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“Mixing through Music: Explorations Across Religious, Ethnic, and National Divisions in 1990s Israel” with Dr. Benjamin Brinner

Wednesday, December 8, 2021 4 Tevet 5782

7:15 PM - 8:15 PMCBS

Some fairly radical musical changes began in Israel in the early 1990s, during the first Palestinian uprising (Intifada). The  signing of the Oslo accords between Israel and the PLO in 1993, bringing hope of peaceful coexistence, stoked energy and enthusiasm for musical invention and collaborations sorts involving Jews, Muslims, and Christians, Israelis and Palestinians. Musicians experimented with weaving together various sources, creating new ensembles and compositions, and playing for a greater variety of audiences than had been imaginable a few years before.

In this presentation Ben Brinner, UC Berkeley professor of music, will share the stories of some pioneering bands and individual musicians, playing some of their recordings and tracing the paths they took to collaboration and experimentation, as well as some of the fallout of the political upheaval in ensuing years. Brinner’s book Playing across a Divide: Israeli-Palestinian Musical Encounters  (2009) was based on research conducted between 1991 and 2007.

Benjamin Brinner is an ethnomusicologist and professor of Music at U.C. Berkeley. A native of Berkeley, he completed a BA degree in musicology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Returning to Berkeley he completed MA and PhD degrees in ethnomusicology in the Department of Music at U. C. Berkeley, specializing in Javanese gamelan and conducting research in Indonesia with the support of a Fulbright fellowship. Upon completion of his doctoral studies he returned to Israel to teach full-time at Tel Aviv University and part-time at the Hebrew University and the Jerusalem Music Center. Three years later he was back in Berkeley, as an assistant professor in the Department of Music, where he has taught since 2021.

Ben Brinner has pursued research in Israel and Indonesia on how musicians attain and utilize musical knowledge, memorize and recall compositions, improvise, and interact in performance. His book Playing Across a Divide: Israeli-Palestinian Musical Encounters (Oxford University Press, 2009) was accorded the Society for Ethnomusicology’s highest award, the Alan P. Merriam Prize for Outstanding Book in Ethnomusicology in 2010. He continues to conduct research in Israel on various aspects of contemporary musical life.

Brinner’s first book, Knowing Music, Making Music: Javanese Gamelan and the Theory of Musical Competence and Interaction (University of Chicago Press, 1995) was awarded ASCAP’s Deems Taylor Prize in 1996. He has also written a textbook on Javanese music, published by Oxford University Press. With Javanese master musician Midiyanto, he cofounded and continues to codirect UC Berkeley’s Javanese gamelan performing ensemble, which performs several concerts each year on campus and in other locations in Northern California.

In addition to teaching and research, Brinner has also served as Chair of the Department of Music (2009-2014), as the Helen Diller Family Faculty Director of the Center for Jewish Studies (2015-2020), and as the Interim Esther and Jacques Reutlinger Director of the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life (2020-2021).

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Tue, January 25 2022 23 Sh'vat 5782