Isabel FREY, MA
(Principal Investigator of "Challenging the Theater of Memory: Yiddish Song beyond Kitsch and Stereotype")



Isabel Frey is a Yiddish singer and PhD candidate in the Structured Doctoral Program "Music Matters" at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. She has a background in medical anthropology and sociology, a field that she has also published peer-reviewed articles in. Her current research deals with the politics of Yiddish folksong, the practices of oral transmission and the current developments in creating new Yiddish songs. Her project combines her passion for Yiddish music with the anthropology of the voice and the body and ethnomusicological minority research. It is located between the disciplines of ethnomusicology, cultural studies and gender studies, but also draws on theories from Jewish, Yiddish and diaspora studies. In her PhD project, she also combines her artistic work with her research, conducting ethnographic fieldwork in Yiddish music workshops and master classes that she also received artistic scholarships for. The artistic research pilot project "Challenging the Theater of Memory. Yiddish Song beyond Kitsch and Stereotype"  is a further step in this direction to link research with artistic practice.

As a performer, Isabel Frey specializes in Yiddish revolutionary songs and continuing the tradition of Jewish social justice activism both on stages and at political protests. She regularly performs Yiddish music either as a soloist, in the duo Soveles or with the Isabel Frey Trio. She has performed at various international festivals and venues, such as the KlezMORE Festival Bratislava, the Singera Festival in Warsaw or the Willy Brandt Center in Jerusalem. In September 2020 she released her debut album "Millenial Bundist" with Yiddish revolutionary and resistance songs. For the time period of 2023/2024 she has been selected for the New Sound of Austrian Music (NASOM) support program by the Austrian foreign ministry. She has also been interviewed and featured by national and international media such as radio Ö1, ORF2, Deutschlandfunk, Ha’aretz or InGeveb. Additionally, she is the founder and general secretary of the Yiddish cultural association "Friling."