UW-Madison: Bringing the Yiddish past to life: A tour through the Mayrent collection


Contact: Michael Chaim, 608-320-9347, friends@library.wisc.edu

MADISON – One of the best windows into a culture is through its music, and that is especially true when a culture has vanished, or was destroyed, as happened with the Jewish culture of Eastern Europe before World War II.

Among the ways in which that culture survives, though, is in a great legacy of recorded music; and we the largest private collection of commercial Yiddish pre-war recordings in the world was recently donated to the Mills Music Library at the University of Wisconsin by Sherry Mayrent, as part of the establishment of the Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture at the UW.

The Friends of the UW-Madison Libraries will celebrate the Mayrent Collection at a special event at the University Club, 803 State St., on Thursday, March 1 at 4:30 p.m.

The master of ceremonies will be Henry Sapoznik, director of the Mayrent Institute and founding director of the famous KlezKamp Yiddish folk arts program in the Catskills. Sapoznik, a five-time Grammy nominee, is also a talented musician, and he’ll bring together some friends in live performances of Yiddish music at the event, along with selections of recorded music chosen from the collection by Sapoznik.

This remarkable collection of recordings – cantorial, Yiddish theater, klezmer, and much more – includes the work of hundreds of performers. Some of the performers are well-known in the Jewish music world, such as Molly Picon, Fyvush Finkel; others are talented vocalists or instrumentalists who are little known.

There will be food, conversation, and a guided tour of one of the liveliest aspects of this dynamic culture. This event is free and open to all.