Guide to Simcha on the Square

By Charlotte Fisher, September 12, 2008

Thousands of people are expected at this Sunday's Simcha on the Square in Central London. Awaiting them is one of the strongest line-ups of Jewish musicians to be assembled this side of the Russian steppes.

Headlining are Grammy-Award winning Klezmatics. The New York-based band, led by inspirational frontman and trumpeter Frank London, were responsible for kickstarting the whole Jewish music revival back in the 1980s.

They specialise in taking traditional Jewish music and reinventing it by mixing a variety of unexpected musical styles - gospel, Latin, even brass band music.

If the Klezmatics are the stars of Eastern European folk music, Joglaresa are coming from a completely different direction, namely medieval Spain. The London-based ensemble add new life to ancient Sephardi song, mixing it with flamenco, Middle Eastern, and Celtic sounds.

Other acts include pop singer Lauren Rose - described by one critic as Bromley's answer to Britney Spears - with her dance version of Hava Nagila and firm favourites of the home-based Jewish music scene Gregori Schechter's Klezmer Festival Band.

From Israel comes singer Avivit Caspi, returning to the Simcha stage after last year's performance. Caspi combines Hebrew melodies with English pop, but she is perhaps best known for singing the Israeli national anthem at last year's football international between England and Israel at Wembley.

As well as the performances, children can enjoy music workshops with Stephen Melzach or a special Jewish Museum workshop, adults can browse the Jewish arts and crafts stalls.

Visitors to the event - and there were 25,000 at last year's Simcha on the Square - will be able to take part in the entertainment by joining in a mass shofar-blowing.

Simcha on the Square is on Sunday in Trafalgar Square from 1pm-7pm. Full line-up and further information at

Last updated: 6:38pm, September 18 2008