Domestic Echoes of the Ashkenazi Liturgy: Naomi Cohn-Zentner Lectures at Leeds University

On June 15th -19th an international conference dedicated to the research of the music of the Jewish prayer took place in the University of Leeds. “Magnified and Sanctified: an International Academic Conference on the Music of the Jewish Prayer” funded and organized by the Art and Humanities Research Council’s ‘Performing the Jewish Archive’ project. This project is motivated by the desire to discover and engage with the musical, theatrical and literary output of Jewish artists and to theorize and re-conceptualize the Jewish archive as ‘co-textual’: all artifacts are components of a non-hierarchical, non-linear system that destabilizes the relationship between past, present and future, origin and diaspora.

The conference itself explored recent research into aspects of Jewish liturgical music, including Hebrew Psalmody, cantillation, Jewish modes and melodies, piyyutim, missinai tunes and synagogue composition, both cantorial and choral in areas where Jewish communities have flourished across the globe and through the centuries. It was a meeting place for scholars worldwide dealing with mainly Ashkenazic synagogue music but also incorporating themes such as the interface between Jewish liturgical music and Christian, Muslim musics etc.

Daat hamakom postdoctoral fellow Naomi Cohn Zentner participated in the conference in a session on Synagogue music in Israel, and gave a lecture on “Domestic Echoes of the Ashkenazi Liturgy”. Viewing Frankfurt’s seasonal melodies, originating mainly from the festive synagogue piyyutim, and their domestic usage as melodies for Shir hama’alot sung around the table before the grace after meals, questions of musical memory, exile and place were raised. The trip was supported by the Daat hamakom center for the study of modern Jewish culture and subsidized by the ‘Performing the Archive’ project.

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Abstract of the lecture