I have been studying and singing Jewish music for years, and my research and performance of Jewish vocal repertoire have taken me throughout the UK, North America and Israel.
A professional Yiddish singer and workshop leader, I have been fully trained, with a postgraduate in Performance and Ethnomusicology.
One of the UK's top young performers of Yiddish song.Jewish Music Institute UK
I specialise in Jewish music, but I'm able to sing at a variety of events. If there's any specific music you would like to hear at your event, contact me and I'll do my best to accomodate you.
I began singing Yiddish songs when I re-discovered a Jewish song-book that I had been given at the age of 12. At the time I was performing in a folk band, and began to introduce some of the (more well-known) songs from the book to the band's repertoire.
I started going to Yiddish language and music courses in London, learning from some of the world's most respected Yiddish musicians and linguists.
Eventually I studied Yiddish for two years at UCL alongside working for a music postgraduate which specialised in Yiddish folk repertoire, a personal research performance project examining the boundaries between prayer and performance in Chazzonus (cantorial music), and gender and vocal performance in Chassidic music (specifically the law of 'Kol Isha'). More recently, I have been learning, performing, and researching Yiddish music in Montreal, Toronto and New York.
I am available to sing before, during and after your Chuppah, or at your wedding reception or dinner.
I have a wide repertoire of Hebrew, Yiddish and liturgical songs suitable for wedding ceremonies, which include the Sheva Brachot, and any other songs you may want.
Starting from Feb 2013, I will be running 'Der Nayer Klang' at the Jewish Music Institute - a new vocal workshop programme for singers and musicians which focuses on two major strands of the Jewish Eastern European vocal tradition; Yiddish song and Niggunim.
I am a guest tutor at KlezNorth Yiddish music festival.
I facilitate music sessions in community centres in Stepney and Stamford Hill.
I coordinated and taught the vocal strand of the SOAS Klezmer ensemble (university of London) 2010-2012.
I teach Jewish music at Westminster Synagogue.
Here's some videos of my performances at various events, and a few of my recent recordings.
(All Brachot samples available on request)
I honestly think that Rachel is one of the best people I have ever heard singing Yiddish, ever. I listened to her sing and tears came to my eyes - there was so much passion, beauty and intelligence behind her voice. I was touched and I can only hope that I bring that kind of spirit to the things that I sing.Anthony Russell; Yiddish Bass (San Fransisco)
I was very impressed with Rachel's genuine approach, her beautiful voice, this very strong sense of classical musicianship that she brings into the Yiddish repertoire, and something very authentic in the way she delivers the music which made me simply very moved, I was moved by the performance...."Matti Kovler : Composer, New England Conservatory (Boston)
Rachel sang a number of Yiddish songs at our wedding and made a wonderful contribution to the event. We spent time together planning which songs she would sing and she demonstrated great knowledge of the tradition and was willing and able to accommodate our wishes. I would recommend Rachel highly to anyone looking to add something special to their event.
Her choice of songs, style and performance is markedly different from the standard fare which one sometimes sees at Jewish events, and she gives memorable and highly accomplished performances.Robin and Daphna
Rachel sang at our wedding and it was one of the most memorable and special moments of our day. She has the most unimaginably beautiful voice, and sings with such warmth and passion.
Rachel took the time to speak to us as a couple beforehand, which allowed her pick songs which would fit with our personalities and the feeling and atmosphere of the day. She sang in Yiddish and explained the meaning behind the words, which was particularly special and allowed everyone to feel involved. Rachel enraptured us and our guests, and we truly treasure the memories of her singing on our wedding day.Vanessa and Marc
Rachel sang beautifully at our wedding, and helped to make the atmosphere incredibly special. She sang as our family and friends arrived, learnt a specific song which we sent her in advance that meant a lot to my family, and she also sang our Sheva Brachot. She was professional, and a beautiful singer.Rachel and Simon
In the Jewish Ashkenazic tradition, recital of Selichot (meaning 'forgiveness') begins on the Saturday night before Rosh Hashana (Jewish new year) and traditionally incorporates the elaborate recitation of penitential prayers and poems. Myself (voice), Joseph Finlay (piano, arrangements) and Daniel Gouly (clarinet) will provide the music for this reflective and intimate service.
8.45pm @ Hendon Reform Synagogue (Danescroft Avenue NW4 2NA)
10.30pm - 1am @ Moishe House (NW2): Mi Ma'amakim: Out of the Depths - A Selichot Experience with Grassroots Jews: a night of stories, niggunim and kavannot (intentions) (please confirm your attendance to russellcollins79 [at] gmail.com)
For the first time since his groundbreaking BBC series, Norman Lebrecht explores the vital relationships between music and the Jews in this illustrated talk. With sources that extend from King David to Amy Winehouse, he argues that music is a universal language that Jews have used in a particular way. Norman is an award-winning novelist and broadcaster. With a live performance by Minim, the UK’s new Jewish mixed choir, who perform Jewish choral music.
Queer Femme Peculiar @ The Royal Vauxhall Tavern 8pm £5/3. Opera-Cabaret-Contemporary Dance collaboration with dancer Danielle Galway.
All Change Festival Fun Palace at Lyric Hammersmith: Sing it! Sprit of Envy! (time tbc)
With theatre-maker Rachel Mars: A song piece about greed and envy, solo pursuits and communal contentment. Made anew with a pop-up choir of local singers wherever it travels, it puts two joyfully waggling fingers up to glib, economic politco-bull-speak.
Cantor Jaclyn Chernett, Rachel Weston, and Judith Silver welcome you to a Heimishe Zingeray.
'Hemishe': homely; warm; friendly; intimate.
'Zingeray' (from the Yiddish verb 'zingen; to sing')
An informal gathering for the purpose of individuals sharing, learning and passing on songs on a communal level. A celebration of oral song tradition.
What songs are significant to you, and what stories do they tell?
We invite our friends and community to join us in sharing songs which are meaningful to you, in whatever language and from whichever genre or tradition. This is informal, it is not a performance and all singers are welcomed regardless of vocal 'ability'.
Please bring a vegetarian snack to share. (Address on RSVP).
Guest singer with the London Jewish Male Choir
Performing Yiddish Songs for JW3's Weekend of Women
Canada - 17th August to 4th September 2014
New York - 14th to 24th January 2013
For all enquiries and booking requests, please contact me using the form below.