It all started at a gig in aid of Paces, the charity supporting families supporting children with cerebral palsy, at Sheffield University in 2011. All the performers that evening were experienced klezmorim, and six of them went on to become Zhok Hora. They are, in no particular order:
Ray Kohn, aka Ray Kohn, violin, composer and arranger. Ray trained as a classical violinist in the 1960s, and led orchestras and performed chamber works as well as leading folk bands up until the 1970s. Finding klezmer more natural, he began teaching klezmer workshops in 1987 and has been a regular klezmer fiddler ever since. His musical career has included pioneering innovative music-making education programmes for adults with severe learning difficulties whilst teaching, conducting and leading orchestral classes. He teaches klezmer violin improvisation techniques and is proud to be a member of the outstanding klezmer band, Zhok Hora.
Dr Lindsay Aitkenhead, aka The Great Lindzini, viola and ethnomusicologist. Lindsay started playing klezmer in the 1990s and was a founder member of the story-telling band Tashbain, along with Richard Neale and Jo Veal. She was musical director of the Cabaret of Dr Caligari with Artizani Street Theatre Company, a marvellous show that included an outdoor klezmer ceilidh. Lindsay teaches violin, viola and piano and enjoys playing the double bass for fun! She loves klezmer greatly enjoys playing with Zhok Hora.
Ian Stern, aka Israel Sternblitz, guitar. Israel has been playing in klezmer bands since 1986 for simchas and Jewish style festivals, and grew up listening to Jewish music of all kinds. He has also been known to sing the occasional Yiddish song and loves the klezmer dance tradition. Israel was a founder and stalwart member of the Sheffield Spielers, before being kidnapped by Zhok Hora and forced to abandon his music stand.
Dave Westbrook, accordion. Dave is an actor, accordionist and pianist. His work as musical director includes original songs and arrangements for many projects including local companies such as Compass Theatre Company (The Tempest and Dr Faustus) and Cottongrass Theatre Company (Twelfth Night and Thin Air). His first encounter with an accordion was in the early nineties when he devised and played incidental music and songs for Compass Theatre’s Woyzeck. He now plays accordion and piano with Sheffield band Southbound and teaches music from home. He started playing klezmer after attending Kleznorth in Youlgreave a few years ago and is delighted to be playing with Zhok Hora.
Jo Veal, clarinet. Jo started playing klezmer music in the 1990s in Tashbain, along with Lindsay and Richard. She is also a saxophonist, and has recently acquired a set of bagpipes! Jo plays widely in the folk music world, with nationally acclaimed ceilidh band Hekety, French folk dance trio Outre Manche, gipsy ska band Bell Hagg Orkestar and with storyteller Shonaleigh. Jo teaches workshops in clarinet, klezmer, and playing for dancing. Jo loves playing klezmer music so thinks it’s great to play more with Zhok Hora!
Richard Neale, aka The Rich Man, 6-string bass. Rich is an electronics genius, former astronaut and deep-sea diver. He is famous for personally excavating a huge gold mine that he owned and repulsing an attack by government forces on his own before making over his fortune to charity. He continues to enjoy still greater summits of excitement by playing with Zhok Hora!