Who's who at KlezNorth?

The KlezNorth organising group

See the KlezNorth tutors

Phil Tomlinson is an experienced singer and performer, specialising in singing and teaching Yiddish songs. Phil’s background is not Jewish, but through 40 years marriage to his wife who is from a Jewish family of Holocaust refugees, he has become ever more involved with Yiddish culture, especially music and song. Performing since the age of 7 in choirs, singing competitions, orchestras , bands, and folk clubs, over the last decade or more he has played and sung with the klezmer band The Klatsh. More recently with his group Yoyvl he has taken performances of “Mir Zaynen Do” and “Yiddish Revolutionaries” to a number of cities and towns in the Midlands. (The former consists of ghetto and Holocaust songs, the latter follows the history of the Jewish left). Phil still finds time to sing in several choirs, and play in a local rock band. Involved with Kleznorth from the beginning, Phil now chairs the KlezNorth organising group.

Andrew Gardiner is an amateur clarinettist from Edinburgh who started playing Klezmer around 12 years ago.  He works as a vet at Edinburgh University and for a while played in a Klezmer band in which four of the six members had veterinary connections!

Andrew attended several of the London Klezfests and organises a fortnightly session in Edinburgh. He plays with Simon Carlyle and Jan Waterfield in a trio, Kleyne Klezmer. He is also a veteran of Kleznorth, and now shares his knowledge and skills as a member of the organising group for KlezNorth.

Fiona Frank, a former morris dancer and English ceilidh caller, swapped her melodeon for a concertina when she decided to start playing the Klezmer music that lifted her soul.  She also calls Klezmer dances.  She works part time for the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities which sometimes involves organising Klezmer bands to tour Scotland (!).  When she’s not at work she lives in an ecological cohousing project in Lancaster, where she often cooks for 40 people, so joining the housekeeping team catering for over 100 people at Kleznorth seemed an easy task to take on.

Ian Stern is guitarist in the Sheffield-based Klezmer band Zhok Hora and has played in Klezmer bands for over 25 years.  In his spare time he is a qualified social worker and practice educator.  Ian was involved in organising the Klezmer dance and instrument workshops East of the Pennines from the 1990s and has been involved with Kleznorth for the past few years, giving talks on Jewish humour and running the film shows.  He is also a member of a Yiddish study group in Derbyshire.

Sue Cooper has been involved in the Klezmer revival for many years, playing in bands Klezmeidl (York), and Klezmic (New Mills). She also initiated, and then hosted the monthly Sunday Klezmer Sessions in New Mills for ten years. Together with Ros Hawley, Sue obtained funding for a series of workshops, concerts, ‘klezbarns’ and other events in and around Manchester building a network of klezmorim, and introducing Klezmer dance to the Northwest. Without these various events, the delight and the interest in Klezmer music, and thus the momentum for KlezNorth, would have never been stimulated.

She has attended KlezFest London most years since it’s inception, and with Adrian Dobson and Judith Plowman travelled to the Weimar Klezmer Festival to a specialist Klezmer Dance workshop. Her strong connection with her Jewish forebears strengthens her wish to explore and invigorate the many aspects of Yiddish past – the music, the history (European, American and British), the dances and the language.

Judy Sherwood comes from a background of Orthodox Judaism in which singing, dancing, and eating plays a significant role in religious practice. Although she has moved away from the religious community, she has retained a passion for these aspects of Jewish culture.

Judy’s Klezmer dancing draws inspiration from her childhood experience of the joy and spirit of Chassidic dance.

Judy feels that Jewish food should not be absent from this celebration of Jewish culture. She therefore initiated the tradition of the celebratory Saturday night meal, which she plans and cooks (along with a little help from her friends).

Judy believes that Kleznorth, being part of the international Klezmer revival, makes an important contribution in keeping alive a major aspect of Jewish culture that was almost lost in the Holocaust.

A Kleznorth veteran, Keith Lander joined the Kleznorth organising group in 2014, bringing with him his experience as an instrumentalist and music festival organiser. He has been involved in organising the national Raise Your Banners Festival of Political Song and the National Street Choir Festival.

As a drummer/percussionist, Keith grew up playing punk, graduating to samba and campaigning street bands. He currently plays in a local brass band and in Hot Aire! concert band. Keith also sings a capella in Bradford Voices and Voicemail Harmony (www.voicemailharmony.com).

Keith found Klezmer when he connected his experience of the music with his Jewish roots. Keith is the drummer/percussionist for the northern UK Klezmer band, The Klatsh.

Aisha Walker plays tuba, most usually in a Yorkshire brass band (Hall Royd Band) and in a concert band (Hot Aire!). She fell in love with Klezmer several years ago and has since attended several KlezNorth and KlezFest workshops. She is a member of the organising group and looks after the email list, website and online booking system. In her non-musical life Aisha works at Leeds University.