The OMA is the physical home for all Other Music Academy e.V. projects – a combination nerve center and living room. People from all walks of life get involved in the OMA in a myriad of ways, some for a few months, others for years. Get to know us and what we do!
Alan Bern is Co-founder and Director of the Other Music Academy (OMA). He is Chair of the Other Music Academy e.V., Founder and Artistic Director of Yiddish Summer Weimar and the OMA Improvisation Project. He is active as a composer, arranger, pianist, accordionist, teacher, cultural activist and philosopher. He is Co-founder and Director of Brave Old World, Founder and Director of The Other Europeans, Diaspora Redux, the Semer Ensemble and others. He hopes that the OMA helps more people to have less fear of connecting with others and with themselves.
Board, Development, Yiddish Summer, OMA Improv, OMAworks, Middle Eastern Music & Cultures
Mother. Friend. Companion. Catalyzer. Project manager. Decaf coffee drinker. Katrin is responsible for the renovation of the Other Music Academy building and she manages projects in the OMA framework. She represents the Board Chair when he’s away.
Board, Office, Live OMA, House & Garden, Children & Youth, Development, Yiddish Summer, OMAworks
is a musician, anthropologist of music, dance master, cultural manager, arts consultant, workshop leader and researcher – above all in the field of Yiddish musical culture. He studied Jazz Guitar (HfMT Köln) and is a mandolinist as well as author of articles about Yiddish music and dance. He has been part of Yiddish Summer Weimar and the Other Music Academy since the very beginning and feels lucky as a board member of Other Music Academy e.V. to participate in the development process of the OMA.
Board, Children & Youth, Development, Yiddish Summer, OMAworks, Middle Eastern Music & Cultures
Johannes Paul Gräßer
Johannes Paul Gräßer is a musician and a cultural manager. He is Production Director of Yiddish Summer Weimar and he coordinates the Other Music Academy e.V. office. The main focus of his work is the preservation and further development of Yiddish culture. Inspired by the philosophy of the OMA, his approach to transmitting Yiddish culture integrates musical, scientific and social dimensions.
Valentin Schmehl (Berlin/Weimar)
Valentin is a performer, a dance scholar and an cultural activist. In a university seminar in 2011 he learned about the OMA vision from Alan Bern. He recognized his own future in this vision, and the fascination for everything that comes together in the OMA hasn't let him go since then. He supports the OMA in management and strategy, through projects, grant acquisition and networking. In the OMA he sees the consistent integration of social, artistic and scientific approaches, where otherwise one of these dimensions is often missing.
House & Garden, Children & Youth, Development, openpavillon, OMA Improv, OMAworks
Dieter advises and represents endowments, associations and other charitable organizations. He is well connected with economic and political spheres and he holds honorary offices in a variety of organizations. He is a member of the supervisory council of the OMA.
Improvisation as an approach to finding solutions and the creative development of projects are the heart of his approach to consulting. He quickly took in the creative, cosmopolitan concept of the OMA and found parallels with his professional activities.
For Thuringia, the OMA is a unique place of learning outside the standard institutions of education. From a political and ethical point of view, Dieter sees the special place of the OMA and Yiddish Summer Weimar in the fact that, in a place of past horrors (Buchenwald and Weimar), new ways of being together and new directions in Yiddish music are being developed together with people from near and far.
Supervisory Board, Development
As a biologist Grit investigates the interaction between plants and insects. She knows the OMA (former YSW) since its first days. First she just listened to the music, later she attended workshops, and today she is also part of the supervisory board. Grit likes the OMA for its open and free way of learning and the potential hidden in what’s often called “mistakes”. She is fascinated by the diversity of people coming together in the OMA. And as a clarinetist and scientist she is inspired by the way music is seen and taught at the OMA – music in view of its function and history; music as communication between musicians; music as the development of capabilities and emotions.
"Aufsichtsrat" sounds like a big position in a huge company - it´s not exactly describing what we are obliged to do at OMA. With former experiences in other associations, I was asked to keep an eye on the intern developments and extern conditions of the OMA activities, together wirh Grit and Dieter. So we do, and I am still deeply impressed by the outstanding compassion, engagement, self-reflection and openness of all people involved. My perspective is based on political analysis with main focus on peace and conflict resolution, many experiences connected with Israel in the Middle East and Jewish life in Europe. How can we cope with trauma and strengthen resilience? And what is the role of culture, art and religion? You may get some answers if You join us on this lifelong journey, where YSW and OMA´s home near Weimar´s train station are important stops to gain deeper insight into our past, present and future.
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 is currently coordinating artist support. 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.
Birgit has worked for many years as a cultural manager for German cultural societies of the Goethe Institut in Zimbabwe and Mozambique. In Weimar, the OMA has become her favorite place to be and the sparks to organize the first Afrikafest came from there. Birgit loves to communicate, likes people, is open and curious. For Birgit, art is a means for well-being which should be available to every human. At the OMA she works as a project administrator and is very interested in further developing the OMA vision.
Office, Yiddish Summer, OMAworks
I’m an even-tempered humanities scholar with creative ambitions and a friend of pragmatic solutions. At home I’m a loving mom and nature lover. For the OMA I handle the paperwork with a patient love of numbers; I passionately plow the topsoil of the organization’s administration with expense receipts. For me, the OMA is a small, swimming, changeable island that I constantly discover anew, a place forpeople and projects that dancingly push the island forward to drop anchor and explore new horizons.
At OMA and Yiddish Summer Weimar, you'll have met me mostly in front of my laptop putting together grant applications for YSW and OMA projects.
I'm a political activist out to create corners in this world that are less sexist, less racist, less transphobic, less antisemitic: that are power and community.
OMA is for me such a place, and not a place; it's diaspora reloaded. It's an island of resistance in a hostile world, a big fuck you in the faces of the fascists that don't want us to dance, to breathe, to exist.
Sayumi studied visual communication at the Tokyo Designer Gakuin College and on the Arts Hochschule Berlin (today the Arts University). Since her diploma in 1993 she has worked as a freelance artist in diverse projects in the areas of sound- and space installations, as well as as a freelance graphic designer.
She has been responsible for the visual appearance of the Other Music Academy e.V. since 2010. In addition to the websites, she designs everything from posters to T-shirts for Yiddish Summer, for the OMA and for the organization. She has also worked extensively on Yiddish dance, for which she gives workshops in Japan (at the Yiddish Academy Tokyo, the University of Osaka and the Japanese-Jewish Friendship and Study Society in Kobe), Berlin, Leipzig, London and Italy.
Since 2006 she has been a member of the Berlin Dance Ensemble "TarantalaScalza" (Tarantella - traditional southern Italian dance), with whom she has performed at numerous festivals.
Media, Yiddish Summer, OMA Improv, OMAworks
Multidisciplinary artist and filmmaker, studied at the Sam Spiegel Film School, Jerusalem and graduated from the Marc Rich Honor Program for Humanities and Arts, Tel Aviv University. From the first encounter, Eyal fell in love with The OMA. Since then, he regularly contributed to projects such as Yiddish Summer Weimar and #openpavillon as a filmmaker and designer, alongside documenting the OMA's activities for a feature documentary film. He's a strong believer in the OMA vision and hopes for a world full of OMAs all over. Currently living and dreaming in Berlin.
Media, openpavillon, OMAworks
I’m Andie Welskop, Manager of the Zughafen Kulturbahnhof (for 18 years in Erfurt). Since 2013 a member of Other Music Academy e.V. and a friend of OMA and Alan and many others. The friendship began with the song “Paris” in Clueso’s studio. I’m a supporter, I make connections, help with projects, especially YSW and infrastructure, advise and promote YSW and OMA. For me, the OMA is a symbol of my friendship with Alan, and with everyone else I’ve met I’ve met there, a philosophical metalevel, I’ve learned much there and shared my knowledge, experienced much. A place to learn and to argue, of cultures, opinions and minds, that stands for the Other Music Academy, not just a house made of stone, but for the entire idea. I wish for a shared photo exhibition with Yulia Vendeland in the OMA or at YSW.
House & Garden, Development
Diana is a Yiddish/Jewish Studies scholar and musician. She is particularely interested in Yiddish song cultures of the Renaissance and Baroque and Old-Yiddish literature. In her research, she follows questions such as: was Old Yiddish literature sung and performed? What and how did Jewish women read/sing in Yiddish?
In the past decade, Diana has been teaching and lecturing at Yiddish Summer Weimar and initiated various projects - among them the performance of the only surviving Yiddish opera from Europe in an arrangement by Josh Horowitz (https://triangleorchestra.eu/video/) or the Kadya Molodovsky project with music by Alan Bern (https://www.1meter60-film.de/film-detail/die-jungen-kadyas/).
Diana is fond of the OMA since this place provides the outer shell for a melange of the most insipring, thought-provoking, controversial, lovable and enraging, sublime and rough ideas, thoughts, performances, endevaours and trials; in short - for creativeness. It is the closest she can get to experiencing, learning and teaching an all-encompassing Academy for Vernacular Yiddish Culture(s).
Photo: Antje Seeger
Children & Youth, Yiddish Summer
Ben studied music and creative writing in Jerusalem, where he later worked as a journalist for the Jerusalem Report, focusing on contemporary European Jewish culture. Since moving to Berlin in 2016, he has been active as a freelance writer and translator. He has been contributing to the OMA for several years as a translator and editor and – more recently – as international press officer. Having a mixed European, US and Israeli background, he values the OMA not just as a unique and inspiring cultural project, but as an important personal point of reference as well.
Media, Yiddish Summer
Eva-Maria is a student of Near East Studies and Political Science, she loves music, nature, cafés, travel and good books. Since first volunteering for Yiddish Summer Weimar in 2014, its uniquely creative atmosphere that brings together people from many different backgrounds hasn’t let her go. Today, she helps project management in running and administering the festival. She sees the OMA vision being realized in the various OMA projects and hopes that this creative learning community can continue to make a sustainable contribution to society.
Yiddish Summer, OMAworks
I'm an Australian musician living and working in Weimar. I play guitar, compose instrumental and electronic music, and I seem to have a habit of getting jobs which involve me sending a lot of emails or occasionally carrying a lot of stuff.
Hoping to organise gigs at the OMA towards the end of 2018, I got a chance to sit down with Alan, and then a few days later to meet the OMA Vorstand. There it became clear to me that far from just being a room to put on gigs every now and then, the OMA is that rare project which would allow me to combine my life and work as a musician with my desire to be more politically active - and wanted to pay me for it! This kind of project is something I'd been searching for since about 2014, and the amazing multicultural and multigenerational community around the OMA which at first seemed like a nice bonus has quickly become a reason to stay much longer in Weimar than I'd originally been planning. Currently I curate concerts at the OMA, I help out with various aspects of Yiddish Summer (Gender Awareness, sound engineering, carrying things), and I also spend a lot of time there practicing guitar and composing because it's a nice place to hang out. Outside the OMA, I teach guitar at the Volkshochschule in Weimar, I manage the Landesjugendbigband Thüringen, and I try to make a lot of music.
Agnes is an art historian and dance scholar. At the OMA she works as project manager within the #openpavillon and is part of the Cabaret Studio. She keeps the radical view that social connectivity can save the world and that diversity is the potential of our societies. For Agnes, the OMA is an validating, warm-hearted, empowering platform that stands for a sense of collective solidarity in society.
Children & Youth, openpavillon
Sabine is on her way to being a musicologist and a cultural manager. During her volunteer Social year (FSJ) she got to know the OMA and the team, and quickly embraced both the building and the concept behind it. She runs the social media presence of Yiddish Summer
Weimar and gaining a lot of practical experience in cultural management. When she’s not working on her laptop she enjoys concerts in the OMA Café.
Media, Yiddish Summer
Maike & Daniel Gaede
Maike and Daniel Gaede have lived in Weimar since 1995. They’ve been closely involved with the Buchenwald memorial site, and also, thanks to their children, with the Waldorf school. They came across “Agriculture in Solidarity” through “Transition Town Weimar” and in general they’re well connected with the alternative life of the city.
In YSW and the OMA they act somewhat in the background, helping with cleaning, planting and mailing, and helping provide a pavilion, a ladder, material for “Bobe Mayses,” theater extras for “Megile,” and places to sleep after 11 pm.
They regularly rehearse in the OMA with the Band “Munterwegs” and they also play in the Erfurt Klezmer Orchestra (Maike on trombone, Daniel on flute). Both are members of OMA e.V., and Daniel is also on the oversight council.
House & Garden, Development
I’ve played violin since I was 5 years old, and since I was 15 I’ve concentrated exclusively on traditional dance music repertoire and the corresponding dances. My focus is on 17th-20th c. handwritten music notebooks used by dance musicians in German-speaking lands. I research new sources and together with some colleagues we’ve created the YouTube channel “TradTanzMusik” and the website www.tanzmusikarchiv.de
I’m also par of the organizing team for the German traditional music meeting “Klangrauschtreffen.”
Between 2011-2014 I was part of the YSW team leading workshops in instrumental music, especially dance music from North Germany, as well as New Yiddish Dance and the European Balfolk dance movement. My second love is improvisation, and for that reason I’ve been project manager of the OMA Improv Project since 2016, something very dear to my heart.
For me, the OMA is a actively lived philosophical concept that resonates with my own view of living together, art, culture, openness, curiosity, exchange, mutual understanding and critical confrontation. The Improv Project courses are not only music courses, for example, rather, they help us to develop an holistic understanding of our own very individual “musical and human” being, with its fears and strenghths, and ways in and out of crises. Musical development is not possible in this approach without at the same time developing one’s own self. For me, the need for a deep self-understanding is essential for all learning and all positive developments within a human society.
Nicolaas has degrees in Oriental Studies, Sound Engineering, Music (Jazz Violin) and Mathematics. During his studies, he got fascinated by Alan Bern’s Present Time Composition (PTC®️) at the Winter Edition Workshops of the OMA. These led to positions as researcher in Cognitive Musicology and Embodied Music Cognition in the University of Leuven, researcher in Composition and Improvisation in the Conservatory of Antwerp, and Guest Professor of Practical Harmony and Improvisation in the Conservatory of Antwerp. He currently lives in Leipzig and spends his days writing music for his musical projects, playing Greek, Romanian and Klezmer Music, and taking care of his two-year-old son. The OMA is of very special significance to him, not only for being one of the main catalyzers of his professional career, but also as a place where people from many different disciplines and backgrounds have a safe space to meet and exchange ideas and experiences.
was a volunteer at OMA e.V. in 2019-20 in the area of culture and education. Her goal was to get to know the different sides of cultural management and to be a supporting member of the OMA-team’s various activities. Her main responsibilites for YSW20 included preparing and realizing the festival, especially through assisting the participants and artists.
From the beginning, the OMA as a place to volunteer inspired her through its unique philosophy and the openness of her colleagues. She is looking forward to sharing this philosophy with other people through projects as well as to experiencing new directions in music and culture.
Xenia is a musicologist and cultural manager who has now dedicated herself to studying Air- and Space Travel Technology, because she's convinced that one can never learn enough. For her, the OMA is also a precious place to learn. A place for an open society, for learning from and with other people, to inspire and be inspired, motivate and be motivated, and always surrounded by heart-warming music.
Who am I? Catcher of word framents. Pencil sharpener. Idea souffleuse. Twister of glue stick caps. Cleaner of paint brushes. Book binding fairy. Children’s newspaper maker. Handicrafts lady. Radio report editor. Art – and culture workshop manager. Fighter for participation. Project brainstormer. Source of inspiration. Materials procurer. Treasurer of Gummibears. That’s who I am, and much more, too. Hail to daily multitasking!
The OMA is a multicultural hotspot and idea pool, where all kinds of people find each other, exchange ideas and try to create change. The OMA People teach empowerment, one more reason why the Buchkinder_Weimar has made its home in the OMA. Why not bring together people of all ages? A place, where everyone can learn from everyone – perfect! For us, the OMA is a cultural exchange and a multi-use workbench in one.
Children & Youth
Susanne Kurz-Lukas und Fraubaut!
Susanne is the founder of the handicraft company Fraubaut!, a diverse group of young and older craftspeople. Together they developed the “United Summer Construction Site,” which supports social and political groups in their work. This is how Fraubaut! came to be enchanted by the OMA during Yiddish Summer Weimar in 2016. Since 2017 the team has been working in various constellations on the #openpavillon projects. Susanne and the Fraubaut! team are enthusiastic about the OMA vision, such as bringing art and craft together, living empowerment and intercultural work across generations.
House & Garden, openpavillon
Although retired, Peter still doesn’t have enough time for his many hobbies. That’s why he takes care of the OMA front garden (even if too seldom and in intensive campaigns). As a former teacher he also gladly take part in projects involving learning in the OMA. He is belongs to a charitable organization dedicated to preserving beat- and rock-music that’s found a secure home in the OMA. During Yiddish Summer he limits himself to simply enjoying the festival. Peter has known the OMA building since his childhood, so there are more than enough reasons for him to feel very good there. Maybe that even slows down the aging process.
House & Garden, Children & Youth
Ilana Reynolds (USA/FR) is specialised in the fields of choreography and performance. She has collaborated as a dance artist with the OMA for the past four years on several socio-cultural, educational and interdisciplinary projects, such as OMA Pavillion and Yiddish Summer. For Ilana, the OMA is a socio-cultural center deeply embedded in artistic, scientific, and social practices which cultivate, support and empower individuals and communities from various backgrounds to come together to inspire, exchange and learn from one another.
Anna is a translator, a Yiddishist and a YSW groupie. When she stepped into the OMA the first time In 2020 as an intern it was love at first sight. Since then she’s been coming to Yiddish Summer Weimar every year as a volunteer. In 2019, she was Project Coordinator for the Triangle Orchestra: Yiddish Opera! Project.
Children & Youth, Yiddish Summer
I am Luka Mukhavele, a music scholar, artist, and instrument builder from Mozambique, doing my PhD research in Weimar. Since I have been to Weimar I developed a very warm relationship with OMA. It is the first place where I staged my own concert, and, most of my concerts. OMA has always given me a homely feeling, with all the friendly staff and audience to the event. I also had the opportunity to do an instrument building workshop, at the OMA, and have been granted access to the workshop, for building musical instruments.
As a therapist I work with people who have grown old. I love opennes and I’m rarely afraid. Cultural life, real life and living differently interest me. I enjoy the world of my large family and also excursions into completely different worlds. Tears come to me often, and I don’t always know why.
Alan introduced me to the OMA, and I was able to witness its development from the very beginning. I’ve had many special experiences in the OMA, most often while being part of a very diverse group, singing or working, thinking together, or dancing or playing – freely. I feel good in this atmosphere, also older among young, differently oriented or talented people, sometimes less knowledgeable or more experienced. Leftover impressions remind me of many past events. Nothing is ever like it was the last time.
I’m glad to support the OMA and its projects as a Weimarer with a strong local network, and spontaneously, with vegetables or little things, that are not so easy to find, with cake, when the “Omas bake for the OMA” or with flowers. People who come to visit the OMA or YSW for longer periods are not seldom welcome to stay with me and my family. Although the development of the OMA never goes exactly as planned, and actually because of that, it’s dear to my heart.
House & Garden
Tayfun Guttstadt was born to a German-Turkish-Jewish family in Hamburg. At the age of 13, he discovered his love of music through the guitar, a few years later he began to work intensively on music of the Middle East. Today, Tayfun is among the most in-demand performers of klassical Middle Eastern music, particularly on the Ney flute and as a guitarist. Following a long stay in Iran and Turkey as well as studies musicology, Islamic studies and a Master of Religion and Culture, Tayfun is a musician, teacher and author and lives in Berlin.
Tayfun has been a member of several ensembles in the frameworks of Yiddish Summer Weimar and the Other Music Academy (e.g. the Kadya Choir Project). He has led workshops in Middle Eastern music and has been a consultant for intercultural projects that build bridges and make connections.
“For me, the Other Music Academy is much more than an organization that enables me to make music. The Other Music Academy is a common project of great people from widely different backgrounds and disciplines working towards a common goal: understanding and exchange through culture on the highest level, always with curiousity and respect for the uniqueness of the “Other.” That’s incredibly meaningful to me.”
Middle Eastern Music & Cultures
Jakob J. is a photographer with a lot of love for capturing good light. Especially if that light shines upon the meaningful work that OMA does. He documents the #openpavillon events and tries to show - through his photographs - the deep stories of a craftsperson’s palm, the astonishing beauty of a recycled piece just created by a student, the smile upon a neighbour’s face, and sometimes, when he’s lucky, the magical moments that make OMA’s soul.
Eduardo da Conceição
Eduardo da Conceição (b. 1983, Valencia, Venezuela) is a Portuguese architect based in Berlin. In the last years he has been developing work in the fields of temporary architecture, exhibition design, installation, illustration and scenography. In his path, he has been working with multidisciplinary teams, where he finds the best work environment that allows him to combine and enhance this different skills and interests when collaborating with others. OMA became one of these teams where he can explore the education paths that run from design and construction to scenography to enable and empower young students towards their future and future community construction.
House & Garden
My name is Yvonne. I’m a filmmaker, author and photograher. In the OMA there’s a room on the ground floor. We’ve filmed documentaries many times there. Since then, for me it’s a room of tears. There’s nowhere else in the world where I’ve filmed comparable emotional outbursts, some of which resonated in me and my film team for months afterwards. On the other side, we’ve also experienced how love relationships form in the OMA. So, for me, filming in the OMA is connected with knowing that it’s a place that moves people both emotionally and physically. The OMA is a place that makes things possible.
Together with his company, GKL Planer Partnerschaft MbB, architect Jörg Kupperman is responsible for the renovation and construction of the OMA. It is especially important to him that the tangible mindfulness towards others and their points of view that the OMA exemplifies be reflected in the physical dimension of the building.
House & Garden
I am Yair Dalal, composer, violinist, oud player, singer and a teacher. A prolific ethnic musician, I see myself as part of the global world music scene. Over the last decades I recorded 14 albums, covering wide and varied cultural territory, and authentically representing Israeli, Jewish and Middle Eastern cultures and fusing them through music as whole. My family came to Israel from Baghdad and my Iraqi roots are embedded in my musical work.
Apart from creating music, I devote myself to preservng musical heritages threatened by extinction - the Babylonian Jewish Iraqi musical heritage and the music of the Bedouins (the Sinai and the Negev desert nomads).
In the Yiddish summer festival and the OMA I teach Middle Eastern music, focusing on the Jewish Arabic musical tradition, sacred Jewish Mizrahi songs (piyotim ), songs from the desert, instrumental tunes and also my compositions. The musician get to know the Maqam phenomena and the kinds of rhythm from the Middle East music. Also we get the chance to improvise with some modes - together we create an orchestra .
The Yiddish summer festival and the OMA is a very unique place for me, an extraordinary project with an amazing people that run it, it is a place to learn, to create, to live together and to express your art and feelings . I am lucky to get the opportunity to take part there as a musician and as a teacher, it is always very exciting to be there as a listener as well. OMA with a big heart!
Middle Eastern Music & Cultures