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Naxos to Distribute Milken Archive of American Jewish Music
Historic Project Brings Previously Unrecorded Music to the Public

May 20, 2003

New York, USA - The Milken Family Foundation has announced that this September, after more than a decade of research and recording by leading scholars and musicians, it will launch a landmark recording project of music of the American Jewish experience. Including over 600 newly recorded works and 500 world premiere recordings from 200 American composers, the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music will be distributed by Naxos of America on the acclaimed American Classics series, the independent label's pioneering series of recordings by American composers. All proceeds from sales of the recordings will be directed back into the Milken Archive's nonprofit programs to further develop the Archive's goals of bringing Jewish music and the Jewish experience to the public.

The project covers an immense range of music dating from 1654, the year the first Jewish settlers arrived in America, to the present day. Sacred and secular works are documented, including liturgical music for the synagogue, concert pieces, popular songs, theater music and many other genres. In addition to documenting the Jewish cultural experience in America, the archive also seeks to express the relevance of the Jewish experience to all faiths and races as well as its importance to the musical world. Lesser-known works by Jewish composers as well as pieces by secular composers who were influenced by Jewish writings and musical works are included. It is estimated that fewer than 100 of these works have been previously available for commercial release.

The first five discs will be released in September and will include music by composers such as Kurt Weill and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, with stage works, concert pieces, and songs from Yiddish theatre. The remaining discs in the 60-CD collection will be released at the rate of two per month until the series' conclusion in the spring of 2005.

The Milken Archive of American Jewish Music began in 1990, the result of founder Lowell Milken's interest in and appreciation for Jewish music, as well as his family's long tradition of supporting educational and cultural initiatives. Determined to bring the highest caliber of scholarship and musicianship to the project, Lowell Milken chose renowned scholar and professor Dr. Neil Levin to head a team of musicologists, conductors, performers, cantors, and scholars responsible for the artistic development of the project. A part of the Milken Family Foundation, which is known worldwide for its philanthropic efforts in the fields of education and medicine, the Archive expands the Foundation's mission into the world of music.

In addition to text and translations for vocal works and in-depth liner notes for all CDs, the recordings will be supported with educational audiovisual materials including interviews with composers and performers. As a work-in-progress, the archive will continue to grow by including oral histories videotaped for the archive and essays by leading Jewish artists and composers.

Initially the CDs will be available in North America, with release schedules in other territories to be determined in the future. For more information, visit the website for the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music at, or e-mail


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