Caravan Application

Welcome to Caravan Orchestra & Choir 2023!

With the first edition in 2017 and only one gap year due to Corona in 2020, Caravan is now in its 6th year in bringing together young musicians from different traditions and backgrounds with the common goal of the exploration of East European Jewish and East Mediterranean and Middle Eastern music traditions. Every year, we build a learning community that relies on curiosity, transcultural experience and a general understanding of friendship and partnership. We invite you to become a member of this unique community. All instrumentalists and singers who live in Germany or Israel (independently of your nationality) are invited to apply!

What to expect from your participation in Caravan? In the summer of 2023, we will look at the connection between Yiddish (East-European Jewish) music and musics that derive from the Ottoman heritage of Greece and Turkey. We have found a wonderful shared repertoire (instrumental melodies, songs, dances) of these traditions and will study their common heritage and their own musical live in different cultures in Europe and Asia minor. We will learn a lot of music by ear and improvisation will play a major role in our music making. The faculty (see below) consists of renowned practitioners of Yiddish, Turkish, Greek and Ottoman traditions with decades of teaching expertise in projects like Caravan.

The 2023 Caravan Orchestra and Choir will take place from July 23 in the morning to August 12 in the evening (beginning date is approximate, end date is definite; stay tuned for updates). We will spend the first part of our time together in Haifa and the second part in Weimar during Yiddish Summer Weimar.

The application process has ended on May 1st, 2023. Many wonderful people have applied but we are still looking for the following instrumentalists:

– Viola & Cello
– Trumpet, Trombone & Tuba
– Accordion
– Clarinet

If you play one of these instruments and want to join Caravan 2023, then please send an email to project manager Andreas!

While we will sing in many languages, English will be the main language of communication.

We will ask a 200 EUR fee for participation in Caravan Orchestra & Choir. In return, we will cover your trip to Israel and Germany, tuition with great teachers, some food, and we will – hopefully with your help – find accommodation for participants. There is an age limit of 26 years, so you should be born after August 15th, 1996. However, if you are older than that, please apply anyway and we’ll try to make your participation possible somehow.

AND! Following the final official Caravan Orchestra & Choir concert, we offer you the chance to connect with some of the hottest (and coolest) young musicians working in today’s incredibly diverse and creative Berlin music scene. The Stegreif Orchestra is a collective of trained young musicians who are re-writing what a „symphony orchestra“ can be – with genre-busting, boundary-defying orchestral improvisations. When they heard about the Caravan Orchestra, they recognized a golden opportunity. So we give you the option of staying for a three-day workshop (Aug 13th – Aug 15th) with members of the Stegreif Orchestra directly following the official end of the Caravan Orchestra. Here’s what the Stegreif Orchestra writes about itself:

Stegreif is a collective of 30 musicians from all over the world. Our passion is to combine the cherished heritage of classical music with the limitless possibility of improvisation. Our concerts are performed without a conductor, without sheet music or chairs, allowing us more freedom for movement and interaction.

So check out their website:  and when you apply for Caravan Orchestra & Choir, let us know if you want to stay for 3 additional days to take advantage of this amazing opportunity to expand your ways of making music and meet musicians from the Berlin music scene who are pushing the envelope.

And here is the faculty for Caravan Orchestra & Choir 2023:

Photo: Shendl Copitman

Polina Shepherd was born in a Russian Jewish family in Novosibirsk. Whilst living in Tatarstan, Central Russia in the 1980-1990s, she was one of the visible young Jewish activists during her student years, just as the Jews of Soviet Union began to turn their focus back to their roots. Helping her father to bring a Jewish community together in an industrial town Naberezhnye Chelny, recording the remaining memories of Yiddish songs from locals, performing, forming her own band, she learnt about being Jewish in Russia. At the age of 17, she joined Russia′s first professional klezmer band after Perestroika, Simcha, with whom she toured the Former Soviet Union, at the same time studying her musical heritage further.
By her early 20s she was a Yiddish choir leader, composer, bandleader, singer, an international touring musician, educator and festival organiser. Having witnessed the phoenix of Jewish culture rising from the ashes of communism and helping it is flourish and develop throughout the FSU, she is now part of the international world of Ashkenazi culture.
Now living in the UK, she continues to be an international culture makher, to open this culture and to connect it to the rest of the global village. She taught the Caravan Choir in 2021 and was the artistic director for Caravan Orchestra & Choir in 2022. She will again serve as artistic director of Caravan Orchestra & Choir in 2023.

Photo: Alex Harvey Brown

Çiğdem Aslan is an Istanbul-born singer who sings in many languages and regional styles, including Turkish, Greek, Kurdish, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Romany and Ladino. Her musical journey started within the family. Coming from Kurdish-Alevi background, in which music is one of the pivotal elements of the culture, she grew up with the rich sounds of her culture and then gradually met with the other sounds of Istanbul and beyond.
While studying English literature at Istanbul University, she regularly performed Rebetiko, Sephardic and other ethnic music of Turkey. Moving to London to study music, Çiğdem began performing with groups including Dunav Balkan Band, originally established in 1964, SOAS Rebetiko Band and the award-winning She’koyokh.
As part of She’koyokh she has won plaudits for the “clear, natural ease” with which she sings (Songlines Magazine) and her “no-nonsense from the heart passion“ (fRoots Magazine). She also performs folk songs from different regions of Anatolia accompanied by Tahir Palali on kopuz/baglama and herself on frame drums. She studied music at Goldsmith’s University. Cigdem has been performing and touring her critically-acclaimed albums ‚Mortissa‘ (2013) and ‚A Thousand Cranes‘ (2016) which have been released from Asphalt Tango Records. Both albums focuses on Rebetiko and Smyrnaic songs from Asia Minor and Greece mainly from 1930s. The albums received great reviews from all around the world; including the Guardian, NPR, Songlines, fRoots, Evening Standard, New York Music Daily; and entered the World Music Charts Europe from top ten and stayed there for months. ‚Mortissa‘ was chosen as one of the best albums of 2013 by fRoots and Songlines Magazine which nominated and shortlisted Cigdem in the ‚Best Artist‘ category for Songlines Music Awards 2014.
In 2014 Mortissa won the prestigious „Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik/ German Record Critics Award.“ Cigdem is in high demand for collaborations, European tours and cultural radio and TV appearances.

Photo: Yannis Gutmann

Asineth Fotini Kokkala plays the kanun and the cello and is a choir leader. She started playing music at a very young age in Athens, where she was born and raised. She graduated from the Music High School of Pallini and the Department of Folk and Traditional Music at the University of Ioannina, specialising in the kanun. In 2010, she came to İstanbul as an Erasmus student at Yıldız Teknik Üniversitesi and has lived there ever since. She is currently completing her master’s degree in Kocaeli Üniversitesi in Konservatuvar in Turkish Music Studies.
Since 2005, she has attended several workshops at Labyrinth Music with Ömer Erdoğdular, Göksel Bakagir, Halil Karaduman, Evgenios Vulgaris, Haris Lambrakis, Sokratis Sinopoulos, Uğur Işık, Erkan Oğur, Giorgis Xyluris and Ross Daly.
In Istanbul, she is a member of Sinafi Trio, NikoTeini and she serves the director of the greek language choir ˝Istos˝. She was fortunate to collaborate with musicians such as Melike Şahin, Sanaa Moussa, Nikos Andrikos, Evgenios Voulgaris, Lamia Yared, Solon Lekkas, Apostolos Sideris and others. She is not only a highly demanded musician in recordings and concerts but has also taught at workshops and seminars worldwide.



Photo: Shendl Copitman

Christian Dawid is an internationally noted clarinetist, multiinstrumentalist and music creator. Fluent in a dozen different styles, he is most widely known for his work in Yiddish music and related genres. He counts as one of today’s leading klezmer clarinetists and has toured and/or recorded with artists such as Brave Old World, Budowitz, Arkady Gendler, The Other Europeans, Daniel Kahn, Ben Caplan, Frank London, Michael Winograd, Yuriy Gurzhy and many more. His own projects include Konsonans Retro and Trio Yas.
A dedicated teacher, Christian is also deeply involved with Yiddish Summer Weimar, works as KlezKanada’s Music Coordinator, and has taught at numerous festival academies all over the Yiddish world. When at home in Berlin, he likes to record, arrange, and write music for theatre and his own projects. This is his second year as a teacher in Caravan Orchestra & Choir.