Ethnomusicologist Bronia Kornhauser was invited to deliver the 11th Annual Leo Baeck Lecture earlier this month on the topic of Jewish Music in Australia. She follows an impressive line of speakers, including parliamentarians Mark Dreyfus in 2014 and Josh Frydenberg in 2012. Her choice of topic, however, is a far cry from politics. Ms Kornhauser is an Ethnomusicologist and research archivist for the Music Archive of Monash University in the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music and one of her major research interests is the Jewish music of the Asia-Pacific region, which of course includes Australia.
For the past 20 years, Ms Kornhauser has interviewed composers and performers of Jewish music, recorded community concerts and shows, and accumulated an abundance of recordings and ancillary materials, such as books, scores, concert programs, photographs and more, all related to Jewish music in Australia. She has also published a number of scholarly articles and chapters in books on the subject and has found that it encompasses a wide variety of styles and traditions. This is hardly surprising given that a sizeable percentage of Australia’s Jewish population comprises people who have migrated here from many different parts of the world during the past two centuries or so.
At the Leo Baeck Lecture, Ms Kornhauser took the audience through a tour of many musical examples to illustrate the range and diversity of Australia’s Jewish music, and then focused on Jewish pieces created or presented in Australia by composers and/or performers of note, or notoriety.
Leo Baeck is an important Centre for Progressive Judaism in the Eastern Suburbs and has a very welcoming and inclusive ethos, as well as a variety of educational and communal programs. The Annual Lecture is a prestigious event in the Centre’s calendar.
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