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Klezfest 2023

Sunday 20th August 2023 | 9:30 am Friday 25th August 2023 | 6:00 pm

Come join us for JMI’s world famous Klezfest!

This year we are taking the theme of ensembles and orchestras to a whole new level, with a faculty who have extensive experience, arranging, composing and conducting orchestras and large ensembles. This is about us playing together!

Delve into the wonderful world of klezmer with an incredible team of teachers at the helm to inspire you to explore this celebratory, soulful and melodic music from nineteeth century Jewish Eastern Europe.

Go at your own pace, learn great tunes and gain knowledge of the modes, ornamentation, rhythms and accompaniment that give klezmer its unique flavour. Play in small ensembles, be part of the Klezfest Orchestra and learn tips and tricks on your instrument to play in a klezmer style. There will also be a faculty concert and plenty of opportunity for jamming in the evenings.

This is a course for everyone who plays an instrument and wants to go deeper into learning about klezmer style. We welcome people who are new to klezmer, but you will need a good grasp of your instrument in order to participate. The course will be taught by ear as well as using the dots and there will be opportunities to develop both of these skills. We aim to set a pace that is right for everybody, and will be able to work in smaller groups for instrument-specific tuition and ensemble playing.

Every morning will begin with a communal dancing sessions led by our dance tutor Sonia Gollance and the Klezfest Faculty with both Klezfest and Golden Peacock students together.

Daily timings

Sunday: Register from 5pm and then the Klezfest Jam and social from 6pm
Monday – 0930am – 6pm / Klezfest Jam
Tuesday – 10am – 6pm / Klezfest Jam
Wednesday – 10am – 6pm / Klezfest Jam
Thursday – 10am – 6pm / Klezfest Concert
Friday -10am – 5.30pm / Closing party

Course tutors:

Susi Evans (Head of Faculty) (Clarinet)
Frank London (Brass)
Szilvia Csaranko (Keys/Accordion)
Anna Lowenstein (Violin/Strings)
Ilya Shneyveys (Bass/Plucked strings/Accordion)
Simon Roth (Drums/Percussion)
Sonia Gollance (Dance)
*Now added!*
Francesca Ter-Berg (Cello/Tenor lines), guest tutor Weds 23rd, 

  • Any questions? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the JMI team for extra information about the course, accommodation advice or financial support. We can offer our students a discount on housing with the University of London.

Full rate £250
(£225 if booked before 1st June 2023)
Student / Senior rate £175 (£160 if booked before 1st June 2023)
Senior rate is set at 65+

Refund policy:
10% if cancelled before 1 June.
25% if cancelled before 1 July.
50% if cancelled after 1 August.

Jewish Music Institute
Room 536
SOAS, University of London
Thornhaugh Street,
Russell Square,
London WC1H 0XG

£160.00 – £250.00

£160.00 – £250.00


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Susi Evans (Head of Faculty) (Clarinet)

Susi Evans is “one of the best klezmer clarinettists of our day” (Simon Broughton, Songlines Magazine). 

She is a founder member of both She’Koyokh and the London Klezmer Quartet with whom she has toured Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil and released a total of eight studio albums. Susi has performed as a soloist with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Aurora Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Swan. In Europe she performs regularly with her duo partner, accordionist Szilvia Csaranko, together with whom she published the Klezmer Playbook and founded the Klezmer Playbook CLUB.

Susi appeared regularly on London’s West End stage in the National Theatre’s smash-hit production of War Horse and has worked with BAFTA-winning composer Jocelyn Pook, the Mahogany Opera Group and as musical director for Limbik Theatre. 

Susi grew up in Hemel Hempstead, attended the Purcell School of Music and after graduating from the Royal Academy of Music continued her studies in Istanbul and at the Plovdiv Academy of Music in Bulgaria. 

She is Head of Faculty at Klezfest London and has taught and performed at all the major international klezmer festivals including Yiddish New York, KlezKanada and Yiddish Summer Weimar.

In 2017 Susi received an ARAM (Associate of the Royal Academy of Music), awarded to former students who have made a significant contribution to the music profession. In 2020 she won second prize in the International Clarinettist Corona Competiton, adjudicated by 13 of the world’s leading clarinet players.

Frank London (Brass)

trumpet, keyboards

The word prolific doesn’t even begin to describe Frank London. Of course, there is the Klezmatics, which he co-founded in 1986. Frank plays trumpet and keyboard and sings with the group and he’s written many of the Klezmatics’ most popular songs. But his mile-long resumé has also seen London adding virtuosity to hundreds of concerts and recordings by everyone from John Zorn to They Might Be Giants, Mel Torme to Iggy Pop, Pink Floyd, Youssou N’dour, LaMonte Young, Allen Ginsberg and LL Cool J! Called the “mystical high priest of Avant-Klez jazz,” Frank has made 30 solo recordings and is featured on over 400 CDs. His current projects include the dance theater work Salomé, Woman of Valor (with Adeena Karasick), the Yiddish-opera-in-a-Cuban-nightclub, Hatuey (with Elise Thoron), Astro-Hungarian band Glass House Orchestra, Sharabi (bhangra-klez with Deep Singh), Ahava Raba (with Cantor Yanky Lemmer), and Vilde Mekhaye (Eleanor Reissa + Frank’s Klezmer Brass Allstars). He’s a regular face on New York’s cutting-edge downtown club scene and music festivals everywhere, and has written dozens of scores for theater, film and dance. He collaborated with Judith Sloane on 1001 Voices: A Symphony for a New America for the Queens Symphony Orchestra and choir. He was music director for David Byrne and Robert Wilson’s The Knee Plays, collaborated with Palestinian violinist Simon Shaheen, taught Jewish music in Canada, Crimea and the Catskills, and produced CDs for Gypsy legend Esma Redzepova, and Algerian pianist Maurice el Medioni. He was even featured on the soundtrack to Sex and the City!

Of course London is mainly known for his contribution to contemporary Jewish music. When he first heard klezmer music, Frank says, “I was very blown away by the funky rhythms, the polyphony, the wild old-world, old school ornamentation, the particular way it expressed its Jewishness and how the instrumental music was not at all kitschy or corny the way most Jewish music I had heard up to that point was.”

Frank London graduated from New England Conservatory with a degree in Afro-American music. While living in Boston, he played with a host of diverse groups, from the Klezmer Conservatory Band (a founding member, playing on their first six recordings) to the Haitian band Volo-Volo to the salsa band Los Hermanos Pabón, Mark Harvey’s new music big band Aardvark, the world music group Les Misérables Brass Band, and the improvisational Ensemble Garuda. “Playing a genre or style of music is like learning a language,” he says. “You need to know the vocabulary, grammar, syntax, content, history, idioms and inflections in order to become fluent. But improvisation is outside of style; it focuses on the sonic ontology of music. What is sound? What are the aesthetics of sound and silence? These questions are at the center of all my music.”

After settling in New York City in 1985, London began working with the all-star ensemble led by auteur Kip Hanrahan (which also included Jack Bruce of Cream), and then started working with Hasidic wedding musicians and learning the style and repertoire of Jewish music, as well as becoming involved in Hasidic philosophy and community. He also became a member of Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy. Then, after answering an ad for klezmer musicians, Frank met Lorin Sklamberg and the Klezmatics came to be.

Among London’s other projects are the internationally acclaimed folk-opera A Night In The Old Marketplace, Davenen for Pilobolus and the Klezmatics, Great Small Works’ The Memoirs Of Gluckel Of Hameln and Min Tanaka’s Romance. His Klezmer Brass Allstars‘ CD Carnival Conspiracy was awarded the German Grammy; the Hasidic New Wave’s entire recorded oevre has been released as a box set on Tzadik Records, he completed two commissions for Carnegie Hall and served as an artist-in-residence in Krems, Austria. Green Violin, his musical theater piece about the Soviet Yiddish theater written with Elise Thoron, won a Barrymore Prize for best new musical. London is on the faculty of SUNY Purchase, and is currently Artistic Director of KlezKanada. With each new undertaking, London brings his knowledge of the music’s traditions and aesthetics with him, “showing a way for people to embrace Yiddish culture on their own terms as a living, breathing part of our world and its political and aesthetic landscape.”

Szilvia Csaranko (Keys/Accordion)

Szilvia Csaranko – accordion & piano

Szilvia was born in Budapest, raised in Germany, and comes from a Hungarian family of professional musicians. She started training as a classical pianist at the age of six. She graduated from the University of Hildesheim in Cultural Education Studies. She discovered her love for the accordion when she began searching for her own musical roots through intensive study of Eastern European folklore and klezmer music.
Szilvia lives in Hannover and works as an accordionist, pianist and arranger with numerous ensembles and projects all over Europe. She is one of only a handful of accordionists in Germany specialising in traditional Yiddish music.

She is co-founder and musical director of the Klezmerorchester Erfurt, an 80-piece klezmer orchestra of amateur and professional musicians from all over Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Their motto Klez-We-Can brilliantly reflects this project that brings together musicians of all generations and musical backgrounds.

Szilvia has taught and performed at all the major international klezmer festivals including Yiddish New York, KlezKanada and Yiddish Summer Weimar.
 She performs regularly with her duo partner, clarinettist Susi Evans, together with whom she published the Klezmer Playbook and founded the Klezmer Playbook CLUB.

Anna Lowenstein (Violin/Strings)

Training initially in Classical music, Anna graduated from Manchester University in 2015 with a BA in Music where she specialised in Performance and Ethnomusicology.

She has gigged, toured and taught across London and the UK, including at Cecil Sharp House, for Southbank Centre’s Friday Tonic series and The Jazz Cafe in London, Sage Gateshead- Newcastle, and multiple tours for the National Rural Touring Forum.

Since 2011, Anna has been traveling internationally to learn with some of the leading performers and teachers of Klezmer music including Alicia Svigals in New York, Alan Bern in Weimar, Germany and Frank London in, well….London.

She is fast becoming one of the UK’s most sought after performers and teachers of the Klezmer fiddle style – appearing in the 3-month run of highly critically acclaimed production of Indecent alongside Musical Director and Clarinetist Merlin Shepherd, performing widely as part of Klezmer trio Loshn and teaching at The Jewish Music Institute’s Klezfest London

Ilya Shneyveys (Bass/Plucked strings/Accordion)

Ilya Shneyveys is an international performer, accordionist and multi-instrumentalist, teacher, composer, arranger and producer of contemporary Jewish music, from klezmer and Yiddish folk song to fusion and experimental projects.

A founding member of Berlin’s famous Neukölln Klezmer Sessions and Shtetl Neukölln festival, as well as a long-time faculty member at Yiddish Summer Weimar, Ilya has performed and taught at major Jewish festivals around the world, including Yiddish Fest Moscow, Yiddish New York, Klezfest St.Petersburg, Klezfest London, KlezKanada, Montreal Jewish Festival, Toronto Ashkenaz Festival, Krakow Jewish Festival and more.

He is the artistic director and a founding member of the Yiddish psychedelic rock band Forshpil (LV-RU-DE), which just released a new album, and a founding member of the Yiddish-Bavarian fusion project Alpen Klezmer (DE), winner of 2014 RUTH World Music Award at TFF Rudolstadt. He is an artictic director of the German-Israeli student exchange project The Caravan Orchestra, for which he was awarded the 2017 Shimon-Peres-Prize. As a touring member of the klezmer-balkan band Dobranotch (RU) he has received the Eiserne Eversteiner Preis in 2017. He has performed and collaborated with such projects like Opa! (RU), The Klezmatics (US), Daniel Kahn and the Painted Bird (DE) and many others.

Ilya composes contemporary traditional klezmer pieces and creates original arrangements of traditional Jewish music. He is renowned as an improviser, accompanist and band leader.

Originally from Riga, Latvia, Ilya has been traveling the world for the last 15 years promoting Yiddish music and culture. He is currently based in Brooklyn, NY, where he’s been organising socially distanced klezmer jam sessions and picnics during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Simon Roth (Drums/Percussion)

Simon Roth is a multi-instrumentalist, improviser, curator and composer whose work straddles the Contemporary and Traditional. He is known first and foremost as a drummer and grew up within a family of musicians in a house between an old forest, the M25 and the Metropolitan line, immersed in Big Band Jazz, Free Improv, Classical music, Klezmer, 1960s Pop and a well worn tape of the Metropolitan Police Big Band performing The A Team Theme Tune, which was the sound of adventure in the form of press rolls and brass swells. Since then he has toured across Europe, North and South America and Asia. UK Performance highlights include Ronnie Scott’s International Piano Trio Festival, South Bank Centre, Kings Place Festival and opening of the EFG London Jazz Festival. Other festival appearances include Latitude, Green Man, Shambala and Wilderness.

“Simon Roth’s drumming is always just perfect – subtle, imaginative, in the pocket and never too loud.”
London Jazz News.

“Fine drummer & young conjuror of surprises”
John Fordham, Guardian

“An overflow of creative juices, with each musician allowed the freedom to express their personality through a selection of finely tuned angular grooves and intricate melodic writing”
Jazz UK on Stories

Sonia Gollance - Dance Tutor

Born in New York and based in London, Sonia Gollance is Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Yiddish at University College London. A scholar, translator and dance leader, her research is broadly concerned with the ways dance, theatre, gender and the body mediate Jewish experiences of modernity. One of the leading scholars of European Jewish dance, her work engages with the emerging field of literary dance studies from a Jewish Studies perspective. Her first book, It Could Lead to Dancing: Mixed-Sex Dancing and Jewish Modernity (Stanford University Press, 2021) was a National Jewish Book Awards (USA) finalist. She has taught dance and presented her research at Jewish cultural festivals in the United Kingdom and internationally, including KlezNorth, Yiddish New York and KlezKanada. She is the Managing Editor of Plotting Yiddish Drama, an initiative of the Digital Yiddish Theatre Project that offers an online database of English-language synopses of the Yiddish dramatic repertoire. She is currently translating Tea Arciszewska’s play Miryeml and developing a new project on women who wrote plays in Yiddish.