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Yallah: Judeo-Arabic Music Workshop and Conference

Details

Start:
Sunday 9th February
End:
Monday 10th February
Cost:
£25 – £72

Venue

SOAS
SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square
London, WC1H 0XG
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YALLAH: Learning Judeo-Arabic Music
February 9 & 10, 2020
Sunday registration from 9am
Monday registration from 9.30am
SOAS, Main building reception.

-PLEASE ALLOW TIME FOR SECURITY CHECKS-

Jewish communities have lived, sung and spoken in Arabic for over a thousand years from Iraq to Morocco, and these histories have been intertwined with the political and social circumstances of the countries they lived in. Music navigates their deeply rooted belonging to these places, and represents a unique approach to dealing with layered and complex identities. From Mimouna to Bakkashot, the Jews of Arabic-speaking lands have developed a distinctive repertoire for celebration and mourning that sits proudly alongside the popular music of the Arab world.

The Jewish Music Institute is excited to launch an innovative two day Judeo-Arabic music workshop and conference in London. This program, which is a first in the UK, brings together an international group of experts for a two-day extravaganza to celebrate the richness of Judeo-Arabic music. JMI has prepared a line-up of international experts on Judeo-Arabic music for two full days of conferences and workshops which will culminate in a concert by a Judeo-Arabic music celebrity Haim Botbol of Morocco.

This event will be run in collaboration with SOAS and University of Cambridge.

Conference tickets:
Sunday & Monday: £72 | Early bird £62 – (including concert)
If you are not purchasing the 2-day ticket then you have to purchase the concert ticket with Haim Botbol on Sunday night additionally here: https://www.jmi.org.uk/event/haimbotbol2020

Sunday £40 | Early-bird £30 (excluding concert)
Monday £30 | Early-bird £25
Early Bird Prices close on 17 January 2020

*student rates 25% discount on full price – please email us for student verification process and discount code

Early Bird Prices close on 17 January 2020
Full Price after 17 January 2020

Concert tickets – if sold separately – will be sold on a dedicated page in our events section.
Students £10 | General Public £15 | Tickets on the door £20

Refund policy:
90% if cancelled before 1 January.
50% if cancelled after 1 January
25% if cancelled after 1 February

Sunday 9th February 2020

Roundtable: Chaired

Dr. Ruth Davis – Reader in Ethnomusicology, Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge “Jewish Women in Arab song”

Bio: Ruth Davis studied piano and violin at the Royal Academy of Music before taking the BMus degree at King’s College London. She pursued graduate studies in ethnomusicology and historical musicology at the University of Amsterdam and at Princeton University where she was awarded her PhD in 1986. She was appointed to the first University position in ethnomusicology in the Faculty of Music in 1983, since when she has also directed studies in music at Corpus Christi College. Her research concentrates primarily on urban music of North Africa and the Middle East. She has carried out original field research in mainland Tunisia, the Tunisian island of Djerba, England (street musicians; Kurdish exile musicians), Peru, Iraq and Uzbekistan. She has published extensively in books and leading international journals such as Ethnomusicology, Yearbook for Traditional Music, The World of Music, Asian Music, Musica Judaica, The Maghreb Review, Early Music, publications of various study meetings of the International Council for Traditional Music, and in Popular Music and the Musical Times where her contributions have also been editorial. She has presented numerous programmes on Middle Eastern, North African and Central Asian musical traditions for BBC Radio 3, and she is a regular contributor to Gramophone and Songlines. Her recent publications include articles on ‘Maqam’ (modal systems of North Africa, West and Central Asia) and on Tunisian urban and Sufi traditions for the revised New Grove; and articles on Patronage and Policy, Notation, the Baron Rodolphe d’Erlanger and Music of the Jews of Djerba for the Middle East volume of the Garland Encyclopaedia of World Music. She is currently producing an edition of the pioneering ethnomusicologist Robert Lachmann’s research on musical traditions in Palestine in the 1930s; the edition will include a compact disc of Lachmann’s historic field recordings, restored through computer enhanced digital technology in collaboration with Simon Godsill, Fellow in Engineering

Professor Jonathan Glasser: Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, William & Mary, USA, “The Judeo-Arabic Debate, Musical and Unmusical”

Bio: Jonathan Glasser is Associate Professor of Anthropology at William & Mary in Virginia. He is the author of The Lost Paradise: Andalusi Music in Urban North Africa, published by University of Chicago Press in 2016. He is currently a resident fellow at the Institut d’études avancées in Paris.

Presentation: The concept of Judeo-Arabic has had a varied career. In modern Anglophone scholarship, Judeo-Arabic has been widely used to refer to the Arabic used by Jews. And in the past few decades, particularly in France, Judeo-Arabic has also been used to refer to Arabic-language music performed by Jewish musicians, most of them from the Maghreb. While these two uses have been largely separate, they emerge from a common desire to specify Jewish particularity within Arab lands. In addition, these two uses have been criticized in recent years by commentators who view the concept of Judeo-Arabic as problematic when describing Jewish participation in Arab linguistic and musical practices. In this talk, I trace the parallel use of the concept of the Judeo-Arabic in language and music, and the parallel critique of this concept. I then make a case for an alternative understanding of the notion of the Judeo-Arabic in language and music—one that links historical debates about Jewishness that emerged chiefly in a European context to debates about Arabness that have largely been internal to Arab intellectual circles in both the Maghreb and the Mashriq.

Professor Mark Kligman, Mickey Katz Endowed Chair, Professor of Musicology and Ethnomusicology at UCLA
“Syrian Judeo-Arabic music and liturgy”

Bio: Mark Kligman, is the inaugural holder of the Mickey Katz Endowed Chair in Jewish Music and Professor of Ethnomusicology and Musicology at UCLA in the Herb Alpert School of Music. He has published on the liturgical music of Syrian Jews in Brooklyn in journals as well as his book Maqām and Liturgy: Ritual, Music and Aesthetics of Syrian Jews in Brooklyn (Wayne State University, 2009), which shows the interconnection between the music of Syrian Jews and their cultural way of life. This publication was awarded a 2009 Jordan Schnitzer Book Award Notable Selection, an award of the Association for Jewish Studies. In July 2017 he was named Director of the Lowell Milken Fund for American Jewish Music.

Presentation: The focus of this presentation will be on Aleppo Syrian Shabbat Tefilah as practiced in Brooklyn. Prof. Kligman will show how their deeply embedded connection to Arab culture is infused in their liturgical expression through music and aesthetics.

Dr Merav Rosenfeld-Hadad, Co PI for the Living in Harmony Project, Research Fellow, Woolf Institute; Research Associate, St Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge; and a Chair Trustee on the Board of The Cambridge Junction.
“From Baghdad to London: On Iraqi Jewish-Muslim-Christian Coexistence”

Bio: Merav Rosenfeld-Hadad (PhD, The University of Cambridge, St Edmund’s College) is a musicologist who specialises in all types of Arabic and Middle Eastern music – prevalent among Jewish, Muslim and Christian societies across and outside the Middle East, and in Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations, in their wider historical, religious, and cultural contexts. Merav has been awarded numerous prizes and grants. She has published her research in peer-reviewed publications, and she is often invited to lecture in the UK and abroad. Her recent book is Judaism and Islam: One God One Music (Brill, 2019).

Presentation: For many years Iraqi Jews, Muslims and Christians who live in London form strong friendships that are based on their shared Iraqi culture and past homeland. Iraqi music seems to play the most powerful role in allowing, supporting and shaping these relationships. By drawing on lengthy interviews Merav has conducted recently with this group of Iraqis, she will explore this fascinating coexistence and the role of Iraqi music in shaping its nature.

Merav’s paper suggests that for these Iraqis, the new or renewed ‘togetherness’ is obvious. The harsh period of displacement and separation is only to be remembered as, and to attest to, the Iraqi spirit and hope that despite this difficult period, the values of friendship and coexistence and the great appreciation for Iraqi history and culture can compensate for the lost time.

Song workshop: Haim Botbol
“Judeo-Arabic Wedding songs Workshop with Haim Botbol and his musicians”

Bio: His father Jacob Abitbol (Botbol’s real family name) was a famous musician (he played violin) in Fez and perform traditional Moroccan music. Botbol’s father was also a songwriter and close friends with all the Jewish musical stars in Fez such as Zohra el Fassiya, Slimane el Maghrebi, Lilly Labassi, or famous musicians like David Harroush or Simon Sanae conductor of Salim Hallali‘s orchestra.

Haim Botbol began to perform with his father at the age of nine, first he played the darbouka, soon becoming the lead vocalist of his father’s orchestra. He was trained by his father to sing all Andalousian and Gharnati repertoire, and learn the classic Qassidats of Melhun which are popular in Fez. Haim Botbol studied at one of the Jewish schools in Fez until the age of sixteen when he began his professional career as a singer in the late 1950s. He performed in his father’s orchestra, while simultaneously managing his own band of young musicians to perform modern repertoire like Chgoury (essentially songs from Oran and Tlemcen) and also popular Egyptian songs. During this period he recorded his own compositions which are now part of Moroccan national musical heritage. His quickly became famous and performed for large Jewish and Muslim audiences, from all levels of the Moroccan people, from the simplest weddings to the Royal Palace.

He soon moved to Casablanca. From 1965 until the late 1970s he performed at “Sijilmassa“ the most famous cabaret in Morocco . After this period, he moved to Tangier where the Botbol brothers performed in the Ahlan Village Cabaret, which was the most famous cabaret of the Maghreb during this period. Botbol recorded hundreds of songs during his career for companies like Boussifone and Tichkafone, involving most of Moroccan repertoire of this period. After the death of Salim Halali, Samy El Maghrebi, Albert Suissa, Zohra el Fassiya, Slimane el Maghrebi, Shlomo Souiri, the Mechali Brothers, Azaar Cohen, Felix El Maghrebi and Petit Samy he is the last survivor of the Golden Age of Jewish Moroccan Music.

Keynote Lecturer: Edwin Seroussi is the Emanuel Alexandre Professor of Musicology at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Director of the Jewish Music Research Centre as well as Visiting Scholar at Dartmouth College.
“Judeo-Arabic musical spaces from the Middle Ages to the present”

Bio: Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, Prof. Seroussi immigrated to Israel in 1971 where he studied at the Department of Musicology at the undergraduate and graduate levels continuing into his doctoral studies at the University of California Los Angeles. As faculty member of the Department of Musicology at Hebrew University, he teaches ethnomusicology, world music, theory and methodology oral traditions’ research and popular music. His research focuses on the musical cultures of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, interactions between Jewish and Islamic cultures and popular music in Israel exploring processes of hybridization, diaspora, nationalism and transnationalism.

A critical discussion of the concept of “Judeo-Arabic” in its widest historical and social context is a necessary precondition for understanding present-day musical expressions positioned under that concept. The presentation will open with a survey of the interactions between Jews and Arabs in North Africa and the Middle East from the early modern period to the present, emphasizing social, political and economic processes such as imperialism, colonialism, the rise of nationalism, and post-colonial displacements and statehood. The second part of the paper will exemplify how these complex and bifurcated historical and social processes mirror in the present musical practices of Jews from Arab countries in and outside Israel.

Mohamed Ghrab MA, University of Sousse, Tunisia
“The aesthetic synergy between Hebrew and Arabic Tunisian music”

Bio: Mohamed Ghrab, after graduating in ethnomusicology, wrote his master’s thesis on the Tunisian Pesach Hagada. He currently teaches music to the Tunisian Jewish community in Djerba, and is a skilled musician on both the Accordion and Oud.

Presentation: The comparative aesthetics of Tunisian music in Arabic and Hebrew.

Dr. Clara Wenz, The Martin Buber Society of Fellows, Hebrew University
“From “Min Ha-Amim Lisgulah” to “Nʿamel Eh Lil-ʿUzāl” The Journey of the Famous Record, Part II”

Bio: Clara Wenz holds a BA in Philosophy (Munich), an MA in Middle Eastern Studies (SOAS) and a PhD in Ethnomusicology (SOAS). Her PhD thesis explores musical and sonic memories of the Syrian city of Aleppo and is based on fieldwork undertaken among Jewish and Muslim diasporic and refugee communities in Berlin, Beirut, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Istanbul. She currently holds a post-doc position with the Martin Buber Society of Fellows at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

Presentation: This paper continues to narrate the biography of what I call “the famous record” – a record of the paraliturgical hymn “Yom Yom Odeh”, sung by the Syrian Hazzan Rafoul Tabbach and produced by the Lebanese Baidaphon label in the 1920s. Contrary to previous papers, where I have outlined the record’s journey between Beirut, Istanbul and Jerusalem, this time, my focus will lie on Berlin. Tracing its roots in the past, I will return to the assumed place of the famous record’s material origin – an industrial complex on the banks of the river Spree which once hosted a record pressing factory. From here, I will document its resonance in the present. I will do so by examining the ways a displaced Syrian musician narrates his experience of listening to “Yom Yom Odeh” whilst trying to transcribe it on paper. His personal account of what he “hears” in the song will give an insight into the geographical, cultural and political associations that the musical heritage of the Jews of Arabic speaking lands provokes amongst its non-Jewish inhabitants today

Dr. Moshe Morad, Lecturer at Tel Aviv University, Chair of the Israeli Forum for Contemporary Ethnomusicology, and radio broadcaster
“Mizrahi(t) and Queer: Judeo-Arabic popular music and intersectionality in Israel”

Bio: Moshe completed his Ph.D. at SOAS in 2013. He is the author of “Fiesta de Diez Pesos: Music and Gay Identity in Cuba”, winner of the Merriam Prize honourable mention and the Herndon gender and sexualities book award, and co-editor of “Mazal Tov Amigos!: Jews and Popular Music in the Americas”, winner of the 2018 SEM’s Jewish Music book award.

Presentation: Alongside the protest movement of Mizrahim, Jews from Muslim countries, against marginalization and discrimination caused by the political, social and cultural domination of European Jews, a new music genre started gaining popularity in Israel in the 1970s, Muzika Mizrahit, hybridizing elements of Arabic music, Judeo-Arabic traditions, Turkish and Greek melodies, and western pop.

In spite of its conservative and patriarchal roots, in recent years the Israeli LGBTQ community has embraced the genre, with dedicated club nights, drag shows, performances and Mizrahit-style gay pride anthems. Furthermore this embrace has become bilateral when Mizrahit stars started using queer elements in their performance. This paper examines the phenomenon of one marginalized group embracing the culture of another. It follows the history of Muzika Mizrahit in Israeli queer space culminating in a popular gay party-line celebrating various layers of intersectionality with a unique playlist of Muzika Mizrahit, Judeo-Arabic and Arabic dance music.

Dr. Vanessa Paloma Elbaz: Research Associate, University of Cambridge
“Sonic Resistance during Nazism: the role of Judeo-Arabic songs in the Maghreb”

Bio: Research Associate at the University of Cambridge working on the ERC funded project Past and Present Musical Encounters Across the Strait of Gibraltar. Her research focuses on issues of music, narrative and power structures in Morocco’s Jewish music. Founder of KHOYA: Jewish Morocco Sound Archive, her work has been featured in the New York Times, BBC, I24 and Al Jazeera among others. Former Fulbright Senior Research Scholar to Morocco and Posen Fellow, her research has also been funded by the American Institute for Maghrib Studies and the Righteous Persons Foundation.

She is also a professional performer of Sephardi repertoires.

Presentation: During World War II the Moroccan Jewish community witnessed the horrors of Nazi Germany initially from the wave of refugees arriving to Moroccan shores and in the international press. For those in the French Protectorate, Vichy laws arrived to their doorstep in 1940. This paper will present various songs in Judeo-Arabic written during the war that acted as a sonic resistance to the oppression felt by the Jewish community in the Maghreb and the genocide experienced by those in Europe. Through language, liturgical poetic tropes and melodies, Maghrebi Jews used this form of encoded communication to rally for unity and tenacity, while expressing it in a language understood by both Muslims and Jews.

__________________________________________________________

Monday 10th February 2020

Song workshop: Yoav Oved
“Yemenite Jewish Song”

Yoav Oved moved to England, from Israel, in 2012 to study music at Royal Holloway University. Upon graduating, his interests turned to Mizrahi and Ashkenazi music, both secular and religious. He works closely with the Jewish Music Institute to educate through performance. The concert, “Songs of Israel”, built to represent this, has been performed at JCoSS, JMF, NWSS, LJS and private venues.

Yoav currently sings as a Cantorial Singer at Westminster Synagogue and lead singer in a Mizrahi band “EasternBeats”.

He has given multiple recitals in London, Riga and Paris and has also participated as a soloist with the LSO in a contemporary visual arts project. Yoav also performed the “El Male Rachamim” prayer at the Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony at City Hall in Jan 2017 in front of the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, and Assembly of London.

Panel 1: Judeo-Arabic from Yemen to Central Asia

Naama Perel Tzadok: Lecturer, Kineret Sound Engineering College, Israel
“The Integration of the Jewish Yemenites’ Folk Music in Israeli Art Music”

Bio: Naama graduated her MA studies in Music Composition at Haifa University, Israel. She has written music for diverse ensembles, and today they are performed by different orchestras, ensembles and choirs in Israel. These days, she is a lecturer at the technological college “Kineret”, in the sound engineering department.

Presentation: The immigration of the Jews of Yemen to Israel began in the
13th century and lasts until very recently. Among with them, the Yemenite people brought their unique culture to be reflected in their clothes, jewellery, food, art, dance and music. The presentation deals with the meeting of five Israeli composers from the first generation, who were educated on western music, with the folk Yemenite music that the immigrants brought with them. By analysing the Jewish Yemenite folk music as well as music compositions which were influenced from these folk songs, the level of influence was checked in matters such as folk vocal sound production, texture, typical intervals, modes, maqamat and other folk-Yemenite parameters. This research examines the ways that those parameters appeared in the concert music; in pure, altered or complex ways.

Alexander Knapp (PhD, Cantab): Music Department Research Associate (retired Joe Loss Lecturer in Jewish Music), SOAS
“Organum in Yemenite-Jewish liturgical practice”

Presentation: This ten-minute presentation opens with speculations on the origins, development, and purpose of organum in European and Middle East vocal music in general, and continues with an investigation of this phenomenon specifically among the Yemenite Jews (one of the three main Hebrew-speaking musical cultures in which it can be found). A survey of Yemenite-Jewish liturgical practice, its essential musical characteristics, distinctive voice production, and the influences of surrounding ethnicities to which it has been exposed in situ over the centuries and latterly in modern Israel, is followed by a taped performance of the opening of Psalm 133 (Hinei ma tov umanaim), that leads to concluding observations and further questions to be addressed in ongoing research.

Dr Razia Sultanova, Research Fellow, Cambridge Muslim College
“From Judeo-Arabic to Bukharan: Berta Davydova’s performance of Shashmaqam”

Bio: Dr Razia Sultanova is the author of a number of books (in English, French and Russian) on Central Asian music, gender and religion, and music and society. Her next monograph entitled “Popular culture in Afghanistan” is currently being published. She has studied and worked at both the Tashkent and Moscow State Conservatories and has taught at the University of Cambridge since 2008.

Presentation: Millennia-old Bukhara found at the very heart of the Great Silk Road has long been a centre of trade, scholarship and Islamic culture. Bukhara is also a city famous for its Bukharan Jews, who live there continuing the practice of Sephardic Judaism. It was Bukharan Jewish musicians who have historically contributed to performance of Uzbek-Tajik classical music Shashmaqam. Their presence has played a crucial role in preservation of musical heritage of Shashmaqam, since female performance (officially prohibited in Muslim Central Asian palace culture and in aristocratic circles) had instead found its home in the repertoire of Bukharan Jewish musicians. As one of the outstanding Bukharan Jewish female singers Berta Davydova (1927-2008) had confessed: ”I was the first woman who sang Shashmaqam”, defying that ban by dedicating her singing career, alongside many like her, to help preserve this unique music phenomenon. The musical genre of Shashmaqam (six Maqams, stemming from Arabic ‘maqam’ which means a station, place, or location) was established in Bukhara several centuries ago. Its exclusive beauty, length of melody and rhythm, along with complicated structure have resulted with numerous schools of performance. The aim of my presentation is to show how, in accordance with the globalisation phenomenon of the 21st century, Shashmaqam has escaped extinction by crossing religious, ethnic and gender limits.

Panel 2: A new generation in Judeo-Arabic music

Professor Michael Figueroa: Assistant Professor at University of North Carolina, USA
“Remixing Sephardism: Syrian Jews, Electronic Music, and the Arab American Imaginary”

Bio: Michael Figueroa is Assistant Professor of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he is also Associate Director of the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies. His research has focused on Israeli popular music, poetry, film, and drama, as well as on Arab American music and racial formation.

Presentation: In this paper, I discuss Andy Dushey’s “Halabeats,” a music project that includes electronic remixes of Sephardic sacred liturgy associated with Halab/Aleppo. In so doing, I explore the possibilities for understanding Syrian Jewish music within a broader framework of Arab American racial discourse and performance in the 21st century.

Xavier I. Sayeed, Emory University, USA
“Generational Approach to Andalusian Music in Israel: A Case Study”

Bio: Xavier Sayeed is a Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry Humanities Honors Fellow and a Halle Institute Global Research Fellow at Emory University, where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Music Research and Jewish Studies. His primary research interest is the study of Jewish culture in Islamicate contexts. His current project focuses on nostalgia and Andalusian music in Israel.

Presentations: “Generational Approach to Andalusian Music in Israel: A Case Study” analyzes how changing notions of Israeli multiculturalism inform aesthetic choices made by two Andalusian ensembles in Israel and briefly explores the implications of generational shifts in performance practice.

Dunya Habash, Woolf Institute and Cambridge University
“Living in Harmony: Music, Memory and Encounters between Muslim, Christian and Jewish Neighbours in Iraq and Syria”

Bio: Dunya Habash is undertaking a PhD in Music at the University of Cambridge through a Woolf Institute Cambridge Scholarship under the supervision of Dr Matthew Machin-Autenrieth. Her ethnographic research with Syrian musicians in Turkey examines the effects of ‘integration’ on music-making and more generally on Syrian cultural practices and imaginaries post-displacement. Dunya formerly joined the Woolf Institute as a Researcher and Outreach Officer for the ‘Living in Harmony’ project in March 2018. She also holds undergraduate degrees in Music and History from Birmingham-Southern College, where she embarked on her first substantive project with Syrian refugees, a documentary on Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp, ‘Zaatari: Jordan’s Newest City’. That work led her to complete an MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies at Oxford University and a TEDx talk in Birmingham, AL.

Presentation: The ‘Living in Harmony’ project at the Woolf Institute focuses on the cultural and social implications of musical encounters between Jewish, Christian and Muslim neighbours in historical Iraq and Syria. It examines how the role of music and musical performance created a sense of communal belonging in the past and may continue to create a sense of commonality among various faith communities in diaspora. In other words, how interactions through shared musical traditions have influenced Jewish, Muslim, and Christian relations in the past and how the consideration of music and musical encounters can facilitate interfaith dialogue in the present and in the future. The investigation centres on two cities: Aleppo in Syria and Baghdad in Iraq. Aleppo and Baghdad were chosen because of their historic cosmopolitanism, as seen in the evidence of close association among Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities. Can a reminder of this shared past, especially through music and the Arabic language, contribute toward shaping an intercommunal present within Baghdadi and Aleppian, more properly known as Halabi, communities in diaspora?

Dr Ilana Webster-Kogen, Joe Loss Senior Lecturer in Jewish Music at SOAS University of London

Bio: Dr Ilana Webster-Kogen is the Joe Loss Senior Lecturer in Jewish Music at SOAS University of London, where she is also the Associate Director for Student Outcomes. Her book, Citizen Azmari: Making Ethiopian Music in Tel Aviv, was published by Wesleyan University Press in 2018 and won the Society for Ethnomusicology’s Jewish Music SIG publication prize. She is currently conducting a multi-sited study of chanting from north African Torah scrolls. Her work has been published in Ethnomusicology Forum, African and Black Diaspora, and the Journal of African Cultural Studies.

Presentation: Torah scrolls are probably the most important objects in Jewish communal ritual. Some are commissioned in Israel and sent to the diaspora, but they travel in unexpected directions with Jewish migration. The movement of scrolls and people prompts a changing performance practice of biblical cantillation, including pronunciation of cantillation marks and extra-musical performance habitus of translation (sharh) and gesture (simanim). This paper interrogates the triangular circulation of North African Torah scrolls between Morocco, France and Israel, and how the performance practice of biblical cantillation adapts to the recomposition of communities in new peripheries. In particular, it focuses on one special scroll written in Morocco in 1734, and the surrounding community that has adapted its chanting habitus to accommodate the musical expertise and textual fluency of its Torah readers. It considers more broadly what makes a border, both in the text itself (the unusual forty-six line format of the text) and in the borders differentiating the (sometimes-arbitrary and potentially-colonial) distinctions between Arab and Jewish performance practices. I also present some unexpected findings about conducting research into Torah scrolls as a woman, and the blurred border between a true insider and a near-outsider in fieldwork. In the process of understanding the alternative pronunciations of disjunctives, I explore a disjuncture in knowledge, practice and access in religious life.

Song workshop: Dr Sara Manasseh, Independent Researcher
“Iraqi Jewish Song, Sacred to Secular – from Baghdad to Bombay and Poona”

Bio: Sara Manasseh was born in Bombay (now Mumbai), and moved to London in 1966. Her family, originally from Baghdad, settled in Bombay during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Her publications include articles on music in religious and life-cycle events, in the Babylonian (or Iraqi) Jewish tradition, the role of Iraqi Jewish women in music performance, music in the Bene Israel Indian Jewish tradition, and with her mother, Rachel Manasseh, a historical and social account of the Baghdadian Jews of India. Her doctoral dissertation, Women in music performance: The Iraqi Jewish experience in Israel (London University, 1999), surveys the historical, social and musical life of Iraqi Jews in Iraq and Israel, noting the significant change in women’s musical participation, and the continued preference for Iraqi Jewish musical traditions at religious and life cycle events, and for Arab music – particularly of Egypt and Iraq – at social events.

“Lives in focus: Yeheskel Kojaman” Introduction by Lyn Julius

Lyn Julius is the British-born daughter of Iraqi-Jewish refugees. She graduated in International Relations from the University of Sussex. A journalist and blogger, her work has appeared in the Guardian, Jewish News, Ha’aretz, Standpoint and Huffington Post, among other media.

Lyn is a journalist and co-founder of Harif, an association of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa in the UK. She is the author of ‘Uprooted: How 3,000 years of Jewish Civilisation in the Arab world vanished overnight.’

Dr Bea Lewkowicz & Daisy Abboudi (Sephardi Voices UK)

Sephardi Voices UK’s mission is to document stories of childhood, displacement, migration, exile, and resettlement and to bring to life the vibrant Jewish communities left behind, the journeys of migration and the rich culture and tradition of Sephardi/Mizrahi Jews. Bea and Daisy will introduce and present their interviews with eminent Iraqi-Jewish Ethnomusicologist Yeheskel Kojaman z”l. Author of “The Maqam Music Tradition of Iraq”.

Dr Bea Lewkowicz is a social anthropologist and oral historian, and director of two oral history projects, Sephardi Voices UK and the AJR Refugee Voices Archive. She received her PhD from the London School of Economics and her thesis on the Jewish Community of Salonika was published in 2006 (The Jewish Community of Salonika. History. Memory. Identity). She directed and produced many testimony-based films and has curated several exhibitions, such as Continental Britons, Double Exposure, and Sephardi Voices.

Daisy Abboudi – Daisy studied Ancient History at University and holds a Master’s Degree from King’s College London. She has been Deputy Director of Sephardi Voices UK since 2017 and has conducted over one hundred oral history interviews over the course of her career.

Dr. Stephen Wilford, Research Associate, University of Cambridge Exhibition of French Colonial Postcards of Jewish Maghrebi Musicians.
‘Hearing and Seeing Judeo-Arabic Music in Colonial Algeria’

Stephen Wilford works at the University of Cambridge as part of the ERC-funded project ‘Past and Present Musical Encounters Across the Strait of Gibraltar’. His work combines contemporary ethnomusicology and historical research into musical composition, performance and reception in Algeria and France throughout the colonial and postcolonial periods.

In the early twentieth century, postcard production expanded rapidly in France and its colonies. These cards played an important role in French-ruled Algeria, offering a fast and affordable means of communication between North Africa and Europe for French citizens working, travelling and fighting on Algerian soil. Alongside depictions of beautiful scenery, Algerian urban spaces and highly-exoticized subjects, a large body of postcards portrayed musicians, musical instruments and musical performances. In an era before public radio broadcasting and widespread access to recorded sounds, these small, inexpensive, mass-produced images provided the only way in which much of the French (and broader European) public would encounter Judeo-Arabic music and musicians from Algeria and this exhibition explores some of the ways in which these musicians were presented.

Chaired discussion between Maurice Elbaz and Ben Mandelson
“Producing Judeo-Arabic and World Music in Europe and the Muslim World”

Maurice Elbaz is a Moroccan Jewish Concert promoter and artist manager who represents the majority of Moroccan Jewish musical performers in Morocco and in France. His very successful Hafla festival programme has produce countless concerts and festivals in Morocco, showcasing the wealth of Jewish Musical traditions.

Ben Mandelson is a leading independent world music record producer and active musician. He was part of the key group of UK music professionals who launched the current ‘world music’ genre. He is Founding Director of WOMEX and active Supervisory Board member for the parent company Piranha Arts, which is based in Berlin, Germany. WOMEX is the world’s biggest professional music conference, tradefair and showcase event for World, Roots, Folk and Traditional music – held annually within Europe at the end of each October. The 25th edition took place in Tampere, Finland in October 2019.

Followed by Closing Panel: see brochure


Dr Ilana Webster-Kogen (SOAS - University of London)

Dr Ilana Webster-Kogen Ilana is the Joe Loss Senior Lecturer in Jewish Music at SOAS. Her first book Citizen Azmari: Making Ethiopian Music in Tel Aviv was published with Wesleyan University Press in 2018. Her new project focuses on emptiness in Manshiyya on the Tel Aviv-Jaffa border. Her work has been published in Ethnomusicology Forum, African and Black Diaspora and the Journal of African Cultural Studies.

SOAS page here


Dr Vanessa Paloma Elbaz (University of Cambridge)

Research Associate at the University of Cambridge working on the the ERC funded project Past and Present Musical Encounters Across the Strait of Gibraltar. Her research focuses on issues of music, narrative and power structures in Morocco’s Jewish music. Founder of KHOYA: Jewish Morocco Sound Archive, her work has been featured in the New York Times, BBC, I24 and Al Jazeera among others. Former Fulbright Senior Research Scholar to Morocco and Posen Fellow, her research has also been funded by the American Institute for Maghrib Studies and the Righteous Persons Foundation. She is also a professional performer of Sephardi repertoires.

Cambridge University page here


Yallah Trailer


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