CEU Programs Join Forces with Music and Minorities Research Center in Vienna

On October 11, CEU’s Cultural Heritage Studies, Jewish Studies and Culture Hub, in collaboration with the Music and Minorities Research Center (MMRC) at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna (mdw), presented a lecture-concert featuring musician-researchers Benjy Fox-Rosen and Isabel Frey.

Following a welcome by mdw’s Department of Folk Music Research and Ethnomusicology Director Ursula Hemetek, who leads the MMRC, József Laszlovszky, CEU Professor and Director of the Cultural Heritage Studies Program introduced the lecture-concert, Challenging the Theater of Memory: Yiddish Song beyond Kitsch and Stereotype. The program was performed live at the Fanny Hensel Hall and broadcast online.          

Laszlovszky highlighted that the program is part of a series of lecture-concerts called HerMeS (Heritage, Memory and Sounds) which, through their hybrid structure, operate as both a talk and concert, allowing the presentation to traverse the performing arts and academia. The series is focused on nurturing and renewing culture and takes its name from Hermes, the god of travelers and a symbolic figure moving between worlds in classical mythology.

True to its promise, the evening alternated live music and segments of ethnomusicology research, treating the audience to insightful and scholarly reflections in situ with the sonic experience. The program was composed of nostalgic Yiddish songs, unaccompanied folk songs collected through ethnographic fieldwork, partisan and resistance songs from the Shoah and new Yiddish music by the artists themselves.

To close the program, Associate Professor Michael Laurence Miller, co-founder of CEU’s Jewish Studies, moderated a lively conversation with the audience, fielding inquiries regarding the performance selections and approaches of Frey and Fox-Rosen, as well as the negotiations the musician-researchers encountered while learning songs and working with recordings of native Yiddish speakers.