Joseph Alpar

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Joseph Alpar's research focuses on the anthropology of music in Turkey and the Middle East, and the relationships between music, spirituality, modernity, marginalization, social expression, and identity.


Alpar is an ethnomusicologist, performer, and educator whose research centers on musical and religious practices in Turkey and former Ottoman territories. Alpar earned his PhD in ethnomusicology from The Graduate Center, City University of New York in May 2020, having completed a dissertation titled, “Music and Jewish Practice in Contemporary Istanbul: Preserving Heritage, Bending Tradition.” His research has been supported by fellowships from The American Research Institute in Turkey (ARIT) and The Center for Jewish Studies at The Graduate Center, CUNY among other institutions. In addition to his academic work, Alpar is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and singer of Middle Eastern and Western art music. He is the director of David’s Harp, an acclaimed Philadelphia-based ensemble specializing in the music of Turkey, Greece, and North Africa. He has taught previously in the music departments of Swarthmore College, Temple University, and CUNY, Hunter College. Alpar was a visiting faculty member at Bennington for Spring 2018 and the 2019-2021 academic years. He joined the Bennington faculty in Fall 2021.