The Annual Clara Sumpf Lecture Series featuring Jeremiah Lockwood: "The Paradoxical Aesthetics of Hasidic Cantorial Revival"

Tue February 20th 2024, 12:00 - 1:30pm
Event Sponsor
Taube Center for Jewish Studies
Building 360
Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE), 450 Jane Stanford Way Building 360, Stanford, CA 94305
Conference Room

Lecture (in English)

Time: 12:00pm - 1:30pm
Place: CCSRE Conference Room, Bldg. 360, first floor


Concert (in Yiddish)

Time: 5:00pm - 7:00pm

Place: Stanford Faculty Club, Redwood Room

Join this year's Clara Sumpf lecturer, Jeremiah Lockwood, for a day of scholarship, music, food, and drink. Jeremiah Lockwood, a Stanford alum, is a scholar and an accomplished musician with an expansive knowledge of musical traditions and techniques that range from cantorial sacred music to Piedmont blues. His career as musician and academic engages with issues arising from peering into the archive and imagining the power of “lost” forms of expression to articulate keenly felt needs in the present. Lockwood will be celebrating the launch of his book Golden Ages: Hasidic Singers and Cantorial Revival in the Digital Era (UC Press).

We invite you to attend his lunchtime lecture and then join for a live performance with his blues duo, Gordon Lockwood. All are welcome at one or both of these events!


Lecture -- 12pm CCSRE Conference Room

"The Paradoxical Aesthetics of Hasidic Cantorial Revival"

Across more than seven years of my research working with cantors in the Hasidic Brooklyn community, I was struck by a recurring motif in the life story of multiple artists: singers looked to the world of khazones, the Yiddish term used to describe early 20th century cantorial art music, as the musical substance for a highly personal and provocatively anti-conformist exploration of aesthetics. Another frequently recurring detail jarred my attention: despite their deep investment in their music, the cantors expressed ambivalence about their own agency and typically described themselves as interpreters rather than as creators. In this talk I will pursue the theme of aesthetic agency, towards the goal of clarifying the careful balance of identities in being an artist and a Hasidic person and the ethical implications in the attitude of the Hasidic world towards its intellectuals and artists. Through an ethnographic depiction of a painful incident in the life of one singer in the cantorial revivalist community, I hope to illuminate the vulnerability and the power of artists working in non-institutional sites of cultural production.


Concert -- 5pm Stanford Faculty Club, Redwood Room

Gordon Lockwood play Once Upon a Time the Fire Burned Brighter and other Yiddish songs

Originally meeting as accompanists to blues legend Carolina Slim, musicians Ricky Gordon and Jeremiah Lockwood have been making music together for decades. In this concert of Yiddish songs, the two will present their unique arrangements of old Yiddish women's ballads and new pieces from a song cycle on the poetry of 20th century Yiddish poet Celia Dropkin composed by Lockwood and his musical partner Jewlia Eisenberg (of blessed memory). The concert will include heavy appetizers and drinks!