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An Introduction to the Music of Bukharian Jews, with Evan Rapport

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Jews lived in Central Asian cities such as Bukhara and Samarkand for centuries, where they played an active role in musical life. Now generally referred to as Bukharian Jews, they were instrumental in developing and preserving the court music known as the Shashmakom (“six modes”), and they also maintained distinct sacred music traditions connected to the practices of other Persian-speaking Jews. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Bukharian Jews left Central Asia en masse, establishing a vibrant community in New York and bolstering the communities that were already extant in Israel. With migration, Bukharian Jews adjusted their repertoires, presented their music in novel ways, and worked in new genres. In this presentation, Evan Rapport gives an overview of this dynamic community, their rich history, and the music that is such an important part of their culture.

Evan Rapport is Professor of Ethnomusicology at The New School in New York City. He is the author of Greeted with Smiles: Bukharian Jewish Music and Musicians in New York (Oxford University Press, 2014) and Damaged: Musicality and Race in Early American Punk (University Press of Mississippi, 2020), and he is currently working on a book about the soprano saxophonist and composer Steve Lacy. He is also a composer and saxophonist; his most recent work is a chamber opera on Jewish themes entitled A Dying Person (A Goyses), written with Daniel London.

Program made possible, in part, by Helene and Larry Edelman in honor of Suzanne Schweitzer.


Sunday, March 10, 2024


Pacific Time
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

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Virtual via Zoom