Finishing out this mini-season of Radiant Others with a very special 2-part interview with the amazing Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, or as she’s known among the klezmer world, BKG. Barbara is a groundbreaking scholar in Jewish and Performance Studies, a University Professor at the Tisch School at NYU, and the Chief Curator of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. I knew of Barbara from her lectures at Klezkamp and Klezkanada, and from the incredibly high praise of her I heard from her peers and many students in the Yiddish world. Her name also came up more than once when talking with people about the early klezmer revival in the course of making this podcast, so I knew I had to talk to her.
This is the first time she and I have had the chance to really sit down and get to know each other and it was amazing. So amazing in fact that I’ve decided to break our conversation into two episodes, today’s, covering her earlier life and career, and a second episode that I’ll release next week covering her experience creating the POLIN museum and how her work and life is interacting with the state of Poland’s political climate today. It’s clear to me that Barbara’s work has had a big influence on many of klezmer’s scholars and artists alike. It’s my true pleasure to share this conversation.
“A Yur Nukh Mayn Khasenes” & “Di Yerishe Fin Mayn Zeydn” by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, from Az du furst avek: A Yiddish Folksinger from the Bukovina