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Milken Archive: The Guardian Angel of American Jewish Music

by Gad Nahshon

Milken Archive is the guardian angel of American Jewish music. On May 19, 2003, in a special distinguished ceremony at the Jewish Museum in New York City the Milken Archive of American Jewish music announced its intention to launch a major unprecedented CD series of Naxos American classics. The idea is to release 50 CDs by December 2005. The "Archive" and its chair and co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation, Lowell Milken has dedicated itself to the preservation and promotion of the best of the Jewish music in America, a musical saga which started in 1654. Lowell Milken established the Archive in 1990. And the first project has been accomplished today, a pioneer project to be proud of.

This project is based on non-stop scholarly research of American musical history, religious and secular. It is also based on "the passionate collaboration of many distinguished artists, ensembles and recording producers will culminate in a 20-volume collection and a vast repository of musical resources..." wrote Lowell Milken expressing his hope that this enormous project "...will cultivate and nourish musicians and enthusiasts of this richly varied musical genre."

This ten year unique project is a success story of the "Archive's" Editorial Board and especially of its artistic director, Prof. Neil W. Levin (J.T.S.) expert on Jewish music director of International Center and Archives for Jewish Music. The other members: Prof. Samuel Adler (Eastman School, Juilliard School, The Reform Movement); Prof. Ofer Ben-Amots (Colorado College, author of Fool's Paradise); Martin Bookspan (radio and television commentator); and Prof. Charles Davidson (Hazzan and Prof. at the J.T.S.); Henry Fogel (Chicago Symphony Orchestra); Lukas Foss (internationally acclaimed composer); Martin M. Leifman (a famous authority and educator - cantorial education and music, a Dean emeritus, the J.T.S.); Gerard Schwartz (internationally acclaimed conductor); Paul Schwenderner (expert on marketing); and Prof. Edwin Seroussi (expert on ethno-musicology, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem). The Archive believes in the quality of its production. Its cooperation with Naxos American Classics, a world leading company, means reaching the climax of excellence. The multi-year CD release plan means that in September 2003, the Archive will enrich us with the following composition: Kurt Weill's The Eternal Road (highlights) Klezmer Concertos and Encores (Robert Starer, Paul E. Schoenfeld, Jacob Weinberg, Abraham Ellstein and Osvaldo Golijov.

Mario Castelnaovo-Tedesco, the Italian-Jewish composer Great songs of the American Yiddish Stage Vol 1: Abraham Ellstein (1907-1963) Highlights from Milken's Archive: Sampler CD (Leonard Bernstein, Darius Milhaud, Dave Brubeck, Jewish Music Colonial America, Arnold Schoenberg, Igor Stravinsky, Ernest Toch, and Thomas Beveridge.

Also in this CD: Masterpieces of Cantorial Art with: Yossele Rosenblatt and David Kusevitsky. Also the Archive plans: a comprehensive multi-volume boxed set as well as many seminars or symposiums such as, Only in America - Jewish Music in a Land of Freedom to be convened at the J.T.S. on November 2003.


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