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USD Celebrates Yiddish Art, Culture and History

green violin image

VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota hosts a celebration of Yiddish art, culture, and history this spring that includes programs and events across campus and throughout the community, culminating in the theatre department’s production of “Green Violin” directed by associate professor Chaya Gordon-Bland.

The play tells the story of the passionate friendship and artistic collaboration between Marc Chagall and Solomon Mikhoels and reveals the rich and complex world of Soviet Yiddish history, arts and culture.

The kick-off event on Feb. 28, held from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in Old Main’s Farber Hall, is a lecture titled “The Green Violinist—The Music Behind the Chagall Painting” by Hankus Netsky, chair of the New England Conservatory’s Contemporary Improvisation Department. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Here are the other events:

  • March, exhibit “The Kolor of Klezmer,” featuring instruments used in Klezmer music during the 19th century in Eastern European Jewish communities. National Music Museum.
  • March 29-31, symposium “Sound, Color, Shape…,” an exploration of the human experience through music, art, drama, neuroscience, history, mathematics and words. USD Department of Music.
  • March 30, 1 p.m., as part of the symposium, artists from USD Theatre’s “Green Violin” production team will present “Translating the Aesthetics of Marc Chagall into Theatrical Design and Production,” in the Warren M. Lee Center for Fine Arts.
  • April 10-May 12, exhibit by contemporary Jewish artist Tanya Hartman in Gallery 110, Warren M. Lee Center for Fine Arts. Hartman received her M.F.A. in painting from Yale University, and teaches painting and drawing at the University of Kansas.
  • April 20, 12:30 p.m., USD Student History Conference features Glenn Dynner as keynote speaker in the Muenster University Center. Dynner is a scholar of Eastern European Jewry and author of “Men of Silk: The Hasidic Conquest of Polish Jewish Society.”
  • April 19-23, USD Department of Theatre presents “Green Violin,” with a special talk-back with playwright Elise Thoron and composer Frank London following the performance on Thursday, April 20.
  • April 24, 7 p.m., the National Music Museum at the Movies series will feature “Fiddler on the Roof”, the award-winning 1971 movie-musical classic, at the Coyote Twin Theatre in downtown Vermillion with an introduction by Deborah Reeves, curator of education at the National Music Museum.

The campus-wide celebration, which also includes scholarship and research, is supported by the South Dakota Humanities Council, and USD’s Center for Diversity and Community, Center for Teaching and Learning, College of Fine Arts, College of Arts and Sciences, Departments of History, Music and Theatre, and the I.D. Weeks Library.


USD's College of Arts & Sciences offers students a top-notch undergraduate liberal arts education in the humanities, social sciences and sciences as well as graduate programs that have earned USD distinction as a research university by the Carnegie Foundation. The college's more than 22,000 alumni include famous journalists, Hollywood screenwriters, novelists, a Nobel Prize winner, South Dakota governors, attorneys, physicians, justices of the state Supreme Court, distinguished university faculty and international humanitarians.


USD's College of Fine Arts encourages students to pursue their chosen professional field in art, music or theater through their study with nationally recognized faculty who are working professionals. Students learn and grow to be professional fine artists with great job potential anywhere in the country. The college offers opportunities for additional real-world experiences through work with guest artists, study tours abroad and opportunities at the National Music Museum and the University Art Galleries on the Vermillion campus and the Black Hills Playhouse in Custer State Park. The college brings more than 80 guests artists to campus annually to work with students.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.