Journey West - September 9 at 8:15 pm

The Jewish Studies Program at Ithaca College is sponsoring a multimedia concert by Journey West, an ensemble specializing in Jewish Klezmer and other Eastern European music. It will be held on Saturday, September 9, at 8:15 pm in the Hockett Family Recital Hall in the James J. Whalen Center for Music on the Ithaca College campus.

The concert is free and open to the public.

Journey West is an ensemble of five musicians who play fifteen different instruments. Their wide-ranging repertoire includes Klezmer music, Middle Eastern music, music from across Europe, and traditional American fiddle music. They have presented concerts and workshops throughout the United States and in Belgium. For this concert Journey West will be joined by Imad Yassin, an Iraqi violinist, and Basam Batbouta, an oud player from Syria.

The program will emphasize the relationship of Jewish musical traditions to the regions where Jews have lived, and Journey West will be performing selections from the Mizrahi (Middle Eastern and North African), Sephardic and Ashkenazic diasporas. Combining projected maps with music, the group will trace the Sephardic Diaspora as it left Spain in 1492. One of the most widespread songs throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East may have originated in a Jewish composer in Spain as far back as 1492. Journey West will also portray the influence of Roma, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman classical music on the development and evolution of Klezmer music via the musical folk traditions of Romania.

Journey West tracks melodies and changing instrumentation, beginning in the Middle East, traveling through Eastern and Western Europe, and finally arriving in the United States. The program illuminates the primary factors in carrying melodies to distant lands: wars, imperialism, nomadic dispersions, mass emigrations due to political oppression, and musical crazes that sweep the globe.

Journey West supports and performs with refugee musicians and donates 5% of their income from performance fees and CD sales directly to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). For more information see

The concert is co-sponsored by Ithaca College’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Engagement, the Anthropology Department of Ithaca College, and Group 73 of Amnesty International, Ithaca, NY. (Full list of sponsors in preparation).

For more information about the concert, please contact Rebecca Lesses, Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Jewish Studies Program at or 607-274-3556. Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations should also contact her as soon as possible to make arrangements for attendance.

photo of Journey West at a performance in Belgium