Steven Cassedy headlines Jewish Music Festival

Since 1980, Steven Cassedy has been a faculty member in the department of literature at UCSD, where he is professor of Slavic and comparative literature and associate dean of graduate studies. But he is also an accomplished musician who will headline the ninth annual San Diego Jewish Music Festival with a series of three conversations from the piano on May 13, 20 and 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, Jacobs Family Campus.

“Steven Cassedy is well known for his ability to reveal the creative heart and soul,” said Roselyn Pappelbaum, Music Festival chair. “He is not only a scholar, but a fine musician himself. His presentations from the piano are always entertaining and insightful.”

Each of Cassedy’s lecture-recitals will give particular emphasis to music written for the piano and will include both demonstration and performance at the piano.

His first performance will be on Tuesday, May 13, at 7:30 p.m. Titled “Arnold Schoenberg,” the performance tells the tale of Europe’s most radical composer as he rejects Judaism, overthrows the conventional rules of classical music, quarrels with his Russian friend, Wassily Kandinsky, and later returns to his faith.

His second performance will take place Tuesday, May 20, at 7:30 p.m. The performance is titled “Jerome Kern and George Gershwin” and deals with how the Jewish immigrant experience met and shaped popular culture in America.

Cassedy’s third performance will take place Tuesday, May 27, at 7:30 p.m. The performance is titled “Ernest Bloch and Darius Milhaud” and uses European musical modernism to pay tribute to Jewish Scriptures and religious rites.

On his mother’s side, Cassedy is descended from a line of Lithuanian rabbis and Talmudic scholars. On his father’s, he is descended from an Irish immigrant who came to the United States in 1793. He began his musical studies at the age of 6. From 1965 till his graduation from high school in 1970, he attended the Juilliard School Pre-College Division in New York City, studying piano, trumpet and composition. At the University of Michigan, while majoring in comparative literature, he continued his piano training at the School of Music with Benning Dexter and Louis Nagel.

Last summer he presented an Encounter program titled Beethoven the Romantic for the La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest, at Sherwood Auditorium in La Jolla.