is the recipient of the prestigious Weimar Prize in 2016, co-founder and chair of Other Music Academy e.V. and creator and artistic director of Yiddish Summer Weimar and Winter Edition. He is a composer/arranger, pianist, accordionist, educator, cultural activist and philosopher.
In 2017, Bern was honored with the Thuringia Order of Merit.
He is co-founder and director of "Brave Old World," founder and director of "The Other Europeans" and "Diaspora Redux," and he also performs with Bern, Brody & Rodach and with Guy Klucevsek.
His education included classical piano with Paul Badura-Skoda and Leonard Shure, jazz with Karl Berger, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Anthony Braxton and others, contemporary music with John Cage, Frederic Rzewski, Joel Hoffman and others, and philosophy and cognitive science with Dan Dennett. He received his master's degree in philosophy and his doctorate in music composition.
In 2009, he was given the Ruth Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as a musician and educator and achievement with "Brave Old World".
Photo: Yulia Kabakova
Andreas Schmitges is a musician, musicologist, dance leader, cultural manager, artistic consultant, workshop instructor and researcher, primarily in the field of Yiddish music culture. He studied jazz guitar at the Cologne University of Music before taking up the mandolin, and has authored several scholarly essays on Yiddish music and dance.
Andreas has been affiliated with Yiddish Summer and the Other Music Academy since the very beginning, and is happy and proud to be able to contribute to the development of Other Music Academy e.V. as a member of the board. He is the Curator of YSW and the Project Manager and initiator of many OMA projects, including the Kadya Youth Choir, Triangle Orchestra and Caravan Orchestra.
Additionally, he is currently a research associate and project coordinator at the UNESCO Chair on Transcultural Music Studies at the University of Music FRANZ LISZT Weimar.
Photo: Shendl Copitman Kovnatskiy
Johannes Paul Gräßer
Johannes is the production manager of Yiddish Summer Weimar and coordinates the Other Music Academy office. He also designs and produces events, concerts and seminars that aim to convey the richness and variety of Yiddish culture. His main concern as a musician and project manager is the preservation and development of Yiddish culture.
Photo: Shendl Copitman Kovnatskiy
Mother, friend and companion. Someone who keeps things rolling. Project manager. Dedicated decaf drinker. Katrin is all these things and more: she is also the person responsible for the renovation of the Other Music Academy building and other OMA projects, working behind-the-scenes for Yiddish Summer and standing in for the chairman of the board when he happens to be away;-).
Photo: Pierre Kamin
Katrin has been devoted to the festival and the Other Music Academy heart and soul since 2002, when, fresh from school, she attended what was then still the Weimar Klezmer Weeks. She served as a founding board member of the Other Music Academy until 2013, after which she assumed various functions within the festival management. She studied art history, psychology and modern history at the Friedrich-Schiller-University in Jena and works as cultural manager for various cultural associations and projects.
Photo: Jörn Ziller
This is Birgit’s first year on the Yiddish Summer administrative and financial management team. She spent many years working as a cultural manager for German cultural associations in southern Africa and is looking forward to sharing her experience with the Other Music Academy team. A creative person, she enjoys providing new ideas and impulses, tackling problems big or small with words and deeds and, every now and then, philosophizing about life. She is active in promoting African artists, especially dancers, musicians and visual artists.
A creative all-rounder and member of the Other Music Academy e.V. management team, Sabrina is actually a typical humanities scholar with creative ambitions and a passion for cultural events. She works as financial manager for Yiddish Summer Weimar but is also good at solving HTML or computer related problems… and at making coffee. This year, she will face a new challenge as she tackles her new job as a full-time mom – meaning she will soon be dealing more with diapers than with hypotheses and supporting evidence.
Photo: Antonia Ramljak
Sabine first came to Yiddish Summer Weimar as a social and cultural volunteer at the Other Music Academy e.V. and is now with us for the third time. She has a background in musicology and cultural management and is responsible for the festival’s social media presence; she is also an expert in scanning databases.
Photo: Antonia Ramljak
Ben does translations and international press relations for the Other Music Academy e.V. He grew up in the US and Israel. After earning a BA in percussion at the Jerusalem Rubin Academy of Music in 2003, he shifted his focus to the realm of literature and completed an MA in creative writing at Bar-Ilan University in 2011. From 2009, he worked as a freelance journalist for the Jerusalem Report, focusing on topics relating to contemporary Jewish culture. In 2016 he moved to Berlin where, in addition to his work as a writer, editor and translator, he studies and performs on the balafon, a traditional West African xylophone.
I come from Orange, NSW in Australia and I’ve lived in Weimar since 2017. I’ve been working at the OMA since the end of 2018. Starting with the Thursday night concerts, I’ve taken on more and more responsibilities. Currently, I’m the Events Manager for Yiddish Summer Weimar and the Artistic Director of the ‘Come Closer’ jazz festival at the OMA.
I studied Jazz and New Music in Melbourne and at the Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt in Weimar. I’m very politically engaged in building a fairer, more tolerant world and I’m always looking for ways to combine my social and artistic passions. Working in the context of OMA/YSW provides a rare opportunity for me to do so.
I’m very interested in music from the African diaspora, electroacoustic music, live-coding and spectral music. I sit on the Weimar Foreigner’s Committee and I'm a member of the organization WE United. I’m especially interested in the issues of gender identity, decolonization, optimism and overcoming neoliberal capitalism.
Hi, I'm Anna, I come from Grudziądz in Poland and I've been living in Germany since 2009. I studied translation and my passion is Jewish Studies. I’m a long-term YSW groupie and now I’m a Project Manager for the OMA. When I first came to the YSW as a volunteer in the summer of 2012, it was love at first sight and I have been returning ever since. My heart beats for YSW, most of all for the people who create it and make it happen every year.
In the summer of 2019, I coordinated my first project - the Triangle Orchestra, a multinational music project with young classically trained musicians and singers from Poland, France and Germany. The project aim was the creation and premiere performance of a fully-orchestrated version of an almost forgotten masterpiece, the only surviving Yiddish opera "Bas Sheve.” All in all, it was one of my most beautiful and extremely fulfilling professional experiences. The following year, in response to the Corona pandemic, YSW took place entirely open air, and my role was volunteer and event support. This year I am very glad to be back and I’m looking forward to our new team and upcoming challenges.
As a former social volunteer of the Other Music Academy e.V. Alessa could already support the YSW twice. After her voluntary year, she started studying economics in Jena.
In the context of YSW 2021, she is once again supervising the workshop participants and is looking forward to being there for a third time.
Photo: Sarijana Lengefeld
Antonia or Toni, as everyone calls her, studies geography in Jena and is very happy to support the YSW for the fourth time this year. Originally she was a social volunteer at the OMA and since then she can't tear herself away. This year she is responsible for the Infopoint and for the participant support. You will probably find her at the Infopoint most of the time. Toni also listens to music all the time and therefore often has headphones in her ears. If she doesn't hear you, just give her a quick wave!
Photo: Larissa Starke
Hey, I'm Laura and I'm studying Religious Studies and German Studies in Erfurt. I came to Yiddish Summer Weimar through religious studies, and now I am doing an internship.
Before I started my studies, I did a developmental volunteer service in Namibia and worked in a children's and youth center. Even today I am still very much involved with Namibia, the country´s history and culture. Apart from that, I am active in the student council and responsible for the social media work there.
I am very excited about my time at YSW and look forward to the festival, to many new experiences and encounters.
studied Visual Communication and worked in a Tokyo design agency before coming to Berlin, where she studied at the Hochschule der Künste (today the Universität der Künste). After obtaining her degree in 1993, she worked as an artist on sound and site installations and also as a freelance graphic designer.
Since 2010, she has been responsible for the visual image of Yiddish Summer, Other Music Academy and Other Music Academy e.V., including internet presence, posters, t-shirts and more. She has long been interested in Yiddish dance and has given workshops on the subject in Japan at "Osaka University" and "Japanese‐Jewish Friendship and Study Society in Kobe."
Since 2006, she's been a member of the Berlin-based dance ensemble "TarantaScalza" (Tarantella – traditional Southern Italian dance) with whom she has performed at many festivals.
Photo: Shendl Copitman Kovnatskiy