Intercultural musicking: Reflection in, on, and for klezmer ensemble performance

Richard Fay, Daniel Mawson

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper focuses on the role of reflection in our students' experience of klezmer ensemble performance.
Klezmer is the largely dance-based musical culture of Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazi Jewish communities in Eastern Europe. With roots back to the Middle Ages and a rich migratory history, its more recent revival activities have, not without controversy (Waligórska, 2013), led to it being performed more widely and with changing functions.
Our klezmer ensemble (founded in 2011) is linked to an assessed module in ensemble performance taken by music undergraduates in a department with ‘Western’ music theory and practice at its core despite becoming more diverse in recent years. The klezmer ensemble - with its opportunities for performance both in the music department and in local community contexts - functions, we hope, as a space for intercultural musicking (Small, 1998) through which students' develop transmusicality and intercultural awareness (Fay, Mawson and Bithell, 2022). We aspire for the teaching and learning to be critically underpinned, alert to the need for appropriacy and to avoid being appropriative (Fay and Mawson, 2021). Accordingly, the students learn to perform klezmer in a culturally- and historically-informed way but also with a keen eye on the situatedness of their contemporary performances. This objective is framed by processes of reflection, in, on, and for performance.

Having introduced klezmer and outlined our klezmer education music department context and course design, we focus on the role of reflection linked to the situatedness of klezmer ensemble performance. In particular, we examine the reflective texts and associated curated video performances produced by the online zoom-generation (2020-21) during the pandemic.

Our learning regarding the value of such reflective practice is now a part of our aspiring methodology with the post-pandemic onsite generations of students.

Fay, R., & Mawson, D.J. (June, 2021). Appropriate, no appropriative, methodology: (Online) klezmer ensemble performance as intercultural musicking. ISSME2021 conference, online 21st-24th June, 2021. Available:

Fay, R., Mawson, D. J., & Bithell, C. (2022). Intercultural musicking: Learning through klezmer. Languages & Intercultural Communication, 22:2, pp,=.204-220, DOI: 10.1080/14708477.2022.2029467

Small, C. (1998). Musicking: The meanings of performing and listening. Wesleyan University Press.

Waligórska, M. (2013). Klezmer’s afterlife: An ethnography of the Jewish music revival in Poland and Germany. Oxford University Press.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2022
EventREACT Symposium - Lulea University of Technology, Lulea, Sweden
Duration: 21 Sept 202224 Sept 2022


ConferenceREACT Symposium


  • intercultural musicking
  • klezmer
  • klezmer ensemble performance
  • reflection in, on, and for performance
  • situated performance


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