvin Thomson (Organ/Piano). We interview ACS's composer in residence, Julian Dawes and that feature can be heard here

  Concert info: 

Date: Sun 17 May
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: Alyth, NW11 7EN 
Price: £12.50


UK Premiere: Pavel Haas

A unique concert organised by pianist and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama professor Lada Valešová, this concert aims to celebrate the music and life of the Czech composer Pavel Haas who died in Auschwitz. The evening will be a UK premiere of Haas’s youthful chamber music piece Fata Morgana, a composition inspired by the love poems of Rabindranath Tagore. The programme also includes Haas’s seminal song cycles: the "Four Songs on Chinese Poetry", which he composed in Terezín, as well as earlier song cycles characterised by their connections to the Moravian folk melodies and jazzy rhythms, as well as composer’s early interest in Chinese poetry, to which he returned at the final chapter of his life. Performed by an outstanding and hugely talented cast of musicians under the artistic direction of Lada Valešov. Tickets are free but as demand is high, booking is essential.

  Concert info:

Date: Tue 26 May
Time: 730pm
Venue: Barbican Milton Court
Price: Free


Practice, Play, Perform: Klezmer!

SOAS Klezmer Band is open to SOAS Students who are interested in learning and performing Klezmer music. It is a creative meeting point which enables musicians to learn more about this beautiful music through weekly sessions, masterclasses with visiting professional Klezmer musicians and concerts throughout the year.

From this society, Yoshke and The Wolves has formed and their gigs this month can be enjoyed in the following places.

2nd May
Passing Clouds, Dalston £10 after 10pm

3rd May
The George Tavern, Shadwell, free entry (suggested donation £5)
Details here

21st May - The Magic Garden, Battersea 
Free before 8pm. £5 after.
Details here

22nd May
The Fox and Firkin, Lewisham

Yoshke and the Wolves Facebook page can be found here

We interviewed Isis and Josh from the new generation of players in the SOAS Klezmer band and also Francesca Ter-Berg of the original line up of the SOAS Klezmer Ensemble and that feature can be heard here

  Klezmer info: 

Date: Thurs evenings
Time: 5pm-7pm
Venue: SOAS Music rooms.


Magnified and Sanctified

For the first time in Britain an International Academic Conference is being
devoted to the music of Jewish prayer. Internationally acclaimed scholars
in Jewish liturgical music will lead the programme presented jointly by the
School of Music, University of Leeds and the Academic Wing of the European Cantors Association.The conference is organised in association with the international research project "Performing the Jewish Archive" funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

  Conference info:

Date: Tue 16 - Fri 19 June
Venue: University of Leeds
Price: £160-85


The Continuum Ensemble

Music in 1920s Berlin and Vienna: cool, sleek, jazzy and very modern. A generation of young composers swept away the 19th century and established a new kind of music that was bold, astringent, accessible and topical. But by 1934, denounced by the Nazi government and their music banned, they were swept away into exile leaving their work neglected and forgotten for over seventy-five years. Ripe for rediscovery, the exciting opera, chamber, orchestral and vocal music of Ernst Toch, Kurt Weill, Erwin Schulhoff, Mischa Spoliansky, Friedrich Hollander and others of this lost generation is performed in a festival of five concerts over three days, much of it never before performed in the U.K. These feature outstanding singers and soloists as well as informative pre-concert talks with leading experts and a reading of German poetry and literature from the 1920s. All concerts and events take place at King’s Place, London, N1.

  Weekend info: 

Date: Fri 19 - Sun 21 June
Venue: Kings Place, N1 London
Price: Various


Songs of Celebration 

Shirei Chagigah is the new name for the Movement for Reform Judaism’s biennial music conference. It means ‘songs of celebration’ and reflects the celebration of music and prayer which we will enjoy over this very special weekend. USA faculty confirmed:  Merri Arian, Noah Aronson, Rabbi Noam Katz and Cantor Benjie-Ellen Schiller. UK faculty confirmed: Viv Bellos, Cantor Zöe Jacobs, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner,  Rabbi Josh Levy, Kath Vardi, Cantor Cheryl Wunch and Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers. Gain the tools and experiences to learn about and enjoy Jewish music and t’fillah (prayer). A unique opportunity to learn from the world’s foremost experts in the field of Jewish liturgical music. Through a series of workshops and services you will explore the use of music to enhance religious services, learn new melodies and choral harmonies for traditional prayers and be part of a remarkable community. Look forward to our podcast and event page next month!

  Conference info:

Date: Wed 8 - Sun 12 July
Venue: Alyth, NW11 7EN
Price: Various 


Brodsky Quartet
The complete Zemlinksy string quartets
Saturday 2nd May
Kings Place
Details here and here

Ljova & CLS
Music, discussion and performance from Ljova Zhurbin and City of London Sinfonia for Dash Arts Family Affair.
You can hear Ljova in interview about this project and tour here
Wednesday 6th May
Rich Mix
Details here

Bester Quartet 
Lag B'Omer sees the latest incarnation of the legendary Cracow Klezmer Band arrive to light the fires.
Wednesday 6th May
JW3, London.
Details here

Kairos 4tet
Adam Waldman leads this MOBO award winning band.
Saturday 9th May
Kings Place
Details here 

The UK's very own Klezmer, Balkan and Gypsy titans return to play Cambridge.
Saturday 9th May
Stapleford Grange
Details here

Shmuel Ashkenasi
Masterclass with the world famous Israeli classical violinist.
Sunday 10th May
Kings Place
Details here

Buttering Trio
Israeli band formed of Balkan Beat Box Bassist and Raw Tapes label from Tel Aviv fly in for their only London show.
Tuesday 12th May
Jazz Cafe, Camden
Details here

The Destroyers
Balkan and Klezmer with this large band of fun.
Friday 15th May
Wiltons Music Hall
Details here
(also at the Band on the Wall in Manchester on May 28th details here)

Theatre of the Wandering West
A mulit-arts night exploring Kafka, the Yiddish film The Dybbuk, Yiddish songs, Klezmer and featuring Francesca Ter-Berg on Cello.
Friday 15th May
Rich Mix
Details here

Hard Times Kapelye 
Manchester Community Choir will perform with special guests Hard Times Kapelye.
Friday 15th May
Details here

Evening with Mark Ronson (pictured)
Westminster Young Professionals present an evening with Mark Ronson at Westminster Synagogue.
Tuesday 19th May
Kent House
Details here

Don Kipper
Klezmer, Jazz and Fasil fusions with forthcoming Klezmer in the Park 2015 band.
Wednesday 20th May
Details here
(Also appearing in Bristol on May 9th: more details here)

London Klezmer Quartet
After a sold out concert at SOAS, LKQ return to the south coast to play Eastbourne.
Wednesday 20th May
The Lamb Folk Club
Eastbourne, Sussex 
Details here

Leeds based Klezmer band and Klezmer in the Park favorites head north to Scotland.
Thursday 21st May
Details here


Ot Azoy and The Golden Peacock

This month JMI Radio immerses itself in Yiddish, with two features previewing the Yiddish, Language, Song and Culture summer schools. We interview Ot Azoy faculty members, Helen Beer, Sonia Pinkusowitz-Dratwa and Lily Khan about their love of the language and culture and why they and so many students return each year to take part in the summer school. That feature can be heard here.

As well as the language faculty, we interviewed The Golden Peacock song school faculty. Shura Lipovsky, Karsten Troyke and Lorin Sklamberg tell us about their love of Yiddish song and what students can look forward to learning, discovering and singing this August. You can listen to that feature here.

All of our podcasts and radio shows dating back to 2012 can be heard at our radio page here 

Previous guests have included Frank London, Yasmin Levy, Yair Dalal, Raphael Wallfisch, Natalie Clein, Avishai Cohen, Balkan Beat Box, Oi Va Voi, Merlin Shepherd, Shye Ben Tzur, Tcha Limberger and many more...