ARTISTIC CONTROL AND PARTNERSHIP: JEWISH STUDIES PROGRAMS AND THE INCUBATION OF NEW MUSICAL WORKS.
To me, the evening also represented the latest in a string of new creative works brought into existence by coordinating my institution's Jewish Studies resources with strategic campus partnerships. None of the student performers were formally affiliated with Jewish Studies, and few would see their experience as an opportunity to connect to that field. Yet the partnership resonated with the Jewish Studies program's goals, due to the original story's longstanding association with Holocaust education programs, and psychology-based discussions of social obedience (Brand, ed., 1980, 374-77; Hewes 1981; Horn 1976, 14, 16-17; Jones 2011; "Warten auf den Fuhrer" 1976, 128; "The Wave Home: Chronology" 2019). Supporting Matias and Treat's work offered continued insight into the pragmatic side of musical creation, which in turn contributed to aesthetics-based Jewish Studies scholarship.
In this article, I approach the topic of Jewish music as a dynamic study of institutional initiatives--a perspective, I believe, as useful to understanding the field as the sound itself. Dig deeper into many musical works, and what at first appears as a freestanding flight of creativity becomes a product of support by communal groups, organizations, and foundations--most of which carry benevolent if conservative ideological agendas (Cohen 2015a). A now-classic work of Jewish music such as Ernest Blochs 1932 Sacred Service could not exist without a commission from San Francisco's Temple Emanu-El, and its cantor Reuben Rinder's program to engage respected composers for the purpose of elevating the American Reform movement's Union Prayer Book ritual (Fruhauf 2018, 98-104). Similarly, Galeet Dardashti has shown that the recent popularity of communal piyyut (Jewish devotional poem) singing in Israel and the United States came directly from a campaign to invigorate religious discourse among secular Jews by the private American-Jewish philanthropy The Avi Chai Foundation (Dardashti 2007). Even what we acknowledge today as the academic field of Jewish music scholarship relied heavily on decisions by the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Hebrew Union College to include music in their curricula around the turn of the twentieth century, and on the instrumentalization of research by scholars as Abraham Z. Idelsohn and Eric Werner to revitalize communal interest in synagogue worship (Cohen 2008, Cohen 2010). As scrutiny of academic funding sources and their influences on the shape of scholarship becomes a topic of increasing interest, then, we must also explore the complex ways that institutions and their agendas have historically developed "Jewish music," its innovations, its (re)definitions of sonic tradition, and, most significantly for this article, musical production itself.
While I have explored such dynamics historically within Jewish-focused institutions, here I turn my attention to academy-focused college- and university-based Jewish Studies ptogtams as incubators of musical works, a matter that I address through a kind of autoethnography. Many humanistic fields, including literature, have wrestled with calls for "applied" work, described by ethnomusicologist Tan Sooi Beng as "a methodology that aims at solving concrete problems father than hypothetical ones" (2015, 109). Jewish Studies, which often needs to balance its theoretical orientation with existential commitments to fundraising and community building, faces a particular variant of this call. Scholars in Jewish Studies programs seek to emphasize their intellectual contributions, yet in doing so can find themselves in the middle of communal conversations about cultural preservation, continuity, and "heritage" learning (Prell 2006, 8). Successful application of research in this setting can thus require a healthy mediation between the academy's nonsectarian approach to Judaism and the personal beliefs that often suppoft the field.
I come to this topic as a participant-observer and admitted "culture broker." As the holder of an endowed chair in Jewish culture and the arts at Indiana University, with access to a separate arts-focused donor-endowed fund, I recognize my own elite status in this ecosystem. As with the larger academic scene, however, working from this position also allows me to reflect on the ontology of "art" in higher education. Most significantly, it allows me to explore a growing turn to artistic collaboration as a form of applied scholarship (Evans 2017). By offering resources to artists to develop works-in-progress, Jewish Studies can bring nascent but promising creations to public view, aiding their survival in a crowded and uncertain marketplace while exploring them locally as intellectual "texts." Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt, in a similarly privileged experiment, interrogated the idea of "cultural mobility" by commissioning various theater groups to create their own versions of a lost Shakespeare play, under the expansive premise that Shakespeare himself never expected that his works would ever be forced to take a definitive form (Greenblatt 2009). Jewish Studies programs, I argue, can approach music in a similar fashion, facilitating musical creation that activates Jewishly significant narratives, contributes to discussions of cultural production, and opens a meaningful conversation about the nature of creativity, the "wofk," and the very field of "Jewish music."
More pointedly, by drawing on three artist residencies at Indiana University between 2014 and 2018, I openly challenge subtle hierarchical divisions often made between theoretical scholarship and practical artistic activity. Instead, I opt to look at academic-artistic partnerships as a central scholarly pursuit that has historically generated both primary works and secondary supporting literature. This approach recognizes our obligations as scholars to understand the real entanglements that arts-focused fields have with academic pursuits, including the axiom that the subjects of scholarly attention often experience increased communal capital as a result. By shifting perspective to see musicians--and indeed all artists--as intellectuals in their own right who rely on extratextual yet complementary forms of expression to explore complex ideas, Jewish Studies can gain a more realistic view of its role in a long-standing and multi-mediated discourse that bridges academic and communal structures (Jewish Music Research Centre n.d.; Netsky 2016; New Budapest Orpheum Society n.d.).
JEWISH ARTS: FUNDING CULTURAL SUSTAINABILITY
In a Jewish communal world that often sees social engineering as a means of alleviating anxiety over the future of Jewish peoplehood and commitment, the arts occupy a complex site for initiatives aimed at "reimagining Jewishness" (Fishman et al. 2011). The small, segmented nature of Americas Jewish population frequently leads organizations to approach local arts-related creativity as investments in community rather than as financially sustainable efforts. Jewish organizations commonly turn to art as a public statement of peoplehood, whether to debate the identity of a Jewish nation-state such as Israel or to promote discussions about Jewish identity within larger host populations. Jewish communal professionals, moreover, have come to see "the arts" as a particularly useful mode for hearing and serving the needs of "young people"--an ambiguously defined demographic that sociologists identify as both central to the future of Judaism and authors of a "major paradigm shift" in Jewish identity who "perceive cultural expressions--rather than tribal identification--as the core of their ethnic connections" (Fishman 2011,160). As but one example, the Covenant Foundation, a major fund devoted to "Celebrating Excellence and Innovation in Jewish Education," awarded more than $1.66 million to arts-based projects between 2013 and 2017 (Covenant Foundation n.d.).' Many of these programs promote "Jewish Culture" as a means to an end, presenting the arts as a democratic process that improves the richness of Jewish life or the Jewish commitment of its target population.
Other initiatives have focused specifically on supporting Jewish artists to design projects that reflect new ideas about contemporary Jewish life and encourage broader conversations about Jewish identity. One such project during the 2010s, the Artist Lab, linked cohorts of local artists with Jewish institutions in Minneapolis, Kansas City, Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee, and elsewhere, and supported them as they worked on group shows meant to jump-start community dialogues (Covenant Foundation 2015). Artist-supporting initiatives in larger Jewish population centers, especially the Six Points Fellowships in New York and Los Angeles (2006-2013), have relied on sizeable outlays from well-off federations to give successful applicants both a forum for new project creation and professional career management training (Six Points Fellowship n.d.). Beyond just helping artists through small grants, these kinds of programs also encourage them to embrace Jewish identity publicly--thereby actively embodying the model of the "Jewish" artist.
Yet these Jewish foundation-funded initiatives also come with the expectation, based on funders' giving principles, that the arts enrich the vitality of Jewish life in a kind of battle against complacency or entropy Programs such as the Six Points Fellowships, for example, developed their philosophy of Jewish-focused artistry on findings from internally commissioned research showing that young Jews from ages eighteen to thirty-plus "are drawn to events that promise to cross boundaries between Jews and non-Jews, Jews and Jews, Jewish space and non-Jewish space, and distinctively Jewish culture with putatively non-Jewish culture" (Cohen and Kelman 2005, 6). (2) "Crossing boundaries," in these frameworks, became a recognized way to reinforce the centet of Jewish identity, thus justifying the arts as a worthwhile investment.
THE JEWISH STUDIES PROGRAM: BUILDING TOWARD COLLABORATION
In this context, the Jewish Studies programs that proliferated in colleges and universities from the 1970s onward occupy a complicated role. Many such programs gained footing by balancing broader trends toward academic expansion with communal concerns about support for Jewish students in the nonsectatian collegiate environment (Ritterband and Wechsler 1994, 216-36). While Jewish Studies in this period relied on expanding curriculum and faculty, developing programs' continued interface with motivated donors also led to a public presence through endowed lectures and events. By the turn of the twenty-first century, favored Jewish-identified artists could thus conceivably construct tours of campuses through combined funding from Jewish Studies centers, Hillels, and other campus groups.
Jewish Studies programs' interest in serving a general campus audience also opened opportunities for new, often multimillion-dollar endowments that emphasized the serious study and documentation of the arts among Jewish populations. Frequently these programs combined the academic accoutrements of conferences, publications, and archives creation with studio-based artist-development activities. During the 2000s, programs such as the Jewish Artists Initiative (University of Southern California), the Conney Project/Conference in Jewish Arts (University of Wisconsin-Madison), the Institute for Jewish Creativity (American Jewish University), and the Schusterman Program for Visiting Israeli Artists (established through partnership with willing campuses) highlighted the university's role as a viable ground for professional-level artistic development. The University of Wisconsin-Madison's Conney Project on Jewish Arts (founded 2006), for example, led to several years of funding renewal; and its involvement with klezmer pioneer Henry Sapoznik paved the way for a $1.5 million endowment creating the Sherry Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture in 2010 (Conney Project on Jewish Arts n.d.; Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture n.d.). (3)
Higher education's status as a site for Jewish artistic investment also presented a viable alternative to Jewish "culture" organizations as they eroded post-2006--exemplified by the 2014 closing of the Foundation for Jewish Culture after more than half a century. In an era of increasingly conservative programming, universities' willingness to support the arts in a manner that eschewed concerns of financial success made them an attractive option.
CASE STUDY: INDIANA UNIVERSITY, JEWISH STUDIES, AND THE ARTS
In 2006,1 joined the Robert A. and Sandra S. Borns Jewish Studies Program at Indiana University to occupy an endowed chair dedicated to Jewish culture and the arts. During my first years, as I created new courses that could integrate the arts and ethnography into the curriculum of the program's major (while also expanding enrolments), I began to work with other Jewish Studies faculty to support a separate, recently funded institute for promoting Jews and the arts. Most of the institute's programming had emphasized one-time visits by internationally celebrated scholars and artists. At a Midwestern university with a large Jewish studies presence but a small local Jewish population, such speakers brought measurable returns both in the number of attendees and in their connection to our program, despite their often hefty fees. Yet these speakers also presented a conundrum for more intensive integration. While they sometimes engaged in meaningful conversations with faculty and students during their visits, these speakers' public appearances largely hewed to a variant of a generic talk. Coming to Indiana University brought us exposure, but rarely changed the course of their work.
Around 2010, the Jewish Studies Program's director suggested the possibility of shifting the institute's resources to focus on longer-term artist residencies intended to help foster new works. Models of this type already existed locally in a number of other Jewish Studies programs, and nationally though widely heralded Jewish-interest foundations. The Schusterman Foundation's Visiting Israeli Artists program (2008-) heavily subsidized two- to four-month visits by Foundation-approved Israeli artists to willing educational institutions (Israel Institute n.d.). The competitive Six Points Arts Fellowships (2006-13), a partnership between the nonprofits JDub Records (2002-11), Avoda Arts (1999-), the Foundation for Jewish Culture, and the UJA-Federation of New York (and eventually teplicated with the Los Angeles Federation), offered $40,000 two-year grants and professional assistance for "developing" artists (i.e., known but not mainstream) with Jewish-themed projects (eJP 2013). However, acknowledging our status as a nonsectarian institution, rather than the explicitly Jewish community-centered missions of these other funds, we moved forward under a philosophy that recognized artists as intellectuals in their own right, and the creative process as its own scholarly endeavor. Consequently, over the course of several seasons, we devised a flexible program that allowed young artists the space and resources they needed to develop a current project in a timeframe that fit their emerging careers, while working directly with students in some way.
As with many Jewish Studies initiatives, the challenge lay less in funding than in practicalities: finding housing, rehearsal space, buy-in from other campus units, and student investment on a campus that already produced far more culture than it could consume. In an eatly iteration, Yiddish music luminary Michael Alpert came to campus for a semester to teach a klezmer performance class through the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology. We quickly realized, however, that out significant faculty interest in Yiddish culture did not translate to a built-in undergraduate Yiddish music cohort. Thus, although the class's end-of-semester concert featured a sizeable group, the few registered students were gready outnumbered by a much larger number of local musicians, presenting a complicated resolution for a campus event.
In a subsequent year, we instituted an application process that required artists to identify a specific project they would work on while in residence. Our call for applications seemed to disappear into the ether, however, which quickly led to a more sustainable invitation-based model. Turning to an artist/scholar/colleague's recommendation, I made arrangements with director Annie Levy and actor Franny Silverman for a nearly monthlong residency. Rather than trying to build an audience on our own, we partnered with a special-interest campus dormitory that ran its own artist-in-residence program: while Jewish Studies supported the artists' stipends, travel, and work development needs, the dorm provided room, board, course co-sponsorship, and a student community. The atrangement was effective. On weekends, the pair taught an intensive devised theater course for undergraduates. On weekdays, they collaborated on a devised theater piece called "The Latvia Project," which drew on Levy's family history. At the end of the month, an hout-long multimedia version of "The Latvia Project" premiered at a local black box theater under Jewish Studies' auspices. This work eventually expanded further in New York City into a one-act piece called "Daughter of the Sun: The Latvia Project," buoyed in part by the artists' Indiana University residency (Levy n.d.).
While both the artists and the Jewish Studies Program found this model beneficial, we faced the paradox of high expectations. In contrast with campus units that trade in artistic development, such as studio art, design, music, and theater, attendees at Jewish Studies events often have less experience gauging artistic work in draft form. Artist residencies, like conventional scholarly projects, gained value from an extended dialogue that required both patience and regular discussions about the meaning of work-in-process. Making that dialogue work required a faculty advocate who could earn the artist's trust while justifying the intellectual endeavor's gradual nature to others. As a result, the program's chosen projects shifted organically toward artists who resonated with faculty research agendas, and could be proposed as a kind of interdisciplinary partnership.
While self-serving on the surface, this decision mirrors the advice of professional theater producer Susan Quint Gallin: "For me to be interested in spending at least the next year of my life involved in the work, it needs to have resonance with me personally" (Gallin with Hodges 2006, 70). It also focused the program, allowing me to contextualize subsequent residencies as a part of my personal scholarship, while reducing the need to emphasize public-facing metrics of "success." Artists could come to my attention through people I had consulted or interviewed during research, thus allowing me to approach the development of new artistic work as a crucial part of my deepening knowledge--in essence generating in each residency a bridge to the "real world" that both enhanced and embodied a previously abstract idea. The result brought both me and the program intimately into artists' networks, and led to a unique view of musical works as entities with extended, shifting, and unpredictable trajectories (a marked contrast with prevailing "work-as-monument" paradigms). The ethnographic quality of these encounters, moreover--which in essence created a familiar field at home as a place for scholarly/artistic interaction--helped the Jewish Studies program expand its role as a "patron of the arts" through values consistent with its intellectual mission.
BETWEEN COMMISSION AND CREATION
Like the classic relationship between music and the "social elites" that shaped the trajectory of European art music, the history of music in Jewish life benefits from interwoven stiands of artistic independence, commission (composition induced by an institutions or individual's agenda), competition (the promise of resources and exposure for the "best" work), and commercialism (music as a [hoped-for] self-sustaining commodity) (Taruskin 2010, v. I, xv). In most cases, artistic independence and commercial success proved rare commodities; even compositions by employed cantors and choral directors often had to fit the needs of an ensemble or community. Rather, synagogues, Jewish community centers, and Jewish identity organizations have long relied on commission and competition to revitalize the sound of Jewish ritual and commemoration. Among many examples, The National Council of Jewish Women commissioned a collection of music as a souvenir for the 1893 Jewish Women's Congress at the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition; cantors David Putterman and Reuben Rinder commissioned contemporary composers to create new music for their services at New York's Park Avenue Synagogue and San Francisco's Temple Emanu-El respectively; much of songleader/composer/liturgist Debbie Friedman's early music came about through commissions from Chicago's Temple Sinai; and music competitions from the Society for Advancement of Synagogue Music (1920s), the Israel-based Hassidic Song Festival (1969-19805), Ramon Tasat and Natasha Hirschhorns "Shalshelet: The Foundation for New Jewish Liturgical Music" (2004-), and The Azrieli Music Prizes (2014-) have expanded Jewish musical repertoires (Cohen 2017, 10-18; Friedman 2016, 59-71; Kaiser and Sparger 1893; Putterman, ed., 1951; Regev and Seroussi 2004,126-29; Shalshelet n.d.). Writing for these situations required composers to weigh aesthetic and ideological interests to address the values of the organization and its commissioned judges. As I learned while evaluating proposals for the Six Points Fellowships in 2010, successful applications typically paired concepts of tradition with meaningful philosophies of Jewish peoplehood and preservation.
As an academic program with an intellectual ideological mission, we also maintain a "social elite" status, even as we approach artistic support from a different angle: downplaying religious or communal ends in favor of works with interesting historical and philosophical narratives, music that brings new insight to particular figures or events, or projects that provide unique reflections on music's aesthetic qualities as vessels of meaning and memory. In contrast to Stephen Greenblatt, whose experiment dictated the topic, we aimed to provide artists the resources to complete their own projects rather than commissioning a new work of our choosing. At the same time, our own political, intellectual, and resource-based criteria would become meaningful points of discussion as each project received its first viewings. (4)
WORK #1: DEBORAH HABER AND CASEY FILIACI, MOSES MAN (RESIDENCY SPRING 2014)
In Spring 2013, while I was on a fellowship at Harvard University to research Nazi-era narratives in musical theater, a colleague sent me information about a new musical called Moses Man, slated to premier in Rochester, New York. Created by longtime Rochester Children's Theater director Deborah Haber and composer Casey Filiaci, the piece chronicled the true journey of Haber's family out of Nazi-occupied Vienna, through Cypress, southern Africa, Palestine, Italy, and ultimately (for the survivors) to the United States. Excited about seeing the work-in-progress, and grateful for the privilege of time that the fellowship provided, I drove out to Rochester, saw the work, heard audience reactions in a talk-back format, and interviewed the creators. Trained as an ethnographer, I asked Haber and Filiaci to describe the creative process on their own terms. They did so by turning the mirror on my own position as a university professor. Might Indiana University, they asked openly, provide them a space to continue developing the work? As professional artists, used to the complexities of securing resources in a highly competitive arts marketplace, they taught me the significance of personal connection as a prerequisite for effective artistic development.
Back in Bloomington several months later, we weighed options for the next year's visiting artists. Moses Man became our choice, buoyed by my previous familiarity with the project and its creators at the moment when we needed to make a decision. As with much arts production, we learned, scheduling a fellowship required artists' trust, availability, and readiness with the piece--a much more involved matter than a visit or presentation, since artists often juggled several projects at once and worked on each in turn as funding and time materialized. Knowing Haber and Filiaci's needs beforehand eased that scheduling hurdle, while ensuring that the residency would indeed help the piece in development. They responded enthusiastically, and we negotiated a several-week period during spring 2014 for their visit.
We began by providing housing, a stipend, and resources to support a reading of the latest version of the show. From there, however, we left it to Haber and Filiaci to forge their own relationships with other campus units. Previous experience showed us that units such as the music school and theater department, which controlled their own performance spaces, preferred to make their own programming decisions organically rather than agreeing to funded requests from Jewish Studies--and that such decisions could happen only through meaningful professional and interpersonal relationships. Thus, using her experience as a theater professional, Haber independently appealed to the Department of Theatre and received permission to secure a rehearsal/performance space for their April reading. She similarly secured a reading at the Indianapolis Repertory Theatre. In other words, Haber's continued professional artistic inroads gave the project stability, even as Jewish Studies faculty looked curiously at the developing work. Ultimately this strategy paid off when the Department of Theatre selected the piece for its summer "Premiere Musicals" program. The creators returned under Theatre's auspices in August for three weeks of further development with faculty directors and student actors, and then staged readings seen by about five hundred people (Land and Katic 2014). Similarly, when the New York Musical Theatre Festival chose Moses Man as one of its 2015 productions--again due to Haber and Filiaci's initiative--the residency's value increased. These decisions by theatrical insiders pardy supplanted the more conventional reliance on critic-based (and Jewish Studies faculty-based) evaluations, shifting the conversation toward process rather than unwieldy external expectations of aesthetically "great" work.
WORK #2: DEBORAH YARC HUN, AND YOU SHALL BE A BLESSING (RESIDENCY SPRING 2016)
In 2013, I began to research the life and works of song leader/songwriter/liturgist Debbie Friedman (1951-2011), which included requesting and receiving support from Friedman's sister and mother. A few months later, Friedman's sister contacted me to let me know that she had also given permission to a young playwright, Deborah Yarchun, to write a play about Friedman featuring arrangements of her music. I continued my research, and let this knowledge lie fallow for over a year. When the time came to choose the Jewish Studies Program 2016 artist-in-residence, I followed my contacts and reached out to Yarchun, who expressed interest.
With Yarchun coming off of a year-long residency at another theater, we negotiated a semester-long stay at Indiana University. She would live in the same arts-focused dorm as Levy and Silverman, teach a playwriting course, work on the next draft of her play, network with the Bloomington theater community, and organize a Jewish Studies-supported workshop performance. During the semester, I met with her weekly to discuss her work, exchange ideas about Friedman's life and legacy, help her negotiate Indiana University's administtative systems, and reflect on our respective career trajectories. While seeking to help in any way that I could, I avoided giving unsolicited advice or casting judgment on work-in-progress. Rather, trusting Yarchun's own judgment as a professional with her own language of expression, I looked to her to frame her own questions about narrative and motivation. As with Haber and Filiaci, that approach allowed me to skift the patronizing professorial urge to impose my own structures of knowledge and instead ask what I had to learn from an artist with her own deep investment in a subject of common interest.
Yarchun arranged her own presentation of And You Shall Be a Blessing (with Jewish Studies' assistance) along the Actors' Equity Association-derived theatrical model of the "29-Hour Reading," and used her networking skills to involve artists from a number of units around campus and in town (Benge 2017). She commissioned musical arrangements from students at the Jacobs School of Music, cast actors from the theater program, reserved performance space through the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, and arranged a talkback with the artistic director of a local professional theater company. Yarchun's connection to the Jewish Studies Program also yielded a number of attendees who identified strongly with Friedman and her music, and expressed strong opinions about the treatment of Friedman's character in the play--especially as related to Friedman's known but unemphasized relationships with women. Their engagement with Yarchun, starting the day after the workshop, began awkwardly; but through some mediation it ultimately led Yarchun to pursue additional research, deepening her own experience and developing new areas of support for the show.
WORK #3: OR MATIAS, CHLOE TREAT, AND WILEY DEWEESE, THE WAVE (RESIDENCY FALL 2017-SPRING 2018)
My 2013 Harvard fellowship also led to another artist-in-residence: Or Matias, whose musical The Wave became a two-part collaboration with the Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance in 2017-18. Matias's name came up in a conversation I had with Ron Jones, the teacher-turned--spoken word artist who wrote The Wave's original narrative. Jones had earlier given permission for local youth theater groups to develop musicals based on his work, but told me that he had gtanted Matias the rights to create a commercial ("Broadway Musical") version of his story. Three years later, when the Jewish Studies Program once again sought an artist-in-residence, I thought of Matias and eventually cold-e-mailed him. Matias, who had written some material for the show already, responded enthusiastically to a possible residency to focus on the project. When I brought the possibility up with the Theatre Department, Matias's New York experience generated interest and talk of renewed collaboration.
Music in general requires a team effort; but for musical theater, team-based creativity serves a crucial part of production. Consequently, with the Theatre Department as a partner, the Jewish Studies Program worked closely with Matias on its most elaborate plan to date. We made arrangements for a three-week "29-Hour Reading"-style format with Matias, director Chloe Treat, and music director Wiley DeWeese. (5) Theatre made its musical theater students available for the workshop, and we together arranged for students to submit audition videos to a secure folder months in advance (now an accepted professional practice). After casting, the students received their scripts and musical materials, and learned them in time for the start of rehearsals on October 1, 2017.
Over the next three weeks, under Theatre's watch, the first act of the musical emerged, and a strong rapport developed between the students and the young professional artists. After about a hundred people viewed the three readings of Act I at the end of the workshop, we mutually felt a sense of momentum that spurred us to arrange for the artists' return in January/February to workshop Act II. (Although we applied unsuccessfully for internal grants from the College to support this second round, we combined additional funding in Jewish Studies with funding and administrative support from Theatre.) By the completion of the second workshop in February 2018, Matias, Treat, and DeWeese had a full draft of the musical that could only have materialized through the residency. More than 120 people attended the three leadings; the cast gained experience working with emerging artists connected to the New York scene; the artists had good recordings of their materials; and parents expressed gratitude for their children's experiences with a meaningful narrative. Although the collaboration did little for Jewish Studies enrollments, it expanded an awareness of Jewish Studies' interest in promoting artistic dialogue across the campus.
COLLABORATION AND CRITIQUE
These residencies all required a strong administrative team who understood the university's various logistical and financial systems and could work with administrators from other units to process each project's unique needs. Snags occurred, of course. One artist's (reasonable) request that the university go through her union created legal concerns that required the Theatre Department's assistance, and eventually reached the provost's level. Ultimately, however, the residencies proved to be financially efficient. At about $15-20,000 each, they cost about the same as a short visit by a top name, while providing different and arguably longer-lasting benefits.
One of the central questions surrounding this alternate-benefit landscape lay with the populations that these residencies served. Very few Jewish Studies majors, even those in our specialized Jewish Sacred Music track, engaged with these artists. Rather, the vast majority of participants in their courses, projects, and audiences came from our co-hosting units, where students possessed a more natural fit with the artists' specialties. Part of the situation reflected the character of the Jewish Studies curriculum, which appealed to a more historical and philological set of discourses. At the same time, as Jewish Studies class enrollments and degree program numbers decreased due to shifting student interests after 2008, these projects presented a mode of engagement that asserted Jewish Studies' ability to serve a wide range of students; and they helped other arts-focused units to fulfil their missions in publicly and mutually beneficial ways. Even faculty who did not particularly understand of like the new works appreciated the broader recognition that the Jewish Studies Program received with each collaboration.
The residencies also encouraged scholars to view artists as collaborators, and legitimate intellectuals in their own right. All of the artists with whom I interacted actively engaged in research, and looked to me as a meaningful interlocutor who could help them make their own artistic choices. Yet help, in this case, meant exchanging ideas as equals rather than setting up a hierarchy valuing historical "truth" over creativity. Jewish Studies programs can take an unintentionally patronizing tone in this exchange. When Stanford University described a "Jewish Engagement with the Arts" project in its 2018 newsletter, for example, it framed its interaction with artist-in-residence Saar Magal as an opportunity to impart knowledge, and "bring the most recent insights gained within the academy into the world outside" (Taube Center for Jewish Studies 2016-17). In reality, the residency may have been more of a partnership than the account suggests. Yet the public framing of the residency as an opportunity for the artist to "learn" from those who know, rather than to benefit from the university's resources, misconstrues the artist's role in human discourse. The true potential of these experiences, I have come to believe, can happen only when scholars and artists recognize each other as experts who occupy different but intersecting intellectual circles.
AFTERMATH: PATRONAGE AND THE EXTENDED CREATIVE PROCESS
In all three cases presented here (and others), I have remained in touch with the artists, continuing the conversations started while in residency. Extending these relationships added new dimensions to my understanding of both the artist and the work, enhancing my views about musical creation, its transformation over time, and its sustained imprint from benefactors.
When the creators of Moses Man left Bloomington for the second time in late August 2014, they invited me to join an "advisory board" of consultants for future iterations of the work. And when I attended a performance of Moses Man at the 2015 New York Musical Theatre Festival, Haber asked me to give an impromptu endorsement at the after-party. Since then, as international politics have shifted, I have seen the piece transform into an allegory on the plight of refugees entitled "Finding Home." In spring 2017, Haber came back to Indiana University to exhibit a new version of the work with the Center for the Study of Global Change, collaborating with a photographer of Syrian refugees and shifting the focus of her work to a documentary about art and the refugee experience. I served as one of the coordinators of this event, which reappeared in Bloomington in an enhanced version in early 2019 as "Art & Refugees: Shine the Light."
After completing the semester at Indiana University, Deborah Yarchun moved to New York City, where she continued to work on And You Shall Be a Blessing amid a host of other theatrical projects. We remain in touch through our mutual interests, and continue to talk about the play's future, whether to discuss Yarchun's (ultimately successful) efforts to obtain the rights to use Friedman's music, changes in the latest draft of the piece, new resources, or opportunities for further development.
Matias and Treat, as described in the introduction, brought their student cast and musicians to New York to give two exhibition performances of The Wave for a number of industry insiders. Matias's work on the piece continues apace, with readings of the show at Ars Nova (New York City, November 2018) and the Goodspeed Theatre (East Haddam, Connecticut, January 2019). I receive regular updates on its progress, and continue to consult with Matias on finding resources for future opportunities. Both artists seek to continue their connections with Indiana University as a kind of artistic home away from home.
These experiences have brought the Jewish Studies Program directly into the creative process and, more significantly, into the lives of each artist, serving as part of an extended narrative that more accurately reflects the life of a "work" than we often realize after the fact. In addition to serving as a launching pad for each new piece, the Jewish Studies Program's ability to leverage additional resources for musical development deepens a complex relationship between artist and scholar. And as each visit affected an artist's creative path, so did it provide a new perspective on my own scholarship--and my role as a scholar of the arts. Working with artists, rather than just writing about them, personally sensitizes me to the natute of institutional support in a competitive artistic marketplace, and helps me to reflect more realistically on professional artists' historical strategies for balancing their careers with funding earmarked for "Jewish" programming. I learn from Jewish Studies' efforts to flexibly support new music and other arts, with an eye toward the needs of the artist as well as the institution. The complications that such programs face differ from those of organically arts-oriented programs such as theater, music/ethnomusicology, studio art, and cteative wtiting. Reflecting on these efforts consequently provides a meaningful commentary on the forces that solidify contemporary narratives of "Jewish music."
My Jewish Studies program's support of new music continues apace, taking different formats based on different artistic trajectories. In Spring 2018, the program supported a new recording from its Hillel-affiliated campus Jewish a cappella group (which I founded in 2006 and continue to supervise). And it funded Jacobs School of Music vocal student Anne Slovin's commission of a new setting of Emma Lazarus's emblematic poem "The New Colossus" by local composer Lauren Bernofsky, which Slovin premiered at a Masters recital entitled "I Lift My Lamp: Musical Reflections on Being a Jew" (Bernofsky 2018). Both requests led to consultations: I helped the a cappella group's undergraduate directors understand how non-profit university-based funding worked, and discussed post-recital options for Jewish-themed music programs with Slovin. In addition to familiarizing both artists with institutional funding structures, our support contributed to larger theoretical conversations--questions of balancing demonstrably Jewish repertoire with mainstream pop music in collegiate Jewish a cappella on one hand, and on the other hand the renewed interest in Lazarus's poem as part of ongoing discussion of American immigration policy (Silow-Carroll 2017). (6) Such contributions thus generated "products" that went beyond more traditional ideas of classroom pedagogy and scholarly publishing. Rather, they modelled the skills of bridge-building inherent in Jewish Studies' rise as a field, imbuing young artists with strategies that they could take into their real-world careers.
On a more ambitious scale, in 2014 the Jewish Studies program became a core participant in the Jacobs School of Music's commission of the first full-length opera version of The Diary of Anne Frank. Although the project originated with the Atlanta Opera, concern over financial risk led Indiana University to adopt it. My experience researching musical settings of the diary, combined with my knowledge of its extraordinarily complicated historical rights structure, motivated me to join the effort as a Jewish Studies representative (Cohen 2012a, Cohen 2012b). I moved forward with others at the Jacobs School of Music to secure an internal grant for the production and later consulted on a successful ArtWorks grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The rights and subsequent artistic negotiations indeed took years, but have since resolved to the point of scheduling the opera's premiere for fall 2020, with Jewish Studies providing scholarly and programming support.
The riskier and more labor-intensive process-based model can thus create opportunities for Jewish Studies to build dialogue organically across academic units, while opening longer-term collegial relationships with artists. These alternate artistic approaches open spaces for deep exploration into the topography of artistic collaboration and evaluation, and move us beyond the standard "reviews" of a finished product that often determine a work's merit (and programming). They also help artists to introduce their own professional norms and expectations into Jewish Studies' scholarly vocabulary, expanding our ideas of scholarship to include robustly performative disciplines. Funders, of course, appreciate seeing the Jewish Studies program's name attached to works that subsequently move into the artistic world, thus burnishing the program's reputation for extending its work beyond the university. Commissioning, in this context, becomes a way to bring scholarly and artistic worlds into contact, while accepting in the process the central role that such collaborations have had in the history of Jewish intellectual life.
These experiences prove crucial to our work as scholars, bringing us face-to-face with the real creative processes that we too often approximate from a distance in our research. Forensic studies of literature over the past two decades have shown the importance of understanding the circumstances behind the creation, development, and flexible presentation of works such as Elie Wiesels Night, Christopher Isherwood's The Berlin Stories, and James Joyce's Ulysses, including several layers of editing as they traversed languages, publication formats, and national borders (Crispi 2016; Parker 2004, 569-70; Seidman 1996). Seen through a musical lens, artist-in-residence opportunities recreate conditions for musical creation that have been in play for centuries, allowing deeper scholarly insight in both the short and long term, and allowing a direct engagement with the creative process in all of its contingencies and complications. By understanding Jewish music through these practical angles, the meaningful relationships Jewish Studies programs and their faculty can establish with musical artists can expand our view of scholarship, while helping to support the works from which, presumably, the next canon of Jewish music can emerge.
JUDAH M COHEN is the Lou and Sybil Mervis Professor of Jewish Culture and Associate Professor of Musicology at Indiana University. His works include The Making of a Reform Jewish Cantor: Musical Authority, Cultural Investment (2009), Sounding Jewish Tradition: The Music of Central Synagogue (2011), and Jewish Religious Music in Nineteenth-Century America (2019). He has also published extensively on Caribbean Jewish history, including his monograph Through the Sands of Time: A History of the Jewish Community of St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. His current projects include explorations of World War II-era narratives in musical theater and of nineteenth-centuty American synagogue music as well as a biography of Debbie Friedman.
(1.) The numbers in this article were determined based on a perusal of awarded grants that prominently mentioned artistic media from the Covenant Foundation. While admittedly a rough estimate, this number does not include grants that mention the arts in service to larger STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math)-focused and computing-focused initiatives. Totals varied widely from year to year, with 2016 at the lowest ($111,000) and 2014/15 at the highest levels (c. $485,000 each year).
(2.) Cohen and Kelman's work is one of a number of such studies from the early 2000s funded by culture/arts-based engagement organizations, including Reboot.
(3.) Sapoznik directed the Mayrent Institute between 2010 and 2017.
(4.) The crucial matter of politics deserves some comment. Artistic wotks, often justified as personal creative expressions, can also easily be caught up in debates around their creators' political affiliations. In 2017, for example, a New York reading of Dan Fishback's musical Rubble Rubble, sponsored by the academically oriented American Jewish Historical Society, was cancelled after an organized outside campaign included Fishback's association with the BDS-supporting Jewish Voice for Peace as part of a vocal protest against the organization (the musical itself appeared to be of secondary concern). The unpleasant fallout included a counterprotest on grounds of artistic freedom, and the ultimate departure of the organization's executive director (Lithgow 2017). Such events reinforced the importance of treating artist residencies with the same care as other public events, rather than treating them as a separate category.
(5.) The Actors' Equity Association's established guidelines for the 29-Hour Reading--twenty-nine hours' work maximum over a two-week period--applied only to Equity members.
(6.) For artistic responses, see among a number of examples Tim Robbins's play of the same name, premiered in Los Angeles by The Actors' Gang in February 2018 (Actors' Gang Ensemble and Robbins 2018).
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JUDAH M. COHEN INDIANA UNIVERSITY
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|Author:||Cohen, Judah M.|
|Publication:||Studies in American Jewish Literature|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2019|
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