About us

Klezmer Klub started in 1989 when Tim Israel got together with Gabriel Ellenberg and Adina Presman to play through some klezmer tunes. Wanting the sound of a full klezmer band, they invited some of their friends to join them, and so Klezmer Klub was born.

Klezmer is, at its heart, dance music, wedding music, both wild and tender. Played by the Klezmorim as they tramped the roads of eastern Europe it is a music that gets to your heart by way of your feet. Often described as bitter-sweet, it came out of poverty and oppression. Both dances and song contain joy, exhilaration and wit alongside the sadness, anger and defiance.

Freylekhs, bulgars, horas, hongas, sers – these are thumping dance tunes that would have been played at 'simkhes' (celebrations) in Eastern European 'shtetls' (Jewish villages) for hundreds of years.  Whilst respecting the tradition, the bitter-sweet sound that is klezmer, we bring them to life from our own perspective of modern day life in London, with all the inter-cultural mixing that goes with it.

The songs are sung in Yiddish, the language of the Jews in Eastern Europe. Vivi Lachs, our singer, has collected her own unique repertoire of songs, which cover a wide variety of themes: love songs, political anthems and union songs, music hall comedy, songs from film and theatre, and songs about working class life in London’s Leicester Square, Whitechapel and Victoria Park.  A great performer, Vivi animates them all with explanations, costume and character.

Not long into the life of Klezmer Klub we forged a (still ongoing) long-term relationship with the liberal Jewish community Beit Klal Yisrael. The BKY Rabbi, Sheila Shulman, has become a true friend of the band. In 1998 she wrote the following words for the liner notes of our first CD:

"For about eight years the Klezmer Klub have been at the heart of our community celebrations. getting people on their feet dancing with the scrolls on Simchat Torah, or at weddings, or at community parties. They were always good, but over the years they’ve become stronger, ever more exuberant, more musically sophisticated. They are bursting at the seams with a kind of generosity of heart, with true klezmer wildness. Their music is altogether a delight to the soul (and to the feet)." Rabbi Sheila Shulman – Beit Klal Yisrael.