Lost and Found Music: One of New York’s Great Hidden Performance Venues
By Anna Shneyderman, Museum at Eldridge Street Intern
This Sunday, September 21 marks the kick-off event of the Museum’s Lost and Found Music Series, which presents Jewish musical forms that are at risk of disappearing. The series is the baby and brain-child of the Museum’s Program Director Hanna Griff-Sleven, who is dedicated to animating our historic 1887 site with culture and music. Here Anna Shneyderman, a student at the New School and our 2014 social media intern, interviews Hanna about the origins and concept behind the series.
ANNA: Tell us a little bit about the Lost and Found Music series.
HANNA: The series focuses on music that once was very vibrant in the Jewish tradition. This kind of music was initially very popular in the culture but dwindled as Jews immigrated to America and adopted new ways of living and new musical styles.
Beginning in the late 1970s many musicians have rediscovered this “lost” art, mainly focusing on klezmer and Jewish classical music. These musicians, many of them with Jewish heritage, have been doing great research and digging deep into musical archives, particularly in the U.S. and Eastern Europe, where much of the music originated.
ANNA: Is it difficult to curate this series and find these artists?
HANNA: The artists are not difficult to find- musicians are always coming up to me and saying how much they would love to play here at the Museum. The sanctuary is an absolutely beautiful space with great acoustics. Unfortunately we have limited time and resources, so it is impossible to fit everyone in the series. But we try to accommodate everyone we can!
ANNA: What was your favorite concert from last year’s Lost and Found series?
HANNA: (laughs) It’s like picking a favorite child! I would have to say I loved the concert we had in the spring that featured Scottish inspired baroque and klezmer music. And about a month ago we had a beautiful evening of Greek music that was just a blast. Audience members were dancing in the aisles!
ANNA: What does the audience usually look like at these events? Do you think we’ll start to see a rise in younger people discovering this music?
HANNA: These concerts definitely attract an older crowd (laughs). But I’m beginning to see a rise in younger people at the events. I teach at The New School and I always try to spread the word to my college students about our concerts.
ANNA: Definitely. I was at the last concert and had no idea how much fun Yiddish folk music could be!
I probably wouldn’t have attended on my own initially, but now I’m going to get my friends to come to future concerts.
Speaking of which…tell us about the upcoming concert on Sunday, September 21st.
HANNA: On Sunday, September 21st we are having an evening of Jewish baroque music. Simona Frenkel is the artistic director of Concertino New York- her energy is infectious! She came to visit this summer and wanted to play in our space. Eldridge Street is the perfect venue for this concert – many of the gorgeous compositions were actually commissioned by 17th and 18th-century synagogues back in the day. We don’t often have classical music concerts, but my colleague Eva Brune really pushed for it this season.
ANNA: As a classical music aficionado, I’m looking forward to the upcoming concert on the 21st. Thanks so much for the interview, Hanna!
Come join us for Jewish Baroque music-the official kickoff of our Lost and Found Music Series at the Museum this Sunday, September 21st at 4pm with the Concertino New York Chamber Ensemble and check out other upcoming concerts.