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Promotional graphic for Into the Light with image of Alan Bern

Berlin-based Klezmer composer latest Musician-In-Residence

Desautels Faculty of Music welcomes Alan Bern

Alan Bern is the newest Musician-In-Residence at the Desautels Faculty of Music at the University of Manitoba. Bern will work with students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the public from November 12 – 25 2022.

Alan Bern’s visit to Winnipeg is generously supported by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany (Ottawa). The various public lectures, screenings, and concerts are produced collaboratively by the University of Manitoba’s Desautels Faculty of Music, the Peace and Conflict Studies Graduate Programs, and the German and Slavic Studies Department, with the organizational support of the Arthur V. Mauro Institute for Peace & Justice at St. Paul’s College and the Rady Jewish Community Centre. Additional funding has been generously provided through the UM Conference Sponsorship Program.

Alan Bern is an American composer, pianist, accordionist, educator and cultural activist. He has earned international recognition for his work as a musician, band leader and co-founder of American/German klezmer band Brave New World, and is the founder of Diaspora Redux, The Other Europeans and the Semer Ensemble, among others. A prolific composer, musician and researcher, Bern has released numerous recordings, films and publications and is renowned for his contributions to the research, dissemination and creative renewal of Jewish music. The founding artistic director of Yiddish Summer Weimar and the Other Music Academy (OMA), Bern is responsible for the creation of Present-Time Composition, an approach to music education informed by cognitive science that integrates the methods of improvisation and composition.

Part of Bern’s work is on the Semer project, which is dedicated to music recorded by Jewish artists who recorded at the Berlin-based Semer record label that was destroyed in 1938 by the Nazis. The recordings were all thought to be destroyed until they were rediscovered in the early 2000s.

Bern has been the recipient of numerous awards for his major cultural contributions, including the Weimar Prize in 2016, the Order of Merit of the Free State of Thuringia in 2017, and the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2022.

“[Alan Bern] is an extraordinary musician and we are incredibly grateful to have him here with us,” says Laura Loewen, Associate Dean of Desautels Faculty of Music Undergraduate Programs.

“It is a rare delight to be in the presence of an artist who is as passionate and devoted to their work as he is, and I hope concert attendees come away inspired and invigorated by his love of music.”

Alan Bern will be offering a series of public lectures, film and musical performances, culminating in performance at the Berney Theatre on November 20. All members of the public and UM community are encouraged to attend.



12:30 – 1:20 pm

EVA CLARE HALL, (65 Dafoe Road)

Why Yiddish Music Matters

A whirlwind tour from the origins of Yiddish language and culture 1000 years ago in the Rhineland (Germany) to New Yiddish Music, one of the fastest developing, most creative musical streams in the world today.



12:00 – 1:00 pm

Rm 225, St. Paul’s College

“It was a beautiful, summer day…”: the Shoah and New Yiddish Song

Many Yiddish songs created during the Shoah express astonishment that radical evil was taking place in the midst of “normal” and even “beautiful” life. How can artists of today grapple with this and countless other shocking aspects of the Shoah that resist comprehension?



12:30 – 1:20 pm

EVA CLARE HALL, (65 Dafoe Road)

The Hasidic Nign – a Community “Soul” Music for the Heart and Body

The nign is a musical vehicle for reaching ecstasy by drawing on the innermost resources of the heart, mind and body and raising them to a shared, communal experience. Learn about its origins and philosophy and experience it yourself in this hands-on lecture.




2:30 – 4:00 pm


The New Klezmorim: Voices Inside the Revival of Yiddish Music

Documentary Film Screening and Interview with Director David Kaufman | Performance by Desautels Klezmer Group – students from the Desautels Faculty of Music, with Alan Bern and Myron Schultz | Reception to follow | Free admission – tickets via Eventbrite:



12:30 – 1:20 pm EVA CLARE HALL, University of Manitoba (65 Dafoe Road)

Final Term Student Performances

The final term Chamber Music student performances will include a performance by the Desautels Klezmer Group under the direction of Alan Bern. The Klezmer performance will be 10-15 minutes of the overall program.

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