International Studies & Programs

Klezmer music will stay with student forever

The last performance in Masada was unforgettable for its scenic outlook and historical significance, almost 1,500 feet above the Dead Sea and Masada Desert.

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Published: Thursday, 07 Dec 2023 Author: Luke Haight

Luke holding saxophone in stone doorway in IsraelMusic has the capability to transcend human differences and unite people from all walks of life through its universal melodies. Nearly 11 years ago, when I began learning saxophone, I could have never imagined where music would lead me-- or how much it would impact the people around me.

While playing saxophone at Michigan State University, I have had the privilege to perform in several remarkable ensembles including the Symphony Band, Concert Band, and Spartan Marching Band. My interest in chamber music sparked when I began playing in my saxophone quartet, PULSE, and my reed quintet, The Goat Rodeo. As a student in the College of Music, I was itching to participate in an education abroad suited for classical saxophonists. Luckily, during my final semester of undergrad, I discovered the "Chamber Music Education Abroad Program in Israel."

I spent 11 days traveling through Israel visiting cities such as Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, Masada, and the Dead Sea region. Luke and friends at night taking a selfie on a bridge in IsraelIn Tel Aviv, I had the opportunity to attend an unforgettable Klezmer workshop where I learned all about Klezmer music and its significance to Israeli culture. In this workshop, I developed my improvisation, and aural/listening skills, while pushing myself outside my comfort zone.

In addition to the workshop, we had three planned performances spread out throughout the country (Haifa, Kibbutz, and Masada). The Kibbutz performance stood out to me because of the incredible people I met during it. The Kibbutz lifestyle and camaraderie is so much different than in the United States; voluntarily living and working together on a noncompetitive basis sharing acts of service for the overall advancement of their community. Observing these differences made the audience connection much deeper, enriching the Luke holding his saxophone sitting on a stone wall in the desertperformance and engagement. The last performance in Masada was unforgettable for its scenic outlook and historical significance, almost 1,500 feet above the Dead Sea and Masada Desert. In this final performance, each student performed Klezmer improvisation while overlooking the historical sites. This was a very special moment to share with my friends as we witnessed the Israeli culture coloring and blossoming within our very own playing. Having the opportunity to perform authentic Klezmer music in such an important location will stick with me forever.

I am forever grateful to have participated in the Chamber Music in Israel education abroad program. Combining music and experiential learning together has shifted my desired career path, and opened my mind up to the possibilities of chamber music. Thank you to the Michigan State University College of Music for providing such a life-changing experience for your students. Now, at 23 years of age, I know that little Luke would be geeking out if he knew where music would take him!

Name: Luke Haight
Status: Senior
Major: Music Performance (saxophone)
Hometown: Clarkston, Michigan
Program: Chamber Music in Israel