As curator of the Milken Archive, it’s my pleasure to welcome you to this website—a vast repository of a musical culture that has continually redefined and reinvented itself as it has responded to the opportunities and challenges of life in a land of freedom.
When I joined the Milken Archive in 2009, it had already established a solid reputation. The 50 CDs released between 2003 and 2006 had gained widespread recognition, and the nationally broadcast radio program hosted by Leonard Nimoy had brought the Milken Archive to millions of listeners from Los Angeles, Chicago, and Seattle to Cripple Creek, Colorado and Dodge City, Kansas.
By 2009, the Archive had embraced the power and reach of the Web as the most effective medium not only to preserve and ensure access to this collection, but also to relate its history in more meaningful and engaging ways. Transitioning this massive collection to the Web was to be my chief responsibility.
As I waded through the sea of content the facts and figures began to sink in. 600 recorded musical works, 200 composers, 800 hours of oral histories, and so much more. It’s a staggering amount. (Have a look at our infographic to get the full picture.) Presenting it meaningfully and comprehensively on a website is no small task, and I am eternally grateful to the stellar team of talented, dedicated individuals who've helped make this happen.
The philosophy that has guided me in the course of this project has been a variation on an old adage. It’s true that one should not miss the forest for the trees, but neither should one fail to take note of the incredible complexity and diversity that can only be gleaned by looking at the minutiae. Zooming in is as important as zooming out. Following the offshoots is no less valid than tracing the roots.
Toward that end, this website has been designed to reflect the vision that has guided the Milken Archive since its founding more than 25 years ago. Virtually every piece of music and every composer we’ve recorded has its own webpage, which includes all of the available related media content we’ve collected and created in the course of our work. From documentary videos and photographs to extended oral histories and articles, each page exists within the context of the cultural and historical narratives that have defined Jewish life in America for the past three-and-a-half centuries.
But I’ve also understood each page as a world unto itself, one with portals to other worlds and pathways to the unknown. We’ve tried to build the type of website where finding what you’re looking for and getting lost are both rewarding, enriching experiences.
In the coming months, we’ll be building out pages and adding content as we work towards making this new website the best it can be. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years with the Milken Archive it’s that its gifts keep on giving and new discoveries abound. I look forward to sharing many discoveries—both old and new—as we move the Milken Archive further into the 21st century.
I invite you to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeff Janeczko, Ph.D.