BERNSTEIN, SHARON

 
(Berkeley)
Vocalist and pianist Sharon Jan Bernstein lived in New York, Jerusalem, and Italy before returning home to the Bay Area, where she serves as the Cantor of San Francisco’s 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, jmwc.org) can be heard in Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman’s Af Di Gasn Fun Der Shtot (2003). See SharonBernstein.com
 

BIERMAN, BRUCE


(Berkeley)
Bruce Bierman is a core staff member of the Stagebridge Theater Company and Performing Arts Institute serving older adults, and recently opened the first Stagebridge branch in Los Angeles at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. He is also a well-known Jewish dance teacher and leader in the Bay Area, L.A,. and beyond, and has studied Yiddish dance with some of the best teachers in the country, including Steve Weintraub, Deborah Strauss, Michael Alpert and Felix Fibich. Bruce was a principal performer with the internationally renowned Aman Folk Ensemble. His theatre credits include: Actor: St. Joan (South Coast Repertory), Titus Andronicus (Shakespeare Santa Cruz), Mad Woman of Chaillot (Odyssey Theater Ensemble), Man of La Mancha, Time of Your Life, The Music Man (Saddleback Summer Stock); Playwright/Director: Gimpel the Fool (U.C. Santa Cruz), Wade in the Water (Odyssey Theater Ensemble), The Passion of Carmen (Celebration Theater), The Blue Dress (New Conservatory Theater); Choreographer: Fiddler on the Roof (Mountain View Performing Arts Center), Urinetown (Julia Morgan Theater), Sylvia (Ashby Stage). Bruce directed and choreographed Di Megileh of Itzik Manger at the 2014 and 2015 Jewish Music Festivals.
 

BLADY, KEN

 
(Berkeley) Educator, writer, and Yiddish translator, Ken Blady, was born in Paris, France, and grew up in Chassidic Brooklyn, where he attended yeshivas and rabbinical seminary. A San Francisco Bay Area resident since 1972, Ken has a BA in History from UC Berkeley, and an MA in Educational Psychology from CSU, East Bay. He is the author of "The Jewish Boxers' Hall of Fame," "Jewish Communities in Exotic Places"; and translator of seven works from Yiddish. A popular lecturer on a variety of Jewish themes at colleges, synagogues, elder hostels, and adult educational institutions, Ken has been featured on a number of radio and TV talk shows and educational programs, including The Voice of Israel and The History Channel. He is currently a lecturer in Jewish History at Emeritus College in Walnut Creek; OLLI at Cal State U. East Bay, Concord, and at San Francisco State University; and American Jewish University's Whizin Center in Los Angeles. See KenBlady.com
 

BROTMAN, STU


(Berkeley) Stu Brotman is an internationally-known multi-instrumentalist 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 recorded, toured, and taught New Jewish Music with world-class ensemble Brave Old World since 1989. Lately, Stu performs most often as a member of Veretski Pass (with Joshua Horowitz and Cookie Segelstein). See VeretskiPass.com
 

CANTRELL, DAN

 
(Richmond) Composer and multi-instrumentalist Dan Cantrell’s music is influenced by the traditions of Eastern Europe from Bulgarian Roma Wedding Bands to polyphonic vocal laments, Early American Jazz and Film music from Busby Berkeley, and Cab Calloway to Scott Joplin, and modern alternative rock like Radiohead, Bjork, and Soundgarden. Playing piano, accordion, musical saw, Hammond organ, harpsichord, and pump organ, his unique sound can be heard on the albums of Tom Waits, Joanna Newsom, Beats Antique, and the Toids, as well as in Major Motion Pictures such as Paramount Pictures’ "Mean Girls," and Roberto Benigni’s "The Tiger and the Snow." Dan performs and tours regularly with several ensembles including Beats Antique, Fishtank Ensemble, Gaucho, the Toids, and in original Balkan inspired ensembles that he directs. See Bellowhead.com
 

CHERNYAVSKY, DAVID


(San Francisco) David Chernyavsky, who joined the San Francisco Symphony in 2009, was born in 1978 in St. Petersburg, Russia. He began to study violin at the age of six, gave his first solo recital at 11, and at 15 began studies at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. In 1997 Chernyavsky came to the United States to study at the Indiana University School of Music. After graduating from Indiana University, and obtaining his master’s at Juilliard, he joined the St. Petersburg String Quartet. As a member of the quartet, he has given over 180 chamber music concerts throughout the world, and collaborated with such distinguished musicians as Ida Kavafian, Ruth Laredo, and Michael Tree. In 2005, Chernyavsky was appointed an Assistant Concertmaster of the Washington National Opera Orchestra, and he joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2007. Chernyavsky has recorded several CDs with the St. Petersburg String Quartet and with the Joel Rubin Klezmer Music Ensemble. His solo CD is "Klezmer Violin."
  

ESTRIN, MOISH

 
(Castro Valley) Played sax, rhythm guitar, bass and piano with The Living in the 1960s in Long Beach, NY. Graduated Long Island University with a major in music composition and a minor in education. Lived in Europe for 10 years, writing, arranging, recording, teaching, touring and performing music. Has been playing in the Bay area since 1986 in Taverna, Ellis Island Folk Band, SF Balalaika Ensemble, Oakland community orchestra, In Full Swing & What's Up big bands, the Ferris Wheels and leading his own award winning "Haimish Music" band which won 1st Place Klezmer Band in the annual J. magazine Readers' Poll 4 times. These days he plays mostly clarinet, mandolin, synthesizers and guitar... with an occasional oud, KB balalaika and Zhaleika to keep it ethnic. See Mikelion.com
 

FELDER, SARA

 
(Oakland) Sara Felder is a solo theater artist, playwright and juggler. While the themes of her plays and performances are serious, her form is comic, engaging, vaudevillian. She strives to integrate personal experiences with the urgency of this moment in history. Out of that mix she creates funny and provocative theater. Sara began performing in 1984 with San Francisco’s Pickle Family Circus. She has also toured with Jugglers for Peace in Cuba, the Women’s Circus in Nicaragua, Joel Grey’s Borscht Capades and at Festivals of Jewish/Yiddish Culture in Berlin, London, Amsterdam, New York, Los Angeles and Toronto. Through juggling, she has been able to find her theatrical voice, create compelling performance, teach alternative populations and pursue social justice. See SaraFelder.com
 

GASKIN, DMITRI

 
(Palo Alto) Dmitri Gaskin loves goats. When he's not drinking milk, making cheese, or eating yogurt, he plays accordion with Saul Goodman's Klezmer Band. Having played piano from the age of five, Dmitri began playing the accordion a few years later. He has studied with accordion masters Josh Horowitz and Alan Bern. Dmitri has served on the advisory board of the Jewish Music Festival. By day, Dmitri is a computer programmer. See itsallgoodman.com
 

HOROWITZ, JOSH

 

(Berkeley) Joshua Horowitz, tsimbl, button accordion, piano, 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 Adrienne Cooper, Theodore Bikel, Itzhak Perlman, The Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Brave Old World and Joel Rubin. 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.” He has written numerous articles on the counterpoint of J.S. Bach, and he is the recipient of numerous awards, including the honorary prize for his orchestral composition, Tenebrae, awarded by the Austrian government. Josh recently composed the chamber opera, “Lilith The Night Demon In One Lewd Act,” along with his colleagues in Veretski Pass, and is currently touring it in North America and Europe. See VeretskiPass.com

 

KLEIN, HEATHER

 
(Las Vegas and San Francisco) Heather Klein is an American soprano and “Yiddish Chanteuse” who follows her passion of “painting pictures” with her voice and bringing stories to life. She performs as a soloist across the U.S. and internationally. Klein has focused on a lesser known genre: Yiddish classical song; which is presented in her second self-produced CD “Shifreles Portret” with her “Inextinguishable Trio.” Most recently, Klein worked on a new opera called  Hatuey by Frank London at the Sundance Theatre Lab in North Adams, Massachusetts. She portrayed the role of Queen Esther in the West Coast premiere of the musical Itzik Manger’s Di Megile, and premiered the title role in Lilith the Night Demon, a modern Yiddish and English opera produced by Bay Area trio Veretski Pass.  She performed and produced Yiddish Spring a two-concert residency at The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco in honor of Yom HaShoah. In addition, Klein performed the role of Rosie in the world-premiere of Frauenstimmen, a cabaret opera based on the Holocaust, before a sold-out theater in Boston.

 

LEWICKI, JEANETTE

 
(Oakland) Vocalist and accordionist Jeanette Lewicki was orphaned young, without a dowry or family background, and did what she had to do to learn Yiddish and klezmer accordion. She picked up accordion at the vegan commune where she grew up (in her twenties), and studied Yiddish in New York at Columbia University, as well as in Europe. Jeanette has produced numerous acclaimed recordings including Mayn Shtetele Soroke (with Bessarabian Yiddish singer Arkady Gendler) and Fli Mayn Flishlang (Yiddish children’s songs by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman). She is the featured accordionist and Yiddish singer of the Klez-X, has played with Pablo Aslan and Jenny Scheinman on Jenny Levison’s Yiddish Tango project, and leads The Gonifs Klezmer Band, whose breakout recording is on Porto Franco Records. Jeanette loves to teach, and most recently co-taught with Arkady Gendler at Yiddish Summer Weimar, the groundbreaking Yiddish culture workshop directed by Dr. Alan Bern. See MadamLevitsky.com

MARMER, JAKE


 

(Stanford) Jake Marmer is a poet and performer. His recent jazz-poetry album “Hermeneutic Stomp” (Blue Thread Music, 2013) features jazz-klezmer luminaries and brings together diverse poetic and musical traditions, as well as 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). Jake’s poetry collection, “Jazz Talmud” was published by the Sheep Meadow Press in 2012. In the off-hours, he’s working on the doctoral dissertation for the CUNY Graduate Center. He frequently contributes to the Forward and Tablet Magazine, and is a co-founder of North America’s first Jewish Poetry retreat at KlezKanada Festival. In 2008-2009 he was a Dorot Fellow in Jerusalem. Jake teaches at Kehillah High School in Palo Alto, and lives in Stanford with his wife and two children. See JakeMarmer.wordpress.com

 

MUCHIN, ANDY

 
(Oakland) Andy Muchin was interim director of the Jewish Music Festival of the JCC East Bay in 2013-14. He has written about Jewish music for Moment magazine, the Forward, local Jewish newspapers across the country, and his own former award-winning publication, Jewish Heartland magazine. He hosts and produces Sounds Jewish, a weekly program on Mississippi Public Radio and other NPR stations. Andy’s encyclopedic knowledge of Jewish music of all different genres creates a unique sound. In one program, you might hear a traditional klezmer piece, a stand-up comic routine from the 60s, Israeli hip-hop and the gentle tones of a singer/songwriter. Listen to Sounds Jewish online anytime (all the shows are available for streaming) at mpbonline.org/soundsjewish  
 

NEWMAN, NAOMI

 
(Mill Valley) Naomi Newman was the co-founder of the Traveling Jewish Theatre Company (TJT), as well as a TJT playwright, director, and performer for 35 years until its closing in 2011. Before that she sang on the concert stage, acted in television, and had a psychotherapy practice. In the late seventies and early eighties she was on the senior staff at The Center for the Healing Arts in Los Angeles, a pioneer in exploring the psychological and spiritual aspects of healing. For her contributions to the cultural life in the Bay Area, Ms. Newman has received a Tikkun Award, A Millie, and Theatre Bay Area’s Community Leadership Award. An oral history of her life and career is now part of the Legacy Collection of The San Francisco Performing Arts Museum.
 

REBHAN, JIM


(El Cerrito) Accordionist Jim Rebhan has been a mainstay of the San Francisco Bay Area klezmer scene for many years. He has performed with the Ellis Island Old World Folk Band since 1980, and has been a longtime member of California Klezmer, recording with both groups. He is the son of Jewish immigrants who left Europe in the late 1930s (and who met in English language school), and grew up listening to Yiddish songs at home. His first accordion teachers were Italian immigrants in Chicago. He has studied klezmer accordion with Alan Bern (of Brave Old World) and Lauren Brody (of Mikveh). Jim majored in music at the University of Chicago, and has a Masters in Composition from California Institute of the Arts. He has taught at Living Traditions’ KlezKamp West and at KlezCalifornia festivals. In addition to piano accordion, Jim performs on drums and xylophone. See Musikers.com and CaliforniaKlezmer.com

 

PERLMUTTER, MIKE

 
(Berkeley) Originally from the Boston area, Mike has called the San Francisco Bay Area home since 1998. During that time he's devoted much energy to klezmer and Balkan folk musics, and has performed on saxophone and clarinet with both experimental and Eastern European folk-based groups, such as Inspector Gadje, Zoyres Eastern European Wild Ferment, and Saul Goodman's Klezmer Band. He's organized music and cultural events through KlezCalifornia, the Jewish Music Festival, the Subterranean Arthouse, and Saul's Deli in Berkeley, where he's curated Klezmer Mondays since April 2012. Outside of music, he works for the City of Oakland supporting volunteer efforts to clean, green, and beautify the city. He's also known for his pickling. See itsallgoodman.com
 

RUSSELL, ANTHONY "MORDECHAI TZVI"

 
(Oakland) Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell has worked primarily in the field of opera for the past fifteen years, culminating in a professional debut with the San Francisco Opera Company. More recently Anthony has devoted himself to the recital repertoire of Sidor Belarsky (1898–1975), one of the twentieth century’s most prolific performers of cantorial music, Chassidic nigunim, and Yiddish art song. Anthony’s work in Yiddish has brought him to the JCC in Manhattan, Symphony Space, Ideacity Conference in Toronto, KlezKanada, the Montreal and Berkeley Jewish Music Festivals and the Ashkenaz Festival, a week-long celebration of Jewish arts in Toronto. See anthonyrussellbass.com 
 

SAUL GOODMAN'S KLEZMER BAND

 
Saul Goodman's Klezmer Band comes from a musical tradition tracing back to the old world shtetl of Szrensk. Incorporating post-immigrant sounds rooted in klezmer, Saul Goodman's music moves the spirit and the dance. They've been the "house band" for Klezmer Mondays at Saul's Deli in Berkeley, and perform regularly for weddings, bar mitzvot, and other community celebrations.  Featuring Mike Perlmutter, clarinet & saxophone (see above); Dmitri Gaskin, accordion (see above); Jack Hanley, poyk & mandolin; Eric Perney, bass; Ilana Sherer, violin. It's always a simcha with Saul! See itsallgoodman.com


 

SAXON, STEPHEN

 
(Oakland) Stephen Saxon plays trumpets, alto horn, and sings. In addition to Klez-X, Stephen Saxon has performed and recorded as a trumpet player and / or singer with The Klezmorim, Klezmer Conservatory Band, Chanticleer, Kitka, San Francisco Symphony (soloist), Spokane Symphony (soloist), and many other excellent ensembles. He has served as Cantor for congregations in California, Texas, and Washington. Stephen is an award-winning arranger and composer, and he has composed and produced Gospel Shabbat, a new setting of the Friday evening service, accompanied by a Gospel band and choir. He teaches improvisation at the California Jazz Conservatory (formerly The Jazzschool) in Berkeley. See StephenSaxon.com
 

SEGELSTEIN, COOKIE


 

(Berkeley) Cookie Segelstein, violin and viola, received a 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 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, and Veretski Pass. See VeretskiPass.com

 

SHAW, ARJE


(Berkeley)
 Arje Shaw was born in Russia, and emigrated to New York as a child with his parents and sister from Bergen Belsen D.P. camp in 1949. After a career in the Jewish communal field, he became a professional playwright. His play "A Catered Affair" was produced Off-Broadway in 1994, and he wrote sit-com pilots for ABC in 1995. His play "The Gathering" was produced on Broadway in 2001, following the Off-Broadway production with Theodore Bikel and Jesse Eisenberg. "Magic Hands Freddy" was produced in 2004 at The Soho Playhouse. "Moolah," a dark comedy, is opening Off-Broadway in 2016. "The Fix," his debut novel based on his life, was published in 2011. He acts, writes, and produces — and performs as a singer in the comedy cabaret, "Yiddish Nite Live," with Gerry Tenney. His recent performance in Arthur Miller's "The Price" with the Jewish Theatre Company in Santa Cruz was lauded as "Perfection ... Whenever he's on stage, things pop with vitality."
 

TENNEY, GERRY


(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. For ten years, he hosted the Gershn YanklShow on KPFA. 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 was director and music teacher of the East Bay Kindershul, the only kids’ school (grades K-8) in the Bay Area that emphasized Yiddish culture. Gerry taught sociology at the City College of New York, 1967–1972. A descendant of the Shpielman family of the Kolymea klezmorim, Gerry is an almost-fluent Yiddish speaker and President of KlezCalifornia.  See CaliforniaKlezmer.com

VERETSKI PASS


 
The power trio of Cookie Segelstein, Josh Horowitz, and Stu Brotman offers a unique combination of virtuosic musicianship and raw energy that has excited concertgoers across the world. The trio plays Old Country 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, Romanian, 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. Their CDs have repeatedly been on the ten-best recording lists of journalists. In 2014 the group presented their magical folk opera, “Lilith the Night Demon in One Lewd Act,” in collaboration with the San Francisco Choral Artists. Their latest project is a forthcoming CD with clarinetist Joel Rubin. See VeretskiPass.com