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The Soundtrack of Israeli History

By Ryan Hiller

The AU Music and History Departments and the Wackerlin Center welcomed Musicologist and pianist Assaf Shelleg for a lecture on the Soundtrack of Israeli History in the Crimi Auditorium on Monday.

“We are here to discuss how Jewish music recorded history,” said Shelleg. His lecture gave a brief history of pre- and post-statehood Israel. Musical pieces were selected that showed the progression of Jewish thinking as they emancipated themselves from European communities and established their cultural identity in Israel.

Shelleg played a selection of songs dating from the mid-1920s through 2004. Songs such as “Shuftiah” showed the borrowing of cultural practices from the neighboring Arab communities, while the “(Bumper) Sticker Song” showed the modern influence that western hip-hop has had on Israeli culture. The various songs showed the cultural progression through music over the past 70 years.

The event was attended by approximately 70 AU students and faculty members who participated in a short Q & A session following the lecture.

Shelleg is the 2011-12 Israeli Visiting Assistant Professor in the Jewish Studies Program at UVA. Shelleg expands on the ideas he discussed in his forthcoming book Jewish Contiguities and the Soundtrack of Israeli History.