Happy to be back in NYC

Greetings. I’m almost back in my apartment after over two months of renovations. Can’t wait to be cooking on that new stove. But then, that’s not why you’re here. (Also, fwiw, the a/c in the Sound Archives is working again – good for me, good for you, good for the Jews).

I apologize for not writing more often – I thought I might be able to do this from the road, but so far, no…

Therefore, since I’m back, I tried to think of something really special to share. About ten years ago, I cataloged a 1928 Victor disc by Moishele Soorkis, “The Blind Cantor.”

Moishele Soorkis

Here is a biography from the jacket of the Collectors Guild lp Cantorial Rarities, on which two of his four known issued cantorial sides appear:

Moishele Soorkis (1900-1974) was born in Uman, now Ukraine. Tragically, he lost his sight through illness when he was only eight weeks old; this was not discovered until he was nearly one. When at age of six the boy showed promise as a singer, his father, Leib Soorkis, a well known synagogue composer and choral conductor, began to keep him at his side during services; thus Moishele learned both chazzanuth and choral song. When he was ten, he became a boy cantor and for three years traveled through Russia on concert tours. In December 1913 he was brought to the United States. Here he spent two years at the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston, where he learned to read and write in Braille. At seventeen Moishele accepted the position of cantor in the Rozistzever Synagogue of Philadelphia, serving for two years. Since then, he has officiated only at High Holiday services : ten years in Philadelphia at Rozistzever and Tikvas Israel Synagogues, five years in Chicago, five years in Boston, and one year in New York. His flexible tenor voice has both a lyric and dramatic coloration.

(YIVO houses about a third of the masters for the Collectors Guild label in the papers of its owner, Benedict Stambler. The collection also includes field recordings of various Hasidic dynasties made in Brooklyn around 1960).

So I was curious to read what was on the label:

What the bio doesn’t mention is that Cantor Soorkis was also apparently an accomplished klezmer organist. Listen and you’ll here what I mean:


We want more…


Lovely. Really beautiful.

Until next time (and hopefully sooner),

Lorin

2 Responses to Happy to be back in NYC

  1. Emily Collins says:

    Dear Lorin,

    My name is Emily Collins. I very recently saw you perform at Adrienne Cooper’s tribute concert and then in Red Hook with the Klezmatics a few Sundays ago. (You might remember me at the evening performance in Red Hook with my very reluctant 9-year old grandson who stood by the back door and wouldn’t come in for half of the concert while I was sitting second row pew with the other boy.)
    My friend Bonnie Stein told me that you are the sound archivist at YIVO and to contact you. My mother’s name was Esther Drucker and she was a Yiddish singer and a close friend of Ruth Rubin’s. They worked together on their music when we all lived in Sunnyside Queens during the 1940S. My mother performed as a soloist playing the guitar, and sang folk music in many languages. She was, briefly, the “SInging Lady” on WNYC during the 1940s. I have practice tapes (reel to reel and cassette) but from when she was older. I once encountered what I think was a “remaindered” Folkways International (?) LP record on which she was singing the very last cut (in Yiddish). I was young and didn’t think to buy it! Never saw it again and couldn’t locate it through the internet. I wonder if you could help me to at least find that recording and possibly any other. Her name is Esther Milgram Drucker, but I’m pretty sure she would be found as Esther Drucker.

    I live in Park Slope Brooklyn and can come to YIVO easily.

    • lsklamberg says:

      Hi, Emily

      Your mother did indeed record for Ruth Rubin – more than just the title you mention (A shadkhn darf men kenen zayn), which, btw, is available from Smithsonian Folkways:

      http://www.folkways.si.edu/jewish-life-the-old-country/judaica/music/album/smithsonian

      We are currently in the process of digitizing Ruth Rubin’s field recordings. Your mom also recorded (from a cursory look through the catalog) Vekurev pezureynu, Kegn gold fun zun (a duet with Ruth), Sov, sov, sevivon, Mother I long to be married, Veselyo kolkhoznikam, Gdye ti zamyordisthka and Now once I was courted.

      There is also a recording of Yetst gey ikh mir shpatsirn by David Drucker – any relation?

      You could come in and listen to these – please contact me at lsklamberg@yivo.cjh.org to set up an appointment.

      I’d also, of course, be interested in whatever private recordings you have of your mother for our collection.

      Looking forward…

      Lorin

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