A Brief History of the Guild
by Judith Wink
New York Recorder 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 1980s and early '90s. 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.
A monthly newsletter was started in the '70s 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 concert listings and reviews of early music concerts, books, and new recordings 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. But valuable ideas and activities do not go quietly into that dark night! The Guild found new life in 2017 when professional players Wendy Powers and Deborah Booth, amateur Natalie Lebert, and several others decided to bring the fairy’s kiss to the sleeping Guild and awaken it. Today New York Recorder Guild has a new and enthusiastic board, music director, website, support from 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.