Kapelya: The Gender of Music in Contemporary Jewish Brooklyn
2023 saw the release of the groundbreaking album Kapelya by the group Raza. This record is the first recording of nigunim by an ensemble of Orthodox Jewish women. This lecture offers an introduction to the album, contextualizing it in two intertwined musical worlds: the contemporary Orthodox music scene, with its attendant gender ideologies characterized by a male-dominated soundscape, and the multiple non-Orthodox Jewish women’s religious music scenes in which female voices are ascendant.
About the Series "Songs without Words: Nigunim over Time"
Judaism has a musical tradition of tunes sung repetitively without words. These melodies, called nigunim, are as open to new interpretation as they are evocative of past worlds. This series of online lectures follows the winding paths of nigunim and their singers, from the earliest Hasidic Jews to contemporary professional musicians. They will bring to life musical worlds ranging from the synagogue to Spotify, showing how men and women have adapted the tradition for ritual, emotional expression, and art.
Yale Institute of Sacred Music
Jeremiah Lockwood is a scholar and musician, working in the fields of Jewish studies, performance studies, and ethnomusicology. Both his music performance and scholarship gravitate toward the Jewish liturgical music and Yiddish expressive culture of the early twentieth century, and the reverberations of this cultural moment in present day communities. Lockwood’s research considers the work of cantors as arbiters of social, intellectual, and aesthetic change in times of crisis and cultural transformation. Jeremiah received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 2021. His book project, Golden Ages: Brooklyn Hasidic Cantorial Revival in the Digital Era (under contract with the University of California Press), illuminates the work of contemporary Hasidic cantors who embrace early twentieth-century cantorial music as a nonconforming aesthetic and spiritual practice that cuts against the grain of musical and social norms of American Jewish life. Jeremiah was a 2022–23 Yale Institute of Sacred Music Fellow, where he conducted research on the khazente phenomenon of gramophone-era women performers of cantorial music and composed a new piece of music responding to this fecund moment in Jewish musical history. Jeremiah has recorded more than a dozen albums over a music career that spans decades with his band The Sway Machinery and other projects.
Cosponsored by the Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Klatt Family and the Harry Stern Family Foundation.