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JRelease: New Oral History of America Jewish Music Platform Brings the Past to Life

December 16, 2021 11:34 AM | Jessica Painter (Administrator)

New Oral History of America Jewish Music Platform Brings the Past to Life

LOS ANGELES, CA (December 14, 2021) – The field of Jewish Music is gaining a valuable resource which will expand knowledge about the evolving nature of music of the American Jewish experience.

The Oral History Project of American Jewish Music, created by the Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience at The Herb Alpert School of Music at UCLA in partnership with the Milken Archive of Jewish Music: the American Experience, is an audiovisual platform that will provide a portal for scholars, researchers, musicians, listeners, and fans of Jewish music to explore interviews of leading musicians, composers, cantors, and performers. A number of the oral histories feature historically significant individuals who are no longer living, such as Dave Brubeck and Freydele Oysher.

“Oral histories and personal interviews constitute some of the most important primary sources in the field of Jewish music. But there have long been barriers to access that have inhibited the field's progress. Interviews and transcripts generally take a very long time to consume and analyze, and finding the connections among different interviews is laborious,” said Jeff Janeczko, Curator of the Milken Archive of Jewish Music. “By integrating audiovisual and textual material with the power of search and metadata, the Oral History Project of American Jewish Music removes those barriers and opens up new avenues for research and exploration.”

The platform contains video interviews and searchable transcripts that allow for easy access to learn about genres, concepts, and works of Jewish music. The resource allows viewers first-hand access to the background of musicians, their teachers and their experiences in creating, performing and engaging with music. Students of famed Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt, colleagues of Leonard Bernstein, and performers of Yiddish theater share how they learned and the opportunities they had in performing Jewish music.

“This collection at present is only the beginning. We will continue to add interviews over time, including today’s leading scholars, cantors, and performers to make their experiences known,” says Mark Kligman, Mickey Katz Endowed Chair in Jewish Music, Professor of Ethnomusicology and Musicology at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music and Director of the Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience. “Our intention is to build this platform in order to advance the field of Jewish music.”

“Finally, we can hear the vital voices of America’s eminent Jewish musicians of many generations and styles, a wellspring source for students, scholars, and music lovers everywhere,” commented Mark Slobin, Winslow-Kaplan Professor of Music Emeritus, Wesleyan University.

A team of UCLA students supervised by staff and faculty work to ensure the accuracy of each transcript and to create metadata for easy searching prior to making each new interview live to the public.

The Oral History Project of American Jewish Music is built upon state-of-the-art Aviary technology.

Established by a gift from philanthropist Lowell Milken in 2020, American Jewish music has its first permanent dedicated academic home in the Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. It is dedicated to exploring American Jewish music through research, publications, performance, educational programming and community engagement in Los Angeles and beyond. The Lowell Milken Center expands the reach of the Milken Archive and its vast holdings of recordings, scores and historical materials to students, scholars and the public. For more information, please visit: schoolofmusic.ucla.edu/lowellmilkenmaje.

Founded by philanthropist Lowell Milken in 1990, the Milken Archive has engaged an international roster of artists, composers and experts of different faiths and disciplines to share sacred and secular music pertaining to the Jewish experience in America, much of which was undiscovered or in danger of being lost. Engaging an equally global audience, the Milken Archive has completed more than 600 recordings, 200 oral histories and a series of 50 award-winning albums on the Naxos American Classics label. www.milkenarchive.org


Mark Kligman, Director, Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music
T: 310-206-5282; mkligman@schoolofmusic.ucla.edu

Jeff Janeczko, Curator, Milken Archive of Jewish Music
T: 310-570-4746; info@milkenarchive.org

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