Events‎ > ‎2011 Festival Santa Rosa‎ > ‎

Teachers & Performers


(Berkeley) Sharon Jan Bernstein (voice, piano) lived in New York, Jerusalem and Italy before returning home to the Bay Area, where she serves as the Cantor of Congregation Sha'ar Zahav. She has presented her rare Yiddish repertoire in Europe, Israel and the U.S. in venues including the Ancona Jewish Music Festival, RAI National Italian Radio, Yung Yidish, Habimah Theatre Jerusalem, Berkeley Jewish Music Festival, World Congress of Jewish Studies, Makor, Center for Jewish History and the 92nd Street Y. She has taught Yiddish song in Jerusalem, Vilnius Summer Yiddish Program and at previous KlezCalifornia events. Her repertoire mixes less known or never performed songs (most notably from the Noy Collection) with new compositions such as those by Beyle Schaechter Gottesman, organized according to subtle and captivating themes. Her "delightfully clear voice" (J. Pinnolis, can be heard in Beyle Schaechter Gottesman's Af Di Gasn Fun Der Shtot (2003).


(Berkeley) It was his Uncle Dave’s foot-stomping klezmer accordi0n that first set Bruce's toes on fire. He is now honored to carry the Yiddish dance tradition forward to new generations and to those who already seem to know it in their bones. In the many Yiddish dance workshops, classes and events he leads throughout the Bay Area and beyond, Bruce’s whimsical and easy to follow style of leading invite everyone into the circle to shine -- regardless of age or experience. Along with a career in the theater as an award winning actor/director/playwright and choreographer, Bruce cut his teeth in the folk world as a performer with the acclaimed Aman Folk Ensemble of Los Angeles. He has studied with some of the great Yiddish dance masters including: Steve Weintraub, Zev Feldman, Michael Alpert, Deborah Strauss and the legendary Felix Fibich. Bruce is now a leading presenter of klezmer dance at festivals and workshops including KlezCalifornia, Jewish Music Festival, Yerba Buena Arts Summer Concert Series, and the Palo Alto JCC's To Life! Festival. Bruce is currently the resident director of the musical theater wing of the Stagebridge theater company and directs the Never Too Late players. He recently formed a new klezmer dance ensemble that meets in Berkeley.


(Berkeley) Educator, writer, and Yiddish translator, Ken Blady was born in Paris and grew up in Hasidic Brooklyn, where he attended yeshiva and rabbinical seminary. A Bay Area resident since 1972, Ken has a B.A. in History from U.C. Berkeley, and an M.A. in Educational Psychology from Cal State University East Bay. He is author of The Jewish Boxers’ Hall of Fame and Jewish Communities in Exotic Places, and translator of The Journeys of David Toback and Remembrance. A popular lecturer on a variety of Jewish themes at colleges, synagogues, elderhostels, and adult educational institutions, Ken has been featured on radio and television talk shows, including the Voice of Israel and The History Channel documentary, Operation Magic Carpet. He is a lecturer in Jewish history on the faculty of American Jewish University’s Whizen Center, Bel Air; Cal State University East Bay, Concord, OLLI program; and Diablo Valley College’s Emeritus College, Walnut Creek.


(Berkeley) Stu Brotman is an internationally-known musician who plays the string bass, basy (cello), tilinca (shepherd's flute) and baraban (Jewish bass drum). He has been a moving force in the klezmer revival, produced the Klezmorim's Grammy-nominated album, Metropolis, and has performed with the Klezmorim, Kapelye, Andy Statman, Klezmer Conservatory Band, Veretski Pass, and Itzhak Perlman. He has been recording, touring, and teaching New Jewish Music with world-class ensemble Brave Old World since 1989. With a grant from the Creative Work Fund, Stu and the two other members of Veretski Pass (Joshua Horowitz and Cookie Segelstein) have composed a wordless religious service for string trio, the Klezmer Shul.


Le'ah Lippin is a klezmer, formerly an accordionist with the Red Hot Chachkas. Gale Kissin is a Yiddish folksinger and guitarist. The two have teamed up as a new Yiddish duo with legitimate Old World roots, the Harmonia Schvesters. They will be joined for this performance by noted guitarist, Suzanne Shanbaum.


(Albany) Joshua Horowitz, tsimbl and 19th Century accordion, received his Masters degree in Composition and Music Theory from the Academy of Music in Graz, Austria, where he taught Music Theory and served for eight years as Research Fellow and Director of the Klezmer Music Research Project. He is founder and director of the ensemble Budowitz and has performed and recorded with Rubin & Horowitz, Brave Old World, Adrienne Cooper and Ruth Yaakov. Joshua taught Advanced Jazz Theory at Stanford University with the late saxophonist Stan Getz and is a regular teacher at KlezKamp, The Albuquerque Academy and KlezKanada. His musicological work is featured in four books, including The Sephardic Songbook with Aron Saltiel and The Ultimate Klezmer, and he has written numerous articles on the counterpoint of J.S. Bach. His recordings with Budowitz, Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Rubin & Horowitz, Alicia Svigals, Adrianne Greenbaum and Fialke have achieved international recognition and he is the recipient of more than forty awards, including the Prize of Honor from the Austrian government for his orchestral composition, Tenebrae. Besides his work as a musician, he led the first post-World War II music therapy group at the pioneering Beratungszentrum in Graz, Austria. His music was recently featured in the British film, Some of my best friends are .. Jewish/Muslim, which was awarded the Sandford St. Martin Trust Religious Broadcasting Awards, and in The Holocaust Tourist, and has provided the soundtrack to the popular German TV series, Berlin, Berlin.


(Albany) Cookie Segelstein, violin and viola, received her Masters degree in Viola from The Yale School of Music in 1984. She was principal violist in Orchestra New England and assistant principal in The New Haven Symphony Orchestra. She is the founder and director of Veretski Pass, and a member of Budowitz and of The Youngers of Zion with Henry Sapoznik. She has presented lecture/demonstrations and workshops on klezmer fiddling all over the world. She also has been on staff at Living Traditions' KlezKamp, KlezKanada and KlezCalifornia festivals. She has performed with numerous notables including Kapelye, The Klezmatics, Frank London, and The Klezmer Conservatory Band. She was featured on the ABC Documentary, A Sacred Noise, heard on HBO's Sex and the City, appears in the Miramax film, Everybody's Fine, starring Robert De Niro, and heard on several recordings including the Veretski Pass self-titled release and new new CD, Trafik. She is also publisher of The Music of... series of klezmer transcriptions. Active as a Holocaust educator and curriculum advisor, Cookie has been a frequent lecturer at the Women's Correctional Facility in Niantic, Connecticut. She is also an  Apple Certified Support Professional, and owns and operates The MacMama, LLC.


(Oakland) Gerry Tenney is a children’s entertainer, musician and teacher, singer of Yiddish songs and leader of the band California Klezmer. In 2002, 2004, and 2006 he was Musical Director for two Yiddish - oriented plays put on by San Francisco State University's Drama and Jewish Studies Departments. He directed the Jewish Music Festival in its early years and was a main organizer of the first klezmer camp in California (KlezKamp West) in 1989. He has led and performed children's music at many klezmer music camps in New York, West Virginia and California, as well as at other Jewish children's camps. Gerry has worked with children for more than forty years. He is director and music teacher of the East Bay Kindershul, the only kids’ school (grades K-8) in the Bay Area that emphasizes Yiddish culture. Gerry taught sociology at the City College of New York 1967-1972. He is an almost-fluent Yiddish speaker and is President of KlezCalifornia.


Harvey Varga, furniture designer and cabinetmaker, was born in New York City to Holocaust survivors. Yiddish is his first language. Harvey has been a teacher of Yiddish and other Jewish subjects since 1975 at Lehrhaus Judaica, Stanford University, JCC San Francisco, and KlezKamp. Harvey was on the Board of Directors of the JCC San Francisco, 1986 - 1990, and served on the S.F. Jewish Community Relations Council.  


 (Stu Brotman, Joshua Horowitz, and Cookie Segelstein) Taking its name from the mountain pass through which Magyar tribes crossed into the Carpathian basin to settle what later became the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Veretski Pass offers a unique and exciting combination of virtuosic musicianship and raw energy that has excited concertgoers across the world. With colorful instrumentation, unique arrangements and compositions, Veretski Pass plays "Old Country Music," music with origins in the Ottoman Empire, once fabled as the borderlands of the East and the West. In a true collage of Carpathian, Jewish, Rumanian and Ottoman styles, typical suites contain dances from Moldavia and Bessarabia, Jewish melodies from Poland and Romania, Hutzul wedding music from Carpathian-Ruthenia, and haunting Rebetic aires from Smyrna, seamlessly integrated with original compositions.