Portland Klezmer Festival

Thanks to all who attended the 2023 Portland Klezmer Festival, held Nov. 2 – 5! We had a great turnout, creating a wonderful celebration of klezmer music and Yiddish culture.

See the schedule below for a look at all the different concerts, workshops and more that took place in 2023, and check back here for updates on 2024! 

2023 Schedule

thursday, Nov. 2

opening night concert and jam

7:30 pm (jamming at 9:30 pm)

Friday, nov. 3

nigun session

Led by cantor Aaron Vitells
All are welcome to come and sing with us to welcome Shabbes! Please come with a nigun to lead if you would like.
Suggested donation $10
Soma Space (4050 NE Broadway) 

7:00 pm

Saturday, nov. 4

kids workshop

With Michelle Alany
Come and learn a Klezmer tune with us! In this special session for young music students, Michelle will teach a klezmer melody by ear in a way that everyone can learn and enjoy. All ages are welcome. Some experience on a melody instrument is suggested.
Pacific Crest Community School
(116 NE 29th Ave.) 

2:00 - 3:15 PM

Evening concert

Featuring Brivele and New Fidl Kapelye (klezmer SUPERGROUP with Jake Shulman-Ment, Abigale Reisman, Pete Rushefsky, and Stu Brotman)
Sliding scale $15-$22
Eastside Jewish Commons (2420 NE Sandy Blvd) 

7:30 PM

Sunday, nov. 5

All Sunday events take place at Eastside Jewish Commons (2420 NE Sandy Blvd) 

workshop: klezmer off the page (and into your heart)

With Eric Stern

Tarras, Alpert, Netsky, Bressler: You’ve seen all the klezmer greats, and most of the time their eyes are not glued to a page of music. Are you a musician who knows how to read music but always wondered how to lift the music off the page and make it your own? Are you even nervous or scared to play without written music? Then this workshop is for you! The workshop will demonstrate how one can create their voice in a klezmer ensemble using the principles of jazz, improvisation, and even basic listening. Participants will learn to use klezmer modes, rhythms, backings, and will even taksim (solo). Workshop leader Eric Stern is the founder of Vagabond Opera, a world acclaimed ensemble that played not only klezmer, but Balkan, Arabic, jazz and original pieces. He believes in simultaneously nurturing students while holding out expectation. He will hold your hand every step of the way.

This class is for people who have at least an advanced-beginner level of skill on their instrument.

1:00 - 2:15 PM


With Jake Shulman-Ment

In this class for singers and instrumentalists alike, we will focus on Yiddish folk songs and Hasidic nigunim. We’ll explore the connections between Yiddish vocal styles and klezmer, working on building rhetorical meaning in our musical phrasing and rhythmic sense. Learn to sing in Yiddish using your voice, your instrument, or both!

1:00 - 2:15 PM

workshop: a master class on the klezmer feel

With Stuart Brotman

Melody and rhythm players are invited to learn from a veteran of the klezmer revival movement. Stu will demonstrate accompaniment approach choices and explore any questions that come up. An invaluable opportunity to gain insight into the way a klezmer grooves!

1:00 - 2:15 PM

workshop: the art of the doina

With Abigale Reisman

Learn to improvise a traditional doina! In this class, we will learn the very exacting rules that a beautiful doina is born from. We will learn music theory about the melody creation and listen and analyze early recordings of doinas. Everyone will get a chance to improvise and/or write a doina. The doina is a wonderful place to express oneself through klezmer music and in this class we will aim to do just that!

2:30 - 3:45 PM

klez jam!

With Pete Rushefsky

Play alongside the pros in a fun facilitated jam session. Bring your favorite tunes to share, and learn some new ones. We’ll pause every now and then to share tips aimed at improving everyone’s playing.

2:30 - 3:45 PM

Changes and Progressions: Making the Present from the Past in Jewish Music and Culture

Panel discussion with Rabbi Josh Rose and Visiting Artists

Rabbi Josh Rose (Co/Lab: Reimagine Jewish) will host a conversation with Jake Shulman-Ment, Michelle Alany, and Eric Stern about Klezmer’s past and present, how Jewish music absorbs influences from the broader culture, and what Jewish creativity owes the past. 

3:45 PM

Final Concert and Dance Party

Featuring Michelle Alany and the MysticsNew Fidl Kapelye, Yankl Falk, and more!
Sliding scale $15-$22

7:30 PM (music),
8:30 pm (dance party)

All Sunday events take place at Eastside Jewish Commons (2420 NE Sandy Blvd) 

2023 Performers

Jake Shulman-Ment and The New Fidl Kapelye

Violinists Jake Shulman-Ment and Abigale Reisman, bassist Stuart Brotman, and tsimbalist Pete Rushefsky are each among the most highly regarded klezmer performers of their generations. They combine forces to present a virtuosic and energetic journey through raucous dance tunes, meditative listening music, original compositions, and new settings of Yiddish poetry. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to experience this special collaboration celebrating the rich heritage of Jewish musical culture!



Brivele is a Seattle-based trio who braid together Yiddish song, anti-fascist and labor balladry, folk-punk, and contemporary rabble-rousing in three part harmony.

In Yiddish, Brivele (בריוועלע) means “little letter.” Our songs are love letters to diaspora, sent through time and over borders.


Michelle Alany and the Mystics

Michelle Alany and the Mystics is a fiddle-driven musical feast of Mediterranean and Eastern European-inspired folk and original music. The band brings together players that share years of international touring, cross-cultural collaborations and depth of musicianship. It features captivating Sephardic (Judeo-Spanish), Balkan and Klezmer original and traditional melodies, sharing songs as cultural vehicles for celebrating differences and similarities. The players bring mesmerizing and celebratory sounds of clarinet, accordion, percussion and strings. The band will bring fresh renderings of ancient melodies, hypnotic strings and passionate improvisation that will delight your senses, commune with your ancestors and stir your soul. 

Sephardic, Balkan and riginal soul music, with Mediterranean sensibilities.


The Bieszczady Mountain Boys

Playing the old-time klezmer music of the Outer Carpathians, Andrew Ehrlich and Martin Morgenbesser are the Bieszczady Mountain Boys, sharing the soulful sounds of their ancestors from Southeast Poland and surrounding regions. Andrew (on fiddle) and Martin (on accordion) have been shpieling such tunes together for the past 30 years. So come set a spell, sing along, tap your toes, or get up and dance, and help us put the Bubbie back in Bubbaville.

Eric Stern

Accordionist and multi-instrumentalist Eric Stern tells stories with music. He has appeared on NPR and performed at the Kennedy Center, The Great American Music Hall and internationally, from Portland to Paris to Poland. He is best known for being the founder and artistic director of Vagabond Opera, an ensemble that has achieved worldwide success. In 2010, he composed the critically acclaimed opera “Queen Of Knives” and in 2014 the opera “Flour Salt and Moonbeams.” Other composing credits include original music for the Portland Revels, Echo Theater, Tears of Joy Theater as well as writing and arranging for Vagabond Opera ensemble and other projects. Eric is Jewish and is a passionate lover and advocate of the Yiddish language. 


“Yankl” Falk's Carpathian-Pacific Express

The Carpathian-Pacific Express brings together some of Portland’s finest indie musicians (3 Leg Torso, Blue Cranes, Klezmocracy) in an exciting new exploration of klezmer and Yiddish song, Romanian and Hungarian fiddle virtuosity, devotional Hasidic melody, American roots music, and much more! Our repertoire draws from the Yiddish/Hungarian-speaking world of our grandparents, with echoes from across the Carpathians and elsewhere. Featuring Yankl Falk (vocals/clarinet), Courtney von Drehle (accordion/sax), Andrew Ehrlich (violin), Ralph Huntley (keyboards), and Ji Tanzer (percussion).


2023 Sponsors

The 2023 Event Poster