L’dor vador. It’s an oft-used phrase—some think the most common in all of Jewish custom. Put simply, l’dor vador refers to continuity, to the responsibility of passing on spiritual knowledge and cultural traditions from generation to generation for the purpose of sustaining the customs, heritage, and collective memory of the Jewish people.
That we should reserve this focus for the last of the twenty volumes in our series is indeed fitting, since the Milken Archive’s raison d’être and core mission is to preserve the great musical repertoire of American Jewish experience for future generations. Indeed, while we would be loath to choose which of our twenty themes was most important, we recognize that if there were to be a single over-arching theme behind all of them it would unequivocally be l’dor vador.
The concept of l’dor vador is relevant on other planes as well. First, by focusing on music for young performers (though not necessarily for young audiences), we highlight the importance of inculcating this musical heritage at an early age so that it will take root and become an inextricable strand of the growing child’s musical tapestry.
Second, it seems noteworthy that many of the recordings presented in this volume have been performed by non-Jewish youth choirs. This offers an opportunity for a slightly different perspective on l’dor vador—the importance of filtering the collective Jewish musical heritage out into the musical culture of the world. For while the lion’s share of the music in the Milken Archive has its origins in Jewish experience, sharing this heritage with the world at large has also always been a part of the Archive’s core mission.
On this point, founder Lowell Milken has been consistently heartened to learn of the many ensembles that, having first performed this music under the auspices of a Milken Archive recording session, subsequently added it into their general repertoire. Among such ensembles are the two illustrious youth chorales prominently featured in this volume: the Vienna Boys Choir and the Finchley Children’s Music Group.
Finally, l’dor vador also embodies the notion that all endings engender new beginnings. Thus, while the twentieth volume does, in some senses, signify a closing point in the Milken Archive’s collection, embedded within are both the seed and siren call for the young to carry this artistic legacy into the future.