Barry Serota, a practicing attorney and executive director of the Institute for Jewish Sound Recording, died suddenly November 16, 2009 on a plane flight between New York and Madrid on the way to Israel.
Serota, widely known for his deep knowledge of Jewish music, had produced more than 100 recordings of Jewish sacred and secular music. Serota’s output at the Institute, based in Chicago, included choral, instrumental, folk and art music. Serota was especially known a promoter of chazzanut. Starting in 1969, he issued many esoteric Jewish music recordings under the imprint of Musique Internationale.
Serota, an advisor to the Milken Foundation, worked on their large project of the Library of American Jewish Music, the recordings which were published under the Naxos label. He was also involved in the Foundation’s oral-history project, for which he interviewed many of the leading figures in Jewish music.
Serota earned degrees at Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, and received a law degree from De Paul University of Chicago. He lectured widely, including numerous professional and academic organizations such as the Cantorial Council of America, HUC (Hebrew Union College), TACI (Tel Aviv Cantorial Institute), and the Museum of the Diaspora.
At the time of his death, Jeffrey P. Lieuwen wrote, “I hope the enormous collection he leaves behind will fall into good hands, so it will be preserved for generations to come.” I hope Mr. Lieuwen and others will be pleased to learn that Barry Serota’s mother, Mrs. Blanche Serota, has donated his entire personal collection to the Judaica Sound Archives at FAU Libraries.