Proceeds will help transfer aging acetate disks to digital
By Robert Frank
More than 300 Montrealers attended the first of two klezmer performances on the McAuslan brewery terrasse overlooking the Lachine Canal, Aug. 26. A second is slated for Aug. 30. The concerts aim to raise funds to save an irreplaceable record collection of historic Yiddish songs from destruction.
“It’s important that we don’t lose our history within all our various communities,” Peter McAuslan told The Suburban in an interview.
“Obviously Yiddish songs and the Yiddish culture are very important in the Jewish experience in North America,” said the brewery’s president. “You don’t want to lose things of historic and cultural importance, so for us it’s a pleasure to be able to help preserve them.”
The initiative began after a Snowdon resident Sandy W learned that hundreds of Yiddish songs on very old acetate disks and reel-to-reel tapes will soon deteriorate beyond retrieval, if they are not transferred to digital format.
“The recordings of Jewish emigrants were collected by Montreal-born ethnomusicologist Ruth Rubin,” W explained, “They document Jewish experiences during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.”
“Among the voices preserved are those of many holocaust survivors,” W noted. “There is an incredible amount of history in these songs that we don’t know about, such as the plight of young Jewish girls who were sold into prostitution in Argentina, more than a century ago.”
“The goal is to make digital copies of the recordings which remain intact, and to arrange for those that have already deteriorated to be retrieved by technical experts in Boston,” she explained. “This will preserve an oral history that is at risk of eradication.”
Tomorrow’s 5-à-7 fundraising concert, will feature well-known klezmer jazz-fusion saxophonist Damian Nienson and Nozen.
“It’s fun to go from bagpipes to jazz punk to klezmer during the course of a week, and touch so many different parts of our community,” McAuslan enthused.
Attendance at the outdoor concerts at the brewery terrasse at 5080 Saint Ambroise has doubled since last year. McAuslan attributed the increase to this summer’s extraordinary weather and his determination to maintain a close connection between his brewery and the community.
Note: Those who wish to contribute but are unable to attend either of the fundraising concerts can send a donation to:
The Ruth Rubin Reels
The Foundation for Yiddish Culture
6338 Victoria 17
Canada H3W 2S5