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A Brief History of the New York Recorder Guild

On the evening of June 29th, the New York Recorder Guild sprang excitingly back to life. Over 50 enthusiastic players from the Metro New York area responded to the invitation to attend the inaugural session. Deborah Booth conducted the lively session, and the New New York Recorder Guild was off and running.

The Guild was originally incorporated in 1975 to bring players and teachers together. Classes were offered on levels from low intermediate to advanced. Thanks to executive director Mordecai Rubin, the Guild got free space at Columbia Teachers College for its monthly playing sessions. The Guild bloomed through the 80’s and early 90’s. The New York Recorder Guild School was founded by Andrew Acs to offer classes in addition to the monthly playing sessions. Teachers worked for free and the sessions were very inexpensive. In addition, there were talent shows, instrument auctions, afternoon workshops, and even hikes with playing sessions led by Bruce Larkin.

gargoyleA monthly newsletter was started in the 70’s by Susan Snyder and Dek Stump. The collaboration led to their marriage and the news on the front page. The front page always featured news of the Guild, as directed by Mordecai and his successor, Michael Zumoff. In addition, under the leadership of Susan and her successor, Eleanor Brodkin, both ardent early music devotees, the newsletter grew to 8-12 page issues containing listings of concerts, reviews of early music concerts, books and new music from the Early Music Community, including Paul Echols, Philip Levin, John Collis, Lucy Cross, Wendy Powers, Sheila Schoenbrun, Judith Davidoff, Morris Newman, and Gene Reichenthal.

As publishing went from typesetting and typewriting to digital, the Newsletter also moved with the times, and in 1997 the editor Lucy Goeres unveiled the new look of the Newsletter. But by then, other things started to change: most amateurs had found groups and teachers and came to depend less on the Guild. The school, the auctions, the talent shows saw diminishing attendance as did the regular monthly meetings. Only one playing level was offered. By 2003, despite the best efforts of co-music directors Susan Iadone and John DeLucia the Guild continued to languish. Only the Spring Festival, launched in 1989, hosted by Teachers College, with four levels of classes, and a music-and-instrument store run by Richie and Elaine Henzler of Courtly Music Unlimited managed to thrive and survive until 2007.

In 2006, Michael Zumoff resigned as executive director after 26 years. He was replaced by the team of Susan Iadone, Larry Lipnik, and John DeLucia. Despite their valiant efforts the Guild went quiet. John DeLucia, sadly, passed away three years ago.

But valuable ideas and activities do not go quietly into that dark night. The Guild suddenly found new life this spring when professionals Wendy Powers and Deborah Booth, along with amateur Natalie Liebert, and several others decided to bring the fairy’s kiss to the sleeping Guild and awaken it. The Guild has a new and enthusiastic board, a music director, a website, support of all the sister chapters in the NY Metro area, and a very excited cadre of new members and players. It is off to a great start with its new life.

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Be a part of the wonderful organization; meet other players, keep up to date on all related recorder and early music events and activities in the New York Metro area by becoming a member. Consider including a donation with your Membership dues to further the work and success of the NYRG. The New York Recorder Guild is a 501(c)(3) organization, and all donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the tax code.