Mark L. Kligman, a renowned expert on Jewish music, has been named the inaugural holder of the Mickey Katz Endowed Chair in Jewish Music at UCLA. He joined the faculty of the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture on July 1. Kligman's primary appointment will be in the department of ethnomusicology, and he will hold a joint appointment in the department of musicology in the UCLA College.
"Dr. Mark Kligman is a distinguished scholar of Jewish music whose knowledge covers the field widely, from sacred liturgical traditions to contemporary popular music,” said Christopher Waterman, dean of the School of the Arts and Architecture. “As the inaugural holder of the Mickey Katz Endowed Chair in Jewish Music he will help push UCLA to the forefront in this important field of study and play a role in extending the Herb Alpert School of Music’s reputation as a center for the study of music in all of its rich, worldwide diversity.”
The Mickey Katz Chair in Jewish Music was established through a $1 million gift from philanthropists and longtime UCLA donors Ron and Madelyn Katz in 2007 in honor of Ron’s late father, Mickey Katz, a master musician, comedian and performer who popularized klezmer music for a broad audience. The endowed chair is intended to help preserve and expand the study of Jewish music on the UCLA campus.
Funding from the chair has been used to support graduate students and postdoctoral fellows; underwrite research efforts and innovative teaching methods; foster educational activities; and finance related special projects. With the appointment of Kligman, it will now support the teaching and research activities of a distinguished faculty member affiliated with the department of ethnomusicology.
Mickey Katz first gained fame as a member of Spike Jones’ renowned City Slickers band in the late 1940s and went on to record more than a dozen albums under his own name with Capitol Records. His virtuosity on the clarinet and saxophone and his klezmer style and Yiddish versions of popular songs made him a hit on Broadway and at Borscht Belt resort hotels popular with Jewish New Yorkers at the time. He is probably best remembered for his humor and the unabashed way that he embraced his ethnicity and used it to connect with his audience.
Originally from Los Angeles, Mark Kligman was educated at the University of Michigan and New York University, and he earned his doctorate at NYU in 1997. Before joining UCLA, he was on the faculty of the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, where he taught at the School of Sacred Music beginning in1994.
Kligman’s main area of scholarly expertise is the liturgical music of Middle Eastern Jewish communities. Working primarily in the discipline of ethnomusicology, he has explored the rich interconnection of music and cultural life in Mediterranean contexts. His book "Maqam and Liturgy: Ritual, Music, and Aesthetics of Syrian Jews in Brooklyn" (2009) was named a Jordan Schnitzer Book Award Notable Selection in the category of Jewry and the arts by the Association for Jewish Studies.
Kligman has taught at Columbia University, Rutgers University, UC Santa Cruz, Brandeis University, Florida Atlantic University and the University of Pennsylvania, where in 2001 he was a research fellow and visiting professor at the Center for Judaic Studies, studying contemporary trends in Jewish music. He is the academic chair of the Jewish Music Forum and co-editor of Musica Judaica.
“The Katz family is thrilled at the appointment of Mark Kligman as the inaugural holder of the Mickey Katz Chair,” said Ron Katz. “I am sure Dad would be pleased.”
The UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture (UCLA Arts) plays a vital role in the cultural and artistic life of the campus and the great Los Angeles community. The school attracts artists, architects, dancers, designers, musicians and scholars, who draw on the school's unique curriculum, which interweaves work in performance, studio and research studies, providing students with a solid creative, artistic and intellectual foundation, as well as a liberal arts education from one of the country's finest research universities. Students gain a global view of the arts while integrating contemporary practice and theory in their chosen discipline.
Providing a full range of academic degree programs and public arts programs, the school comprises six degree-granting units: Architecture and Urban Design, Art, Design | Media Arts, World Arts and Cultures/Dance, and the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, which houses the departments of Ethnomusicology and Music. The school also houses six centers: the Art and Global Health Center, the Art | Sci Center, cityLAB, the Experiential Technologies Center, the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts and the NOW Institute; two museums, the Fowler Museum at UCLA and the Hammer Museum; and a major performing arts program: the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA.