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Musician Bios

Lori Lippitz (Vocals, Guitar, Band Director) studied Russian at the University of Michigan, where she organized activism for Soviet Jewry, and at the University of Chicago. She brought together her interest in Eastern European culture and her love of music when she founded Maxwell Street Klezmer Band in 1983, at age 24. After establishing a not-for-profit to support the revival of Jewish culture in Chicago (the Klezmer Music Foundation), Lori started the Junior Klezmer Orchestra, three congregational klezmer bands, and the Salaam-Shalom Music Project, an interfaith performing group. She also serves as a freelance Cantorial Soloist. Lori is married and lives in Skokie.

Amro Hosny Helmy (Vocals, Oud) a native of Egypt, teaches at the Islamic Foundation School in Villa Park and lectures at the American Islamic College in Chicago.  His style of playing and his compositions have earned Amro an international reputation. After earning his music pedagogy degree in Cairo, he worked for the Heritage of Music Foundation and taught at the Ministry of Higher Education in Kuwait.  Since becoming an American, Amro has led a children's chorus in Sounds of Faith: Chicagoans Share Sacred Sounds in 2011, and was a featured at Sounds of Faith: An Interfaith Concert Experience in 2014.  He has performed more than seventy concerts around the world and has participated in more than fifty performances at interfaith programs in Chicago. "If there is something that can be changed in this world, it can only happen through music."

Dahlia Sultan (Vocals) is of Egyptian heritage, and has devoted herself to learning the classical Egyptian repertoire of singers like Oum Kalthoum. She received her BS in Health Science with a minor in Performance Music and graduated from UIC College of Pharmacy in 2015. Dahlia is now completing her residency at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. She has been featured as a soloist for several ensembles, including Benedictine’s Concert and Chamber Ensembles and Bulbul Ensemble.

Yasmin Ali (Vocals) comes from a background steeped in love for singing and songwriting. Raised in a Pakistani household where singing Naatein and Ghazalein (devotional poetry) was a part of the family tradition. She has sought to blend that tradition with a contemporary esthetic, paying homage to her heritage through the songs that she writes. She is devoted to interfaith endeavors, is a part of the Jewish-Muslim Coalition Building Initiative, and has been on the planning committee for Cafe Finjan and Iftar in the Synagogue since 2011. She is also a graphic artist who works with oils and multimedia. Her work can be seen at the Museum of Contemporary Art. With her band, “Slowbots,” she has performed at the World Music Festival of the Old Town School of Folk Music, the House of Blues, Martyrs and Uncommon Ground.  

Alex Koffman (Violin) has been Maxwell Street Klezmer Band’s Violinist and Musical Director since 1990.  A graduate of the Conservatory of Minsk, he conducted in the Former Soviet Union with the Red Army Band. Alex toured nationally and at the United Nations in 2005 with Genesis at the Crossroads, playing classical Arabic music with an interfaith orchestra.  He was a featured soloist with Chicago Lyric Opera in 2015 in their original production The Passenger.  He played at Symphony Center with Chicago Sinfonietta in 2014 in their premiere performance of “Klezmer Rhapsody.”

Donald Jacobs (Clarinet and Saxophone) has played with Maxwell Street from its founding in 1983. Don recorded on three of Maxwell Street’s CDs, and performed with other Maxwell Street musicians in the first klezmer opera, “The Property,” in Lyric Opera of Chicago's production. He has also arranged many pieces for the band. Don's touring career has included two trips to Jewish festivals in London, Vienna and Germany with Maxwell Street, three Danish tours, and many festivals in the U.S. and Canada. He graduated cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis, and has studied with clarinet masters Sid Beckerman, Richard Corpolongo, George Silfies and James Stoynoff. Now a resident of Houston, Texas, Don is the assistant band director at Lanier Middle School. He plays with “The Best Little Klezmer Band in Texas,” and also plays gypsy jazz and Balkan music. He enjoys returning to Chicago to play with Maxwell Street and others ensembles.

Kim Sopata Fleuchaus (Flute, Nay) ​is an adjunct professor of flute at Trinity Christian College. Kim graduated with honors from Northwestern University and holds a Master's degree in Ethnomusicology with an emphasis in Middle-Eastern music.  She studied the Egyptian ney with Arabic masters. In 2003, she performed with the Mosaic Ensemble at the Kennedy Center, the White House, the United Nations, at NYC's Symphony Space, Chicago’s Symphony Center, and before Queen Rania of Jordan. Her ney can be heard on the documentary film, “A Message from the East,” and she has toured throughout the U.S. and Canada with playwright Rohina Malik with the one-woman play, “Unveiled.” She has performed at the Goodman Theatre as understudy flute in “White Snake.”  A dedicated chamber musician, she is a founding member of several ensembles and director of Jubal Music.  

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Hannah Fidler (Bass) is a bassist, singer, and composer originally from Bloomington, IN. In 2017, she was a Fellow for OneBeat, a program run through the U.S. State Department that brings together artists from around the world to tour the nation with original music and cross-cultural workshops. She currently lives in Chicago and can be found performing, recording, and touring with artists such as Al Scorch (folk), Ben Burden (hip-hop), Not Lovely (jazz/hip-hop), and her solo project, Lyn Rye. In her spare time, she is volunteers with Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants and serves as Programming Assistant for Masjid Al-Rabia, a women-led, LGBTQ+ affirming Islamic community in Chicago.

Lokman Odeh (Percussion, Vocals) of Palestinian descent, comes from Amman, Jordan. He received a scholarship from Hashemite University in Amman to play with the University Orchestra, which brought him on tour to Egypt, Turkey, and India. At The National Music Conservatory, Jordan's premier institution for the development of talented musicians, Lokman played with the university orchestra and sang traditional Arabic folk music as a member of the choir.  One of the missions of the NMC is to demonstrate “the power of music to promote understanding, peace and unity across cultural divides.”  After graduation, Lokman played with Jordan’s Baladna Orchestra, sang with the al-Hanuna Folklore Society, and accompanied the famed composer, Talal Abu al-Rageb. In 2015, he immigrated to the Chicago area, where he has become the go-to percussionist for local Arabic ensembles. His brothers are trained folk dancers.

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