קונגרס העולמי ה-18 למדעי היהדות

Major Center, Sparse Periphery: Jewish Music Resources in a Midwestern College Town

Indiana University presents a complex arrangement of resources for studying music and Judaism. It houses one of the country’s premier schools of music, one of the oldest and largest Jewish Studies programs, and the first endowed chair in Jewish music and the arts outside of a seminary; and counts over three dozen cantors among its alumni to date. Yet it also exists in city and state with small Jewish populations (Indiana’s state Jewish population is around 23,000), limiting both its local connections and its potential audiences. This combination creates a kind of island effect, where Jewish music activity is concentrated in university-based events on the one hand, and must connect with other non-Jewish university initiatives on the other hand.

In this presentation, I will discuss four major projects that reflect the nature of Jewish music in a midwestern university town: the Jewish Sacred Music track of the Jewish Studies major, our Jewish musical artist-in-residence program, the Jewish Studies Program’s role in supporting and commissioning new works, and the Tischler Collection of Israeli art music. By exploring the successes and challenges of these programs, I offer a view of Jewish musical resources that reflects a less-understood part of the American experience: where the nature of Jewish music must exist in a broader (often non-Jewish) educational context, while at the same time housing the potential for fostering standalone works that can live beyond the university itself.