Aaron Alexander, drums, is a veteran klezmer and jazz drummer who plays with many of the leaders in the field, and also leads his own groups. He has released 4 recordings as a leader, including the recent CD “The Klez Messengers”, several more as member of collective groups, and appears on dozens of recordings as a sideman. Alexander is founder and director of the New York Klezmer Series, which has been presenting concerts, workshops, dance parties and jam sessions on a weekly basis in NYC for the past 6 years.
Moroccan born Aaron Bensoussan studied the art of Sephardic Liturgical music with his father and master musicians in Morocco. Part of a Moroccan rabbinic dynasty, his grandfather Rabbi Haim David Bensoussan was the chief Rabbi of Morocco and his great grandfather was one of the most revered rabbis to emerge from the city of Fez. According to the encyclopedia Judaica, the Bensoussan family traces back to Rabbi YehudaBensoussan a teacher of Maimonides. His interest in Ashkenazic music and cantorial music began when he went to New York at the age of 14 to study in Yeshiva……. A graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, he also studied at Yeshiva University Belz School of Music and Queens College. He was fortunate to study with master Hazzanim in both the Ashkenazic and Sephardic traditions; Moshe Ganchoff , Z’l, David Koussevitzky z’l, Noach Schall, Daniel Gildar, Sammy Amzallag, Z’l and Avraham Ben Haim. He has performed in concerts and festivals all over the world, including the Jerusalem Theatre in Jerusalem, The Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv and Carnegie Hall in New York City. One of his most satisfying creative endeavors has been composing music combining Ashkenazic and Sephardic elements with a tapestry of Middle Eastern Rhythms, Jazz, Flamenco and pop grooves masterfully woven together. He believes that one can enjoy a nice schmaltz herring with a spicy cous cous! His newly released CD “A New Journey” encompasses these elements and is receiving rave reviews. His famous composition of L’cha Dodi, included on the Puntamaya World Music Series “A Jewish Odyssey”, has been sung in synagogues all over the world and countless Cantors and singer have requested permission to record his compositions on their albums. With many cantorial and pop recordings to his credit,Aaron’s repertoire includes his original compositions and Judeo Moroccan classics. The New York Times calling his singing “stout and impassioned”. Aaron Bensoussan has served large and prestigious congregations as Hazzan for 25 years in New York and Toronto and now views the whole world as his bima.
Adeena Karasick is a New York based, Canadian poet, performer, cultural theorist and media artist and the author of seven books of poetry and poetics. Her Kabbalistically inflected, urban, Jewish, feminist mashups have been described as “electricity in language” (Nicole Brossard), “proto-ecstatic jet-propulsive word torsion” (George Quasha), noted for their “cross-fertilization of punning and knowing, theatre and theory” (Charles Bernstein) “a twined virtuosity of mind and ear which leaves the reader deliciously lost in Karasick’s signature ‘syllabic labyrinth’” (Craig Dworkin). Most recently is Salome: Woman of Valor (University of Padova Press, 2017), the libretto of the opera she has created with Frank London. She teaches Literature and Critical Theory for the Humanities and Media Studies Dept. at Pratt Institute, is co-founding director of the KlezKanada Poetry Festival and Retreat, and 2016 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Award recipient and winner of the 2016 Voce Donna Italia award for her contributions to feminist thinking. The “Adeena Karasick Archive” has just been established at Special Collections, Simon Fraser University.
Adrian Banner was born in Sydney, Australia, where his passion for the piano began in early childhood. He emigrated to the USA where he co-founded The Klez Dispensers, received his Ph.D. in mathematics from Princeton University, and published a book on calculus. Adrian is a performer, composer, bandleader, and arranger in a wide variety of musical styles including klezmer, Yiddish theatre/song, classical, jazz, ska, ragtime, and liturgical music.
Alan Bern is the founding artistic director of Yiddish Summer Weimar and the OMA Improvisation Project (formerly Winter Edition), founding director of the Other Music Academy (OMA), and co-founder and chair of other music e.V. He is a composer/arranger, pianist, accordionist, educator, cultural activist and philosopher. He is co-founder and director of Brave Old World, founder and director of The Other Europeans, Diaspora Redux and the Semer Ensemble, and he also performs with Bern, Brody & Rodach and with Guy Klucevsek. His education included classical piano with Paul Badura-Skoda and Leonard Shure, jazz with Karl Berger, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Anthony Braxton and others, contemporary music with John Cage, Frederic Rzewski, Joel Hoffman and others, and philosophy and cognitive science with Dan Dennett. He received his master’s degree in Philosophy and his doctorate degree in music composition. He has composed and director music for theater and dance in New York, Montreal, Berlin, Lucerne, Essen and Bremen, among others. He is the creator of Present-Time Composition©, an innovative approach to music improvisation informed by insights from cognitive science. In 2009, he was given the Ruth Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as a musician and educator.
Alti Rodal is a historian, writer, former professor of Jewish history, and advisor to the Government of Canada. She is currently the Co-Director of the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter Initiative. Born in Chernivtsi (Czernowitz) in western Ukraine, she received her early schooling in Israel, and was educated at McGill, Oxford and Hebrew universities in the fields of history, religion and literature. Her professional experience includes eight years of full-time teaching on aspects of medieval and modern Jewish history at universities in Montreal and Ottawa, and twenty-five years of senior advisory and management experience in government in Canada, including as Director of Research for the Commission of Inquiry on Nazi War Criminals in Canada. She is the author of numerous studies and reports for government, as well as on aspects of multiculturalism, intercommunal relations, and genealogical research. She has served on the National Executive Committee of Canadian Jewish Congress as Chairperson of CJC Archives, Vice-President of B’nai B’rith Canada, and Chairperson of the Ottawa Project against Hate and Racial Discrimination (a volunteer-driven, collaborative project involving the City of Ottawa, St. Paul University, the Ottawa Police Service, Ottawa school-boards, academics and experts, and a wide range of community and faith leaders).
Avi Fox-Rosen is a singer, songwriter, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer and producer living in Brooklyn, NY. Avi is in the midst of a marathon project for 2013, releasing a self produced EP of new music on the first of each month. This has been noted as “a titanic enterprise” by New York Music Daily. Visit avifoxrosen.com to peruse his releases.
Avi has released 3 previous full length albums, including 2009’s “Welcome to the Show” which was nominated as an Independent Music Awards Eclectic Album of the Year. Lucid Culture wrote of the album “It’s funky, carnivalesque and mystifyingly multistylistic – if there’s a genre this guy can’t write in, it isn’t apparent here… With a noir undercurrent matched by vividly aphoristic black humor, guitarist Fox-Rosen sings with a cool, suave, deviously jazzy vocal delivery that’s well-suited to the lyrics – think Donald Fagen’s equally gifted, more ill-at-ease bastard stepchild.”
Avi is a co-leader of Yiddish Princess, the world’s favorite Yiddish rock band. Yiddish Princess has toured internationally and nationally, and will play The Krakow Music Festival’s Finale this summer for an audience of 20,000+. Yiddish Princess was featured on Central Park’s Summerstage in 2012, and the Ashkenaz Festival in 2010.
Avi is former Music Director of The Aftselokhis Spectacle Committee, which creates radical theatrical events in New York. Noteworthy events include the annual JFREJ Purim Shpil, a Purim happening involving massive puppets, political theater, community engagement, and attendance of 700+ to a radical ritualized Jewish space.
Avi is a member of .357 Lover, an amazing rock band fronted by Corn Mo that has played just about every club in New York City.
Avi has recorded and/or shared the stage with Benjy Fox-Rosen’s Two Worlds, Basya Schechter and Pharaoh’s Daughter, Adrienne Cooper, Daniel Kahn and the Painted Bird, Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All Stars, Michael Winograd, The Folksbiene Yiddish Theater, Josh Dolgin aka Socalled, Matt Darriau, Jenny Romaine and Great Small Works, Rima Fand and Erin Orr, Sarah Alden, Sxip Shirey, Jason Rosenblatt and Shtreiml, Matt Temkin’s Yiddishe Jam Band!, Aaron Alexander’s Midrash Mish Mosh, Susan Leviton, and many more wonderful creators in many different contexts.
When not performing, recording, and writing, Avi teaches private students, and runs a project recording studio. Avi was founding Music Director of Kehilat Romemu, New York’s only Jewish Renewal Synagogue, from 2005 – 2009. He still works as an accompanist in several synagogues.
Benjy Fox-Rosen is a singer, bassist and composer creating new Jewish music. Ranging from re-imaginings of Yiddish art songs to original settings of the poetry of Krakow’s Mordechai Gebirtig, Fox-Rosen’s music has received critical acclaim from around the globe. Hailed by The Forward as “one of the rising stars in the Yiddish music scene” Fox-Rosen performs with many of the living legends of the so-called Klezmer Revival.
Fox-Rosen is the recipient of a Fulbright research grant for 2012-2013 and is currently living in Chisinau, Moldova where he is immersing himself in the shared musical languages of Yiddish and Moldovan music.
Fox-Rosen has performed at Celebrate Brooklyn (USA), the Chicago World Music Festival (USA), the Speigeltent at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (UK), KlezMORE Festival (AU), as well as venues throughout the Americas and Europe. He has taught workshops at Klezkamp, Klezkanada, The New England Conservatory, Krakow’s famed Jewish Festival, The Vilnius Yiddish Institute and many other festivals.
In 2012 Fox-Rosen was the recipient of a New York State Council for the Arts ‘Folk Apprenticeship’ grant to study with master Yiddish singer/composer Joshua Waletsky.
Bernice Eisenstein is the author of the award-winning graphic memoir I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors, which was adapted into a short animated film. Her drawings are featured in the touring exhibition Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women. Eisenstein’s forthcoming book Correspondences, with the writer Anne Michaels, will be published in fall 2013 by McClelland and Stewart. She lives in Toronto.
Cantor Jeff Warschauer is internationally renowned as a leading klezmer mandolinist, as an innovator in the development of a klezmer guitar style, as an expressive Yiddish singer, and as a skillful and inspirational educator. One half of the Strauss/Warschauer Duo, Jeff was a long-time member of the Klezmer Conservatory Band. He is on the faculty of Columbia University, and is a Founding Artistic Director and Senior Artistic Advisor of KlezKanada. A graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary and the New England Conservatory, Jeff is Cantor at Congregation Keneseth Israel in Allentown, PA, and has served congregations in NY, CT, OH, ME and VT. Jeff speaks Yiddish, and has researched and collected Yiddish and Hebrew songs and instrumental melodies since the mid-1980s. Jeff has studied Jewish culture, languages, and religion in the US, the UK and in Israel, and has received numerous prizes, including the KlezKanada Distinguished Service Award.
Christian Dawid has been teaching at KlezKanada since 2003. Considered one of today’s finest klezmer clarinetists, he has performed extensively across Europe and North America, with such artists as Konsonans Retro, Arkady Gendler, Frank London, Brave Old World, The Other Europeans, Alan Bern, Theodore Bikel, Socalled, Budowitz, Shura Lipovsky, Paul Brody’s Sadawi and many more.
As a teacher, he is also associated with Yiddish Summer Weimar and has taught at other international workshop academies, in London, Paris, New York, St. Petersburg, Safed, Cracow, Fürth, Buenos Aires, and other places.
Recently, he has been performing with his own Trio Yas, as well as with Daniel Kahn & The Painted Bird, Shtetl Band Amsterdam, and Andrea Pancur’s Alpenklezmer. He lives in Berlin, where he sometimes is caught doubling on saxophone, trombone, and tuba.
Christina started playing Jewish music in Budapest, Hungary, where she lived from 1993 to 2002. She is a founding member of Di Naye Kapelye – an ensemble dedicated to researching and performing traditional eastern European Jewish music. The group did original research in Hungary and Romania and in the 8 years Christina performed with the ensemble, Di Naye Kapelye toured extensively in Europe and performed at numerous festivals including the Jewish Music Festival in Krakow, Poland, the Festival d’Ete in Nantes, France and many others.
From 1999 to 2001 Christina and her husband John DeMetrick pursued Fulbright grants in Romania, working with elderly violinists who had played music for Jewish communities before the Second World War. The pair made field recordings of those musicians and also pursued archival and library sources for Jewish material and an understanding of the local influences on Jewish musical styles. Christina continues this research with a project to document connections between Jewish, Bessarabian and Greek music through NYU Abu Dhabi. Christina currently lives in New Haven, Connecticut, where she works with local klezmer musicians and students. She also performs with the Alexander Fiterstein Trio, the Wholesale Klezmer Band, and the New Haven Chamber Klezmer Quartet. She has been a guest instructor in klezmer accordion and ensemble performance in Paris, Albuquerque, and Asheville, and performs regularly with the renowned klezmorim Margot Leverett, Alicia Svigals, and Walter Zev Feldman.
Cookie Segelstein received her Masters degree in Viola from The Yale School of Music in 1984. She is the founder and director of Veretski Pass, a founding member of The Youngers of Zion with Henry Sapoznik, and plays in Budowitz. She has also performed with many famous and many obscure musicians. She presents lecture demonstrations and workshops on klezmer fiddling all over the world, including Living Tradition’s Klezkamp, KlezCalifornia, KlezKanada, American Festival of Fiddle Tunes,Yale University, University of Wisconsin in Madison, and other places where smarties congregate. Her favorite hobby is photographing wildlife in places that there is no cellphone service. Cookie lives in Berkeley, California with her husband Josh Horowitz, two cats, a dog and her occasionally visiting adult children.
Called “a virtuosic technician with abundant creativity” by All About Jazz New York, Dan Blacksberg has become a major voice carving out new paths in both Jewish and experimental music. Primarily through his trombone playing, but also as a composer, educator, concert organizer, and sometimes record producer, Dan has excited audiences and empowered musicians in his hometown of Philadelphia, and around the world. From performing and recording with traditional klezmer musicians like Elaine Hoffman Watts and Adrienne Cooper, to experimentalists George Lewis and Anthony Braxton, to performing with his own groups Electric Simcha and Deveykus (the worlds only hardcore simcha band and Hasidic doom-metal band respectively), his work spans from the traditional to the avant-garde and radical spaces in between.
David Kaufman is a Toronto-based photographer and filmmaker. His photographic work focuses on architecture and the urban landscape. He has been creating photographs of Jewish historic sites in Poland since 2007. His recent photography exhibition of Toronto’s heritage streetscapes was named a must-see show of the CONTACT Festival by Toronto Life, NOW Magazine and Xtra! Kaufman is also a documentary filmmaker whose films have screened around the world. His most recent film work is Song of the Lodz Ghetto, a history and concert film, featuring Brave Old World, about the Lodz Ghetto and its street singer, Yankele Herszkowicz. Kaufman has been the official photographer for KlezKanada and Ashkenaz. In 2000 he released the film The New Klezmorim, a comprehensive account of the Klezmer revival videotaped at KlezKanada..
Deborah Strauss is an internationally-acclaimed klezmer violinist and educator who has been active in klezmer and Yiddish music and in multigenerational Jewish education for over 30 years. She is a member of the Strauss/Warschauer Duo, the intercontinental groups Voices of Ashkenaz and Figelin, and was a long-time member of the Klezmer Conservatory Band. Deborah was featured in the Emmy award-winning film “Itzhak Perlman: In the Fiddler’s House”, appears in the film “Theodore Bikel: In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem”, and has performed with the Grammy Award-winning Klezmatics. She performs across North America, South America, Western and Eastern Europe, and Israel, and leads workshops and classes annually at the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, Yiddish Summer Weimar, Yiddish New York, and KlezKanada. Deborah is also a highly-regarded Yiddish dance leader and an award-winning Jewish children’s educator. She studied violin at Rutgers University and ethnomusicology at the University of Chicago.
Eleanor Reissa is a woman of many talents – in English and Yiddish. Most recently she directed and choreographed THE THREEPENNY OPERA at Colgate University. Before that she had just returned from Israel where she directed and choreographed Mike Burstyn in HERSHELE OSTROPOLYER, which she also adapted. HERSHELE was nominated for the Israeli Theatre Prize, a first for a Yiddish show. On Broadway she garnered a Tony Nomination for direction of the musical THOSE WERE THE DAYS, which she also choreographed and starred in. From 1998 -2004 she was Artistic Director of the Folksbiene Theatre. Her off-Broadway direction includes: COWGIRLS (Outer Critics nomination); ECHOES OF THE WAR with Frances Sternhagen – Mint Theater (directed five plays, including SOLDIER’S WIFE – Drama Desk nomination). As an actor she has performed often on Broadway and off, including the title role in YENTL. As a playwright: THE LAST SURVIVOR premiered in Northlight Theatre in Chicago. She was the winner of the Dorothy Silver Prize for her play WISHFUL THINKING and a finalist for Heideman Award at Actors Theatre of Louisville. On film she appeared in TROPHY KIDS; CALLING IT QUITS; and A STRANGER AMONG US, directed by Sidney Lumet. She has performed her one woman show ELEANOR REISSA SINGS ENGLISH – Metropolitan Room; HIP HEYMISH AND HOT in NYC/national tour. She has acted, directed, and sung all over the world. Eleanor is the daughter of holocaust survivors.
Emily Socolov, PhD, is a folklorist, visual artist, and activist with a deep interest in life history, cultural imaginaries, and social justice. She was founding Executive Director of Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders, a non-profit arts and culture organization serving the Mexican immigrant community in New York. She is a frequent collaborator with the Smithsonian Institution’s Division of Folklife and Cultural Heritage’s annual festival. As a visual artist, she works with found and repurposed objects, creating installations of social relevance. Socolov created the visual arts program at KlezKanada in 2003 and has taught workshop in Amulets, Toy Theater (with Jenny Romaine and Tine Kindermann), The Culture of Childhood in Eastern Europe (with Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett), among other courses. She is currently Visiting Scholar at the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies at UT-Austin where she is working on a book on the Red Scare in 1950’s America.
Toronto’s Eric Stein is a multi-instrumental musician (mandolin, bass, cimbalom) and a leading figure in Canada’s World, Folk and Jewish-roots music scenes. He is founder/leader of the innovative Klezmer/Balkan fusion group Beyond the Pale, with whom he has performed across North America, Europe, Australia and Brazil, and released four award-winning albums. Eric also leads the Brazilian choro ensemble Tio Chorinho, is a member of the Ger Mandolin Orchestra, and has performed with a number of other leading artists, including Socalled, Theodore Bikel, Flory Jagoda, Mike Marshall, and various Canadian chamber groups and symphonies. Eric is Artistic Director of Toronto’s Ashkenaz Festival, one of the world’s largest celebrations of Jewish music and culture.
Ethel Raim is the Artistic Director of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance (CTMD) and is widely recognized for her expertise in both Yiddish and Balkan vocal traditions. She has had a long-standing career as a performer, workshop leader/singing teacher and recording artist (Elektra/Nonesuch). In the early 60s, Ms. Raim founded, directed, and sang with the Pennywhistlers – the influential a cappella women’s vocal group whose recordings of traditional Yiddish, Russian and Balkan music were instrumental in seeding a number of women’s vocal ensembles across America. She pioneered the teaching of Balkan singing in the US in the late 60s/early 70s, and has taught nationally and internationally ever since. Since 2010, Raim has specialized in teaching traditional unaccompanied Yiddish singing, and has conducted annual advanced singing workshops at Yiddish Summer Weimar. She has also taught Yiddish singing workshops in Melbourne, Australia. She is internationally acclaimed as a master teacher and an expert on the vocal traditions in which she specializes.
Eugene Orenstein recently retired after a 39-year academic career in the Department of Jewish Studies at McGill University where he specialized in the area of modern Jewish social and intellectual history, with particular emphasis on the Jewish labor and socialist movement in Eastern Europe and North America and the development of modern Yiddish culture. His publications include the chapter on Yiddish culture in Canada in The Canadian Jewish Mosaic (1981); numerous bio-bibliographical studies in Der leksikon fun der nayer yidisher literatur (“Biographical Dictionary of Modern Yiddish Literature”); articles in Encyclopedia of World Literature in the Twentieth Century, the biography of Herman Kruk and the analysis of his “Diary of the Vilna Ghetto,” in the Reference Guide to Holocaust Literature (The St. James Press, 2002), and the article on “Yiddish Dailies [in Canada] in History of the Book in Canada, Vol. II (University of Toronto Press, 2005). Orenstein served as an editorial consultant for the new YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe, published by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and Yale University Press, 2008. He has also been Guest Professor of Yiddish Language and Literature at the Uriel Weinreich Summer Program in Yiddish Studies; the Summer Program in Yiddish Studies at the Postgraduate Centre for Hebrew Studies, Oxford University; at University College, London; the Centre for the Study of Jewish Civilization, Monash University in Melbourne, Australia and at the International Yiddish Summer Program, Tel Aviv University.
Evelyn Tauben is an independent curator, artistic producer and writer based in Toronto and originally from Montreal. For nearly a decade, she has produced a range of multi-disciplinary performances and arts happenings ranging from literary events, theatre, screenings, cultural conversations, and major world music concerts featuring internationally acclaimed musicians. With an MA in Art History from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University, she has worked at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the National Museum of American History. She was the first Head of Programs and Exhibitions at Toronto’s Koffler Centre of the Arts, Canada’s only multi-disciplinary Jewish arts and culture centre. Previously, she founded Youngish & Yiddish in Philadelphia. Evelyn was a participant in the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture’s 2012 International Nahum Goldmann Fellowship in Warsaw. Her essay on expressions of Jewish identity within the work of women artists and graphic novels is forthcoming in the book, Graphic Details (McFarland, 2014).
Sir Frank London is a Grammy Award-winning trumpeter and composer, a founder of the Klezmatics, leader of the Astro-Hungarian supergroup Glass House Orchestra, the Shekhinah Big Band, his Klezmer Brass Allstars, and co-leader of bhangra/Yiddish group Sharabi (with Deep Singh), Ahava Raba (with Cantor Yanky Lemmer and Michael Winograd), and Vilde Mekhaye (with Eleanor Reissa and Frank’s Klezmer Brass Allstars). He’s been called the “mystical high priest of New Wave Avant-Klez jazz” by writer Elliott Simon for the website All About Jazz.
His large-scale works include the Cuban-Yiddish opera Hatuey Memory of Fire (with Elise Thoron, premiered 2017 in Havana, Cuba), the film museum installation Letters from Afar (with filmmaker Peter Forgacs and the Klezmatics, premiered at the POLIN Museum in Warsaw), the folk-opera A Night In The Old Marketplace (with Alex Aron and Glen Berger, based on Y.L. Peretz’s 1907 play), and the multi-media dance/poetry/video “spoken word opera” Salomé: Woman of Valor (with Adeena Karasick).
Jake Marmer is a poet and performer. His first record, “Hermeneutic Stomp” (Blue Thread Music, 2013) has featured jazz-klez luminaries Frank London, Greg Wall, Eyal Maoz, and Uri Sharlin, and brought together diverse poetic traditions, jazz, klezmer, new and ancient improvisation techniques. It was hailed as a “soulful narrative line in counterpoint to… language-drunk abstractions” (The Jewish Week), “experience of mystic pleasures… freshly contemporary” (Shofar), and a “thought provoking debut” (All About Jazz). His poetry collection, “Jazz Talmud” was published by Sheep Meadow Press in 2012. Currently a doctoral candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center, he lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two children. He frequently contributes to the Forward and Tablet Magazine, and has recently co-hosted North America’s first Jewish Poetry retreat at the KlezKanada Festival. For more information, see jakemarmer.wordpress.com.
Janie Respitz has an M.A. in Yiddish language and literature. For the past twenty five years she has performed in concerts throughout the world and taught courses relating to Yiddish language, folklore, literature, and Eastern European Jewish history. Having taught at Queen’s University, Janie is now teaching at McGill University. As a singer of Yiddish songs, she often incorporates her singing into her courses and lectures, sharing her lifelong passion with her students and audiences. Janie has delighted audiences with her vast repertoire of Yiddish songs and lecture topics in Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Windsor, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Amherst Yiddish Book Centre, New York, Montevideo, and Israel.
Composer, producer, pianist, and harmonica player Jason Rosenblatt is one of the world’s foremost innovators in diatonic harmonica technique. His performance on the unassuming instrument has helped to break new musical ground for the instrument long associated with “the blues,” into art forms as diverse as jazz, bluegrass, klezmer, and Turkish music. Since 2002 he and his group Shtreiml, a high-octane purveyor of original Turkish and Eastern European music, have released four albums and performed internationally.
Jenny Romaine is a director, designer, performer, and puppeteer, and a founding member of Great Small Works artists’ collective. She is music director of Jennifer Miller’s OBIE and Bessie Award-winning CIRCUS AMOK and artist in residence at Milk Not Jails. Romaine was a sound archivist at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research for thirteen years, and for several decades has drawn on Yiddish primary source materials to create art that has contemporary meaning. Her projects include the Sukkos Mob, and community Purim Shpiln with the Aftselakhis Spectacle Committee. Romaine founded the Youth Theater Workshop at KlezKamp and her productions at KlezKanada from 2010 to 2017 have included the Backwards March, the Haunted Suke, Truth in Gay Clothes: the Musar Musical, Ellstein on the Beach, and Nekhame Epshteyn: Chicken Park. In 2016, Romaine directed “Bobe Mayses: Yiddish Knights and Other Impossibilities” with author Michael Wex and Music Director Alan Bern. Romaine was the first recipient of the Adrienne Cooper Award for Dreaming in Yiddish in 2014 and was recently featured in Ezra Nepon’s book “Dazzle Camouflage: Spectacular Theatrical Strategies for Resistance and Resilience.”
Joanne is a New York based actor and singer whose Broadway credits include the 2012 Tony Award Winning Best Musical, Once, Fiddler on the Roof with Topol, and Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella with Eartha Kitt. She has performed as a solo artist with Neil Sedaka, Robert Klein, the Klezmer Conservatory Band, the Klez Dispensers, the Grammy-Award winning Klezmatics and The Three Yiddish Divas in Concerts and Klezmer Music festivals across the US, Canada, Mexico and Europe, including Vienna Kulterherbst, Warsaw Zingera Festival, Jewish Culture Festival Krakow, the Montreal Jazz Festival and New York’s Carnegie Hall. Joanne writes and directs KIDS & YIDDISH for the Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre in NYC, an innovative kids show that strives to teach Yiddish to young people… so their parents won’t understand them! Joanne performs the US national anthem at professional sporting events, sings Barbershop harmony with her folks, and plays Baruška the ukulele and Dorothy, her little red accordion.
Josh “Socalled” Dolgin is a musician, performer, composer, and producer based in Montreal, Quebec. He has worked with in a myriad styles with a myriad cool artists, including Enrico Macias, Roxanne Shante, Gonzales, DJ Assault, Krakauer, and Fred Wesley. His passion for Yiddish music and culture was sparked at a KlezKanada in the late 20th century.
Joshua Horowitz, composer, arranger, pianist, accordionist, is the founder and director of Budowitz and co founder of Veretski Pass. He has performed and recorded with The Vienna Chamber Orchestra and Itzhak Perlman on PBS’s Great Performance series. Joshua is the recipient of numerous awards for his work as both composer and performer. He received the Prize of Honor by the Austrian government as well as the “Award for Outstanding Talent in Composition” from the City of Graz and was twice finalist in the National American ASCAP competition. Films featuring his music and scoring have been nominated for an Emmy (Defiant Requiem) and have been awarded the Indie Film Fest Award of Merit (Blast Zone) as well as the Sandford St. Martin Trust Religious Broadcasting Award and second place in The Palm Springs International Film Festival 2013. He currently teaches at Sonoma State University.
Karen Shopsowitz is an award-winning director, editor, writer, producer, and occasional cameraperson whose work has been screened nationally and internationally. Her most recent credit is “GrandParenting”, a documentary produced in association with TVO which takes an intimate look at several grandparents who are raising their grandchildren full-time, with little or no involvement from their own children. Prior to this, she produced/directed/edited “One Summer at Camp Winston”, a one hour doc about a camp for children with complex neurological disorders, produced in association with the documentary channel in Canada. Other credits include director/editor and co-writer of “My Father’s Camera”, (produced by the National Film Board of Canada, and winner of the prestigious Peabody Award); series producer and director/co-editor of “Canada’s War in Colour” (produced by YAP Films, and broadcast on the CBC and SRC (Canada), producer/director/writer/editor of “A Place to Save Your Life” (about the Jewish refugee community of Shanghai), and producer/director/writer/editor of the award-winning “My Grandparents Had a Hotel”. In 2012, she completed the Women in the Director’s Chair (WIDC), a program in which eight women from across Canada travel to the Banff Centre to work with professional crews, developing their fiction directing skills. Karen also has a certificate in screenwriting from the University of Southern California’s Writer’s Studio on-line program, as well as a Master of Fine Arts degree from York University’s Department of Film and Video and a Bachelor of Journalism degree from Carleton University in Ottawa. She frequently teaches video and film to young people through a variety of programs, and has also taught a course on-line in writing for the documentary, at UCLA’s Writer’s Studio. She is currently developing a fiction series as well as several documentary programs.
Bio coming soon!
Lisa Mayer is an award-winning writer and musician. Together with her husband Sruli and often with her sons Zachary and Aaron, she performs, sings, and teaches all over the world. Lisa and Sruli have led the Kids Klezmer program at KlezKanada for over 20 years!
Michael Kaminer is a New York writer who collects original comic and cartoon art. He wrote the 2008 Jewish Daily Forward story that inspired Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women, a museum exhibition now touring North America. In addition to the Forward, Michael’s writing has been published in the New York Times, New York Daily News, Washington Post, Vegetarian Times, Out Traveler, the Jewish Week and Jewish Living.
One of the original KlezKanada staff members and author of three books on Yiddish, including the bestselling Born to Kvetch, Michael Wex has taught the language at the University of Toronto and the University of Michigan and is a mainstay of the contemporary Yiddish scene. A native-speaker whose Yiddish songs have been recorded by such bands as the Grammy-winning Klezmatics, Wex has translated material ranging from classical Yiddish literature to testimony for war crimes trials. He has also translated The Threepenny Opera from German into Yiddish. His most recent book, Rhapsody in Schmaltz, a study of Ashkenazi food that does for Yiddish food what Born to Kvetch did for Yiddish speech, was published in April 2016 by St. Martin’s Press.
Clarinetist Michael Winograd lives in Brooklyn New York. He is one third of the transatlantic klezmer/cabaret collective Yiddish Art Trio, clarinetist of Tarras Band, a classic 1950’s Jewish American tribute group, and the co-founder and director of the ground breaking, borderless world fusion band Sandaraa. He has performed alongside Itzhak Perlman, The Klezmer Conservatory Band, Frank London, Socalled, Budowitz, Alicia Svigals, Vulfpeck, and many others. He has played concerts and taught workshops all over the world.
Born on December 18, 1938 in Tel Aviv, Moussa Berlin is the foremost representative of klezmer tradition in the Land of Israel, the patriarch of the style that has also produced such fine clarinetists as Gershon Kletzkin and Yechiel Frank. Moussa’s father was a Hasid (Modzitz). Moussa is not himself Hasidic, but much of his work since the early 1970s has been for the various Hasidic groups. He studied at a national religious yeshiva and first came into contact with klezmer music when he heard Avrum Segal – at that time the leading klezmer in Israel – at Mount Meron during the annual Lag Ba’omar pilgrimage in 1952. A self-taught clarinetist, Moussa began to attend Lag Ba’omer at Meron regularly and from 1961 onward learned the repertoire and style at Segal’s side. In 1973 he succeeded Segal as lead clarinetist there. Already in the 1960s, Moussa began to learn repertoire from 78 rpm recordings of European and American klezmorim, introducing it to Israeli audiences a decade in advance of the American klezmer revival. In 1984 Moussa formed the group Sulam (klezmer music from Tel Aviv, WERGO CD, SM 1506, 1992), which also included the well-respected Soviet-émigré jazz nusician, Roman Kunsman. Moussa held a day job as software engineer until 1990, when he became fully professional as a musician. He plays for all sectors of Israeli orthodox society: Hasidim, Litvak, National Religious, mizrachi (oriental) communities, as well as for student parties, birthday and wedding celebrations, festivals and other public concerts. He has performed in Germany, England, Switzerland, Italy, France, Poland, Russia and the USA, and has produced radio programs, tapes and CDs, field workshops, and taught practical courses at Bar-Ilan University. Moussa is the only of Israeli’s orthodox klezmorim to also regularly perform for secular audiences in Israel and to maintain contacts with klezmer revivalists in the US and Europe, performing together with musicians such as Joel Rubin, Brave Old World, and the Klezmatics. In the words of Moussa himself, when playing, the klezmer “should behave like the instrument, in humbleness, without any foreign thoughts in mind except those concerning the music. More then that, the player should keep in his mind only the thought: how to make my music so that the hand of the Lord will lay upun us. In Judaism, music itself is only a means to bring upon us the heavenly inspiration”. (From a booklet by Joel Rubin)
Nikolai “Kolya” Borodulin is Yiddish programming coordinator at KlezKanada, the organizer of the Trip to Yiddishland program (Circle Lodge, Hopewell Junction, New York), and the master teacher and director of Yiddish programming at the Workmen’s Circle in New York. He teaches Yiddish language and culture to multigenerational audiences: kids, teens, and adults – sometimes four generations together. Kolya runs and teaches online Yiddish classes at the Workmen’s Circle for over 120 students from 12 countries and 23 states each semester. He is the author of “Yiddish Year Round: A Curriculum for the Young Beginners” and a number of Yiddish educational materials for children. Kolya also teaches at the Yiddish Book Center’s YiddishSchool.
Patrick Farrell is a Brooklyn-based accordionist and composer who specializes in klezmer, new-music, various East-European folk musics, and brass band music. His current projects include the Yiddish Art Trio with Michael Winograd and Benjy Fox-Rosen, unique and unusual duets with trumpeter Ben Holmes, and chamber-folk ensemble Ljova and the Kontraband. He is also a member of the mighty Panorama Brass Band of New Orleans, LA, his former home, and until recently led and composed for the circus/new-music group Stagger Back Brass Band. He plays in Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All-Stars and Alicia Svigals’ Klezmer Fiddle Express, and also arranges music for various ensembles. Farrell has appeared on over 30 recordings, most recently with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, and Benjy Fox-Rosen. He has studied accordion in Macedonia, Serbia, Germany and Romania, and has played in clubs, concert halls, streets, and serenades all over North America and Europe. He can be found at www.pattysounds.com.
Rachel Lemisch is a classically trained trombonist, with an affinity for the music of Eastern Europe, Turkey, the Balkans, and the Middle East.
As a member of the Klezmer/Turkish group Shtreiml, Rachel has performed internationally, most notably in the Krakow Festival of Jewish Music and Culture in Krakow, Poland; the Klezmore Festival in Vienna, Austria; the Montreal International Jazz Festival; and the Ashkenaz Festival in Toronto, Canada. Shtreiml features the original compositions and harmonica playing of her husband, Jason Rosenblatt. Rachel also plays in the high energy gypsy Balkan Montreal brass band, Fanfare Severni and is a long-standing member the Fabulous Shpielkes. In 2008, Rachel began the Community Klezmer initiative, an ensemble that brings together people of varying musical background, age, and ethnicity to learn and perform Eastern European Jewish music in and around Montreal.
Sarah Mina Gordon is a fourth generation Yiddish folk singer. Sarah has recorded and performed with Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All-Stars, The Klezmatics, Daniel Kahn and The Painted Bird, Sharabi and others; she fronts Yiddish Princess, a Yiddish rock band.
Daughter of legendary Yiddish singer and scholar Adrienne Cooper(z’l), Sarah grew up immersed in innovative Yiddish culture. Dedicated to making new Yiddish art, she has collaborated with Michael Winograd, Frank London, Alicia Svigals, and The Klezmatics to write pen Yiddish songs which are sung around the world. Her song, Ekhod/Who Knows One, is an internationally known and has been taught and performed at festivals from California to Krakow.
Sarah is also an educator, teaching third grade at Brooklyn Friends School for over a decade and designing and leading Yiddish culture programs for children and adults.
Sruli combines the best of many worlds – a scholarly background in Talmud and the law, musical virtuosity, a passionate Jewish spirit, and a gift for creating a happy and magical community. Sruli, together with his wife Lisa, have appeared on PBS-TV, performed on National Public Radio, and headlined at Jewish Festivals from Cracow to Jerusalem, Toronto to Texas. Sruli is extensively quoted as a primary source of Hasidic Music and philosophy in the Journal of the Society of Ethnomusicology (Spring/Summer 2007) and he is profiled as a contemporary Jewish educator for the Wexner Oral History Project at the National Yiddish Book Center. Sruli and Lisa have performed at theaters, JCC’s, synagogues, universities and schools as well as at hundreds of Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and weddings. Sruli is currently the Rabbi of Temple Shalom, in Auburn, Maine.
Born on Governor’s Island, Bar Mitzvahed in the Bronx, and now living in Philadelphia, Steven Lee Weintraub received his dance training in Manhattan with Alvin Ailey and Erick Hawkins, among others. His career as a teacher of traditional Yiddish dance has placed him in demand at festivals and workshops around the world, including KlezKamp, KlezKanada, and festivals in Krakow, Furth, Paris, London, and Weimar. He has led hundreds of people in community dance, and choreographed and performed Yiddish dance flash mobs in Krakow, Paris, and Weimar. At the Festival Week of Yiddish Summer Weimar 2016, he choreographed and performed in a new Yiddish dance theater piece, “GILGUL -Transformations”.
Stu has been with Brave Old World since 1989, and more recently has had the great good fortune to be a member of Veretski Pass. Stu holds a BA in music from UCLA and has taught at Sweets Mill, Fiddle Tunes, Mendocino Balkan Camp, KlezKamp, KlezKanada, KlezCalifornia, KlezFest London, Yiddish Summer Weimar, Klezmer Festival Fürth, and the Krakow Jewish Cultural Festival.
Susan Hoffman Watts represents the youngest generation of an important klezmer dynasty that reaches back to the Jewish Ukraine of the 19th century, beginning with her great-grandfather, musician, composer, cornet-player, and poet, Joseph Hoffman. Susan is the sole living purveyor of the family’s traditional klezmer-style trumpet sounds which electrified audiences for decades. Susan and the Hoffman family are the features of several televised documentaries.
In addition to playing with a variety of noted klezmer musicians from around the world, Hoffman Watts has recorded, performed and sang with, Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All-Stars, David Krakauer ,So-Called, Claire Barry, Many Pitankin, Dudu Fischer, Mikveh, Beyond the Pale, Shtreimel, The Klez Dispensers, Greg Wall, The Klezmatics, Henkus Netsky, Klezmer Concervatory Band. Susan also performs with her mother, the great klezmer drummer Elaine Hoffman Watts, in their Philadelphia-based group, the Fabulous Shpielkehs. I remember Klezmer, The Art of Klezmer Druming with her mother is now a mainstay in the modern klezmer cannon
Tamara Kramer is a Montrealer who went to Catholic school and then to Bialik High School. First the nuns, then the Yiddishists! She has a degree in comparative religion and in journalism. Tamara is the creator and host of Shtetl on the Shortwave, a quirky radio show about alternative Jewish arts and culture based in Montreal and the editor of Shtetl Magazine. Check out these projects at ShtetlMontreal.com
Tine Kindermann is a German-Jewish visual artist and singer who lives and works in New York City. Her artistic work and recordings of old German folk songs draw inspiration from the darker side of folklore and deal with the timeless themes of love and loss, longing and loneliness.Tine’s dioramas and paintings have been shown at Stephen Romano Gallery, NY Studio Gallery, Metaphor Contemporary Art, NYU Galleries, the Toy Theatre Museum, the Manhattan Borough President’s Office and other places. Tine has been teaching in the visual arts program at KlezKanada for many years and loves it.
Yael Halevi-Wise teaches Israeli, English and Comparative literature at McGill University. She is interested in the history of the Novel (as a literary genre) from 17th C. Spain to the present time. Her current project centers on the work of the Israeli writer A. B. Yehoshua.
Master violinist Yaela Hertz is a legendary teacher and performer. As concertmaster of the McGill Chamber Orchestra and as the violinist of the Hertz Trio, she concertized and gave master classes around the world, and has been on the faculties of McGill University, Conservatoire de Musique du Quebec, Ecole Vincent D’indy, and the National Youth Orchestra of Canada.
Since the first years of KlezKanada, Yaela has taken violinists of all ages and abilities under her expert wing to mentor and guide. Her generosity, commitment and expertise have made an incalculable contribution to the musical life of KlezKanada and are an inspiration to all.
Bio coming soon!
Zach Mayer has grown up at KlezKanada, singing nigunim with his mother Lisa Mayer and step-father Sruli Dresdner. He is delighted to return to KlezKanada to lead the Teenagers in Lvov ensemble as well as the Basic Klezmer Repertoire class. He is also very excited to co-lead Sruli Dresdner’s nigunim workshop, which may feature some of his originally composed nigunim.
Walter Zev Feldman is a leading researcher in both Ottoman Turkish and Jewish
music. During the 1970s he spearheaded the revival of klezmer music. Today he is a performer on the traditional klezmer dulcimer, the cimbal, and on the Ottoman lute, the tanbur. He has performed internationally with his group Khevrisa (“European Klezmer Music” Smithsonian Folkways), and with the Alexander Fiterstein Trio.
In 1985 Feldman received an NEH grant to translate the Ottoman music theory of the Moldavian Prince Demetrius Cantemir (ca. 1700), which led to
his classic book, Music of the Ottoman Court: Makam, Composition, and the Early Ottoman Instrumental Repertoire (Berlin, 1996), which is taught as a basic text worldwide. He contributed the “Ottoman Music” and “Klezmer Music” articles to the New Groves Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2001). In 2004 he co-directed the successful application of the Mevlevi Dervishes of Turkey as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity for UNESCO.
His current research interests include the relation of rhythmic cycle (usul) and melody in Ottoman music, and he was the keynote speaker in the conference ”Rhythmic Cycles and Structures in the Art Music of the Middle East,” held at the University of Münster (2014). He is a board member of the Corpus Musciae Ottomanicae (CMO) Project of the Wilhelm Westphalian University in Münster, where he was recently a fellow, working on the earliest manuscripts of the music of Tanburi Isak Fresco (d.1814).
His book Klezmer: Music, History and Memory, will be published this year by Oxford University Press. and he is preparing a new book, Untold Stories: Transnational Klezmer Music of Bessarabia and Historical Moldova, from Istanbul to America, utilizing field work and archival research in Moldova, Greece and Israel. He has just co-authored the Bibliography of East European Jewish Folk Music (with Michael Lukin) for Oxford University Press.
Feldman is also an authority on East European Jewish dance, forming part of his current research on the role of gesture in the performing arts, which he taught in the NYU Abu Dhabi core course “Gesture” from 2012 to 2014.
Walter Zev Feldman is Visiting Professor of Music at New York University Abu Dhabi, Director of the An-sky Institute for Traditional Jewish Expressive Culture at the Center for Traditional Music and Dance (NYC), and Board Member of Corpus Musicae Ottomanicae (University of Münster).
Zev Moses is the director of the Museum of Jewish Montreal. After graduating with a Masters in City Planning at the University of Pennsylvania, he returned to Montreal to work at an urban planning and real estate consulting firm and as a researcher at McGill University. In 2010, he founded the Museum of Jewish Montreal, with the initial goal of creating an online portal that connects users to Montreal’s Jewish history and culture. The Museum opened its first physical location in June 2016.