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Staff Bios

Aaron AlexanderAaron Alexander is drummer based in NYC. He is leader of Midrash Mish Mosh and a member of Frank London's Klezmer Brass All-Stars, Greg Wall's Later Prophets, Alex Kontorovich's Deep Minor, Hasidic New Wave, Klezmerfest, and has had the privilege of working with the Klezmatics, Adrienne Cooper, German Goldenshteyn, Marilyn Lerner, Ray Musiker, Pete Sokolow, and Alicia Svigals.

Kurt Bjorling, although noted mainly as a clarinetist, plays several instruments and builds some of them. He attended the very first KlezKamp as a participant and was invited back the next year as an assistant teacher. Once introduced by Henry Sapoznik as "the first KlezKamp success story," he was a regular staff member every year from 1988 until the mid '90s, so he is delighted to be returning for this 30th KlezKamp.

Dan Blacksberg is one of the few trombonists playing klezmer music on the east coast. He has performed or recorded in the US and abroad with Frank London, Michael Winograd, Aaron Alexander, Susan Watts, Elaine Hoffman Watts, the Klez Dispensers, Hankus Netsky, Alan Bern, Adrienne Cooper, Alex Kontorovitch and the Shirim Klezmer Orchestra. These musical associations have brought Blacksberg to such far-flung locales as Hungary, Poland, Austria, Germany, Canada and some strange corners of Brooklyn.

Lauren Brody is an alumna of the pioneering klezmer revival band Kapelye, with whom she toured and recorded for over a decade, and is also a Yiddish singer well known for her unique old-world sound. Lauren leads a parallel life as a performer of the traditional music of Bulgaria and the Balkans, and has won a series of grants to conduct groundbreaking research in Bulgaria on early commercial folk music recordings.

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Peggy/Khaye Davis will lead evening activities for children. She has taught at KlezKamp for many years and works as a calligrapher and graphic artist. She also plays flute in the Wholesale Klezmer Band.

Josh DolginMaster mixer, cratedigger, musical continent-spanner SoCalled (aka Josh Dolgin) performs and records widely with a crew of mixed-up freaks and geniuses from around the world, including C Rayz Walz, Killah Priest, Matisyahu, Fred Wesley, Susan Hoffman-Watts, Frank London, and Irving Fields. Armed with his Akai MPC, heritage and love for genre-bending music, SoCalled is a Yiddish rapping, accordion wielding, Klezmer hip hop maestro.

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Jill Gellerman has danced, written about dance, and taught dance internationally—from Western Illinois University to Yiddish Summer Weimar. She is a veteran staff member of KlezKamp and a contributing author to the recent volume Seeing Israeli and Jewish Dance (2011) edited by Judith Brin Ingber.

Binyomin GinzbergBinyomin Ginzberg is a bandleader, keyboardist and vocalist on the NY Simkhe circuit, performing with his own groups under the JewishMusician.com name, as well as freelancing with many other bands. He also leads the Breslov Bar Band, a group exploring the music of the Breslov Chasidim. The band recently released their second album, "Happy Hour".

Sarah GordonSarah Gordon is a Yiddish singer and lyricist who has performed with Frank London, The Klezmatics and Mikveh among others. Her song lyrics have been recorded by Frank London's Klezmer Brass Allstars, Mikveh, Khevre and The Klezmatics. At 5'2" she is one of the tallest female poets in the history of Yiddish Literature.

Itzik GottesmanItzik Gottesman is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin, where he teaches Yiddish language, cultulre and folklore. He was the associate editor of the Forverts newspaper for 14 years. He runs the blog Yiddish Song of the Week featuring rare field recordings for the Center for Traditional Music and Dance.

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Klezmer flutist and multi-instrumentalist Adrianne Greenbaum teaches through her fusion of historical sensibilities, dance, theory, old recordings and texts. Focusing on the revival of the flute in klezmer, she performs and teaches throughout the US, presenting master classes at universities and flute conferences and is also on the faculties of Klezkanada and Klezmerquerque.

For over 30 years bassist Jim Guttmann has performed in a wide range of venues from smokey dives to Carnegie Hall. He joined the Klezmer Conservatory Band at its inception in 1980 and as a member of the band has performed and recorded with Itzhak Perlman and Joel Grey. In addition to working with KCB he is currently performing klezmer music with Andy Statman, Alicia Svigals' Klezmer Fiddle Express.

Miriam Isaacs specializes in Yiddish language and researches Jewish sociolinguistics and Yiddish culture as a tool of identity and empowerment. She has explored the uses of Yiddish language among contemporary Hasidim and has recently written on the works of dramatist Peretz Hirschbein. She has also written on Yiddish culture in the Displaced Person's camps in postwar Germany. Dr. Isaacs has been teaching Jewish Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, since 1995. Her teaching includes basic Yiddish language and literature in the original and in translation, as well as courses on Yiddish theater and film, fantasy and the supernatural in Jewish literature and on the immigrant experience in Jewish and other literatures.

Don Jacobs is in charge of live sound and recording inside the Tanzhal. You can find out much more about him at his website: www.inconcertaudio.com. He is always happy to be a part of the Klezkamp whirligig!

Eve JochnowitzEve Jochnowitz is a culinary ethnographer, chef, baker, and Yiddish instructor at the YIVO institute. She has lectured both in the United States and abroad on food in Jewish tradition, religion, and ritual as well as food in Yiddish performance and popular culture. Ms Jochnowitz is the Chocolate Lady and writes regularly on her blog, In Mol Araan.

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Mark Kligman is the inaugural holder of the Mickey Katz Endowed Chair in Jewish Music and Professor of Ethnomusicology and Musicology at UCLA in the Herb Alpert School of Music. From 1994-2014 he was on the faculty of Hebrew Union College’s Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music. He specializes in the liturgical traditions of Middle Eastern Jewish communities and various areas of popular Jewish music. He was awarded a 2009 Jordan Schnitzer Book Award Notable Selection for Maqam and Liturgy: Ritual, Music and Aesthetics of Syrian Jews in Brooklyn (Wayne State University, 2009). Mark is the Academic chair of the Jewish Music Forum, co-editor of the journal Musica Judaica, and a board member of the Association for Jewish Studies.

Bill Kornrich is a community cultural consultant, a descriptor that he dreamed up. He works with a variety of non-profit cultural organizations in the areas of organizational development, needs assessment, community partnerships, and long-range planning. He enjoys stage managing and getting people to work together. He and his wife, Yvonne, live on a ridge overlooking the Clinch River in east Tennessee.

Marilyn LernerJazz pianist/improviser Marilyn Lerner performs to acclaim internationally, from her native Montreal to Havana, from Jerusalem to Amsterdam and the Ukraine. She has deeply explored traditional and free jazz, new music tinged improvisation, and Ashkenazic folk music.  Lerner has appeared with Tito Puente, Gerry Hemingway, and Steve Lacy. In the New Jewish music scene, she performs with  Frank London, Alicia Svigals and David Wall. Lerner also conducts workshops on improvisation and on Jewish music in North America, Europe and the former Soviet Union. Her prolific recordings include Lerner/Filiano/Grassi Live in Madrid, (Cadence records) with bassist Ken Filiano and drummer Lou Grassi, Ugly Beauties Trio with cellist Matt Brubeck (yes, Dave’s son) and drummer Nick Fraser. She records and tours with the Dutch based avant-garde  Ig Henneman Sextet, with Axel Dörner, Wilbert de Joode, Lori Freedman and Ab Baars. Marilyn is also a practicing psychotherapist and an analyst in training at the Toronto Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis.

A familiar presence at KlezKamp since 1986, Susan Leviton brings her depth of knowledge, engaging teaching style, and infectious enthusiasm to all things Yiddish. She's an accomplished singer and calligraphic artist who travels as a performing artist-in-residence, sharing Yiddish culture and contemporary Jewish arts. Susan works her magic on commissioned artworks which range from greeting cards and ketubot to large scale wall art for synagogues, JCC's, and independent living centers. Whether in song or visual arts, her work is rooted in tradition and reaches forward to stretch the imagination.

Frank London is a founding member of The Klezmatics, with whom he won a Grammy Award for Wonder Wheel  (Lyrics by Woody Guthrie), and scored the Peter Forgacs video installation Postcards from Afar for the Museum of the History of Jews in Poland and the YIVO. He leads his own Klezmer Brass All Stars and the Shekhinah Big Band, composed the folk-opera, A Night in the Old Marketplace, and the symphonic oratorio, 1001 Voices, A Symphony for A New America; played with performers from Youssou N'Dour to Lester Bowie and David Byrne. Recent projects include Brass Khazones with trumpeter Steven Bernstein, and a bhangra-Yiddish mashup party band featuring Deep Singh, Manu Narayan, Jeremiah Lockwood, Sarah Gordon and others. He likes to make interesting, fun music with fun, interesting people.

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Ken MaltzKen Maltz a founding member of Kapelye, the pioneering Klezmer band, has performed in hundreds of appearances on stage, television, radio and film throughout North America, Central America and Europe and is known throughout the world as a leading figure in the Klezmer revival. In addition to his career as a performer, he has composed musical scores and sound effects for Bantam Doubleday Dell audio books, including the popular Star Wars series, which features his music alongside that of Oscar-winning composer John Williams.

Zach MayerZach Mayer leads a seven-piece Jazz/Rock/Funk band, titled The Zach Mayer Band, for which he composes, arranges, and sings his original songs. He tours the U.S. playing baritone saxophone with EMEFE, an eleven-piece Afrobeat band led by the drummer of the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, Miles Arntzen. Zach manages and performs with the Ayn Sof Arkestra, a sixteen-piece, neo-Klezmer avant garde professional big band, featuring Frank London and tenor saxophonist Greg Wall. He also plays baritone sax in Zion 80, a Jewish Afro-beat band blending the music of Shlomo Carlebach and Fela Kuti. He has performed with John Zorn, and plays with GRAMMY Award-winner Frank London in the Shekhina Big Band. Zach founded the City College Klezmer Band and has been on the faculty of KlezKanada for eight years, instructing and arranging an ensemble of twenty-six teenagers. He attended the Rimon Conservatory of Music in Tel Aviv, Israel, and is a recent graduate of the BFA program at CCNY for Jazz performance. Zach has performed at the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, Poland (www.jewishfestival.pl), Ashkenaz Festival in Toronto (www.ashkenazfestival.com/), and at the KlezKanada Music Festival in Lantier, Quebec (www.klezkanada.org). He regularly performs at NYC venues including The Highline Ballroom, The Bitter End, The Stone, and Sullivan Hall.

Sherry Mayrent came to her first KlezKamp in 1987, an accomplished clarinetist in styles other than klezmer. Within a few years, she transitioned from student to apprentice to Staff in 1995 and in 2001, as the Associate Director of Living Traditions and KlezKamp. Her KlezKamp experience led to her becoming the clarinetist and musical director of the Wholesale Klezmer band, the Western Massachusetts ensemble she joined in 1990. She recently left that group to concentrate her energies on the Living Traditions Online Sound Archive, of which she is co-director. She is also a record producer and a prolific composer of traditional klezmer tunes, and has published several books of klezmer charts, as well as creating a volume of traditional klezmer styles for PG Music's auto-accompaniment program, "Band in a Box." Her passion for traditional Yiddish culture is equaled only by her passion for traditional Hawaiian culture.

Dan Peck has been Operations Director for KlezKamp for the last 24 years and is the creator of the Epes Center. He is an old-time musician who has worked for many years at traditional music festivals and is on the board of the Charlie Poole Music Festival in Eden, North Carolina as well as a member of the Buck Mountain Band from Grayson County, Virginia. He designs cataloguing databases for the work of artists including Andy Warhol, Willem DeKooning and Richard Serra. He is also a published photographer and author of books on database programming and digital photography. www.danpeck.com

Sarah Plant Film composer, flutist and keyboardist Sarah Plant scores features, documentaries and multi-media museum installations. She worked on Ang Lee's Oscar-nominated feature Eat Drink Man Woman and has composed for PBS, ITVS, Bravo, Canal+ (France), CBC (Canada), Hallmark, the Center for Asian American Media, and for Spanish, Swiss and other European TV. Sarah composed a commission for Bill T. Jones Dance Company and has scored American Museum of Natural History biodiversity films. She has received awards/grants from ASCAP, the NEA and the American Music Center. She is former Music Editor of Sing Out! magazine, and specializes in music from around the world. www.sarahplantmusic.com

Ethel RaimEthel Raim is the Artistic Director of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance and is widely recognized for her expertise in both Yiddish and Balkan vocal traditions. She has had a distinguished 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 singing were instrumental in seeding numerous women's vocal ensembles across America. She pioneered the teaching of Balkan singing in the US in the late 60s, and has taught nationally and internationally ever since. Since 2010, Raim has specialized in teaching traditional unaccompanied Yiddish singing, conducting annual advanced singing workshops at Yiddish Summer Weimar through 2012, and, in 2013, was invited to teach traditional unaccompanied Yiddish singing at KlezKanada. She is internationally acclaimed as a master teacher and an expert on the vocal traditions in which she specializes.

Eleanor ReissaEleanor Reissa Yiddish and English director, singer, actor, playwright, poet, adventurer. Tony award nomination. Loves coaching, collaborating with the talented musicians and artists she has encountered. Most recent work: singing with Eleanor Reissa and Di Boyess, Frank London and the Klezmer Brass All Stars; writing/directing a musical for Yiddishpiel in Israel; acting in CBS show, "Unforgettable."

Jenny Romaine is a founding member of Obie/Bessie winning Great Small Works theater collective, music director/ring performer in Circus Amok, and a member of the Folksbiene Yiddish Theater's Kids and Yiddish Crew. Romaine collaborates with an intergenerational army of artists committed to keeping new Yiddish theater at the heart of social life.

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Henry "Hank" Sapoznik is a four-time Grammy nominated record producer, radio documentarian, author and performer of traditional Yiddish and American music. He won a 2002 Peabody award for his 10 week National Public Radio series "The Yiddish Radio Project" and was nominated for an Emmy for his score to the documentary film "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg." He is a producer for Time-Life Music and is currently working on establishing a National Banjo Museum.

Binyumen (Ben) Schaechter is an award-winning composer of musicals, revue and cabaret songs, represented off-Broadway by Double Identity, and four revues: Naked Boys Singing, the 4th longest-running show in off-Broadway history; Pets! (Dramatic Publishing); That's Life! (Outer Critics Circle nomination); and Too Jewish? (Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations; also seen on PBS). He is Conductor of the acclaimed Yiddish-singing 50-voice Jewish People's Philharmonic Chorus (TheJPPC.org), and Musical Director/Arranger/Proud father of Di Shekhter-tekhter (YiddishSisters.com)—the world-travelling all-Yiddish sister duo, and the subject of a recent documentary film/concert video, When Our Bubbas and Zeydas Were Young: The Schaechter Sisters on Stage, now available on DVD (JewishVideo.com).

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Peter Sokolow has had a career in Jewish music, commercial music, and traditional jazz that has spanned over fifty years; he has done more than 10,000 jobs in that time. He has performed with many famous klezmer and jazz players, toured Europe and the U.S. several times, orchestrated three Jewish shows and more than thirty recordings, and appeared in or arranged for several TV "specials"and documentary films. He is the author or co-author of books on klezmer and articles about the klezmer scene, and has lectured extensively. He has taught at KlezKamp since its inception.

Vera Sokolow's connection to Jewish textile art began with membership in the Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Needlework and flourished after she crocheted her first yarmulke, designing a keyboard motif for her husband, Peter. Using a multiplicity of hand and machine techniques (e.g. quilting, applique and embroidery), she has since produced challah covers, Purim napkins, more yarmulkes, kittels, shofar bags, wall hangings and several chuppahs.

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An internationally acclaimed klezmer violinist and teacher, Deborah Strauss is a member of the Strauss/Warschauer Duo and was a long-time member of the Klezmer Conservatory Band and the Chicago Klezmer Ensemble.

Paula Teitelbaum is a singer and Yiddish teacher, and has been on Klezkamp staff for many years. Her singing has been featured on the recordings Vaserl, Zumerteg, Fli,Fli, Mayn Flishlang, and on the soundtrack of the documentary film Image Before My Eyes. Together with Lorin Sklamberg she co-produced the cd Di Grine Katshke/The Green Duck, which features her singing as well. Paula has taught at the YIVO Summer Intensive Yiddish Program, and has worked as an English as a Second Language and Spanish teacher at John Bowne High School in Queens, NY.

Jeff Warschauer is internationally renowned as a mandolinist, guitarist, singer and teacher. He is on the faculty at Columbia University, and is a Founding Artistic Director and Senior Artistic Advisor of KlezKanada. Jeff is one half of the Strauss/Warschauer Duo, and was a long-time member of the Klezmer Conservatory Band. Jeff speaks Yiddish, and has researched and collected Yiddish and Hebrew songs and instrumental melodies since the mid-1980s. He is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, and has studied Jewish culture, languages, and religion at the Conservative Yeshiva, Oxford University, Columbia University, the University of Haifa and Tufts University. He is pursuing graduate study in Cantorial music and Modern Jewish Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary. www.klezmerduo.com

Elaine Hoffman Watts is a third-generation klezmer musician, scion of the great Philadelphia Hoffman family of klezmorim. The first woman percussionist to be accepted at Curtis Institute, from which she graduated in 1954, Watts has performed and taught for more than forty years, working in symphonies, theaters, and schools. Despite her skills and family heritage, when she was young Ms. Watts was seldom given opportunities to perform by klezmer bands, from the 1940s on: they didn't want to employ a girl, even Jacob Hoffman's daughter. Ms. Watts began performing klezmer actively again with her daughter Susan Watts. She is a 2007 recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellowship Award.

Susan Watts represents the youngest generation of a Klezmer dynasty that reaches back to the Jewish Ukraine of the 19th century, beginning with her great grandfather, bandleader Joseph Hoffman. She works and records with a range of talented musicians including her mother Elaine Hoffman Watts, Frank London and the Klezmer Brass All-Stars, Mikveh, anad the KlezDispensers.

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Steve Weintraub is a teacher, choreographer, and performer specializing in Jewish dance. He received his training with Alvin Ailey and Erick Hawkins, and danced for Felix Fibich. He teaches Yiddish dance workshops internationally, leads dancing at Simchas, and collaborated on Hopkele, a cd of music especially for dancing

Laura Wernick is a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan's Joint Doctoral Program in Social Work and Political Science. She is currently working on her dissertation on social justice philanthropy and young donor organizing. More specifically, she is exploring the role of young people with wealth in social justice movements.

Marilla Wex came to Klezkamp for the first time in 2000 and seemingly never left. An award-winning actress and comedian she also moonlights as a child wrangler and writes a short play every year for the Klezkids with the help of her scary genius husband Michael who provides the Yiddish content. Co-directing the children's program with Sarah Gordon every December is the highlight of her year.

Author of Born to Kvetch and Just Say Nu, an overnight sensation at 52, Michael Wex has been teaching at KlezKamp longer than anyone cares to remember. Novelist, playwright, lecturer, performer and authority on language and literature, Wex has been called "a Yiddish National Treasure" and "the finest translator around."

Clarinetist Michael Winograd is based in Brooklyn, NY and has taught and performed internationally. He has played with Frank London, Alicia Svigals, Socalled, Joe Morris, Kenny Wollesen, and Jenny Romaine to name a few. Michael's favorite color is purple and he enjoys kreplekh and green tea on the weekends.

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