(d. April 10, 2010)
Bronius Krokys grew up on a farm in Mockava, in an area of Dainava in southern Lithuania, called the "country of songs." Singing was a part of life in Lithuania and Mr. Krokys remembers singing "all the time"-- for courting, funerals, harvests and in the village church. He was a particularly good singer, and he was encouraged in his love for music.
From his mother and others, he learned a wide range of traditional Lithuanian folksongs and hymns, although most of the Lithuanian songs in Mr. Krokys' repertoire were banned after the Soviet annexation of his country. He never stopped singing entirely, but Mr. Krokys remembers well his fear that someone could have overheard. During World War II, Mr. Krokys was taken to Germany as a slave laborer. After the war, he was liberated by the Americans and interned for three years in a displaced persons camp. Mr. Krokys then came to America, first to Rochester and then eventually to Philadelphia. He passed his love of Lithuanian folksongs and culture on to his children, and both he and his family have been deeply involved in efforts to preserve Lithuanian folk arts and heritage here.
Mr. Krokys' knowledge of traditional Lithuanian song has been recognized by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, which funded him to teach Lithuanian folksongs. He and his initial ensemble performed some of their repertoire at a Philadelphia Folklore Project community concert; his mother's hymn book and his story were featured in a special 1990 PFP exhibition on master folk artists.
Mr. Krokys passed away on April 10, 2010. He will be remembered for his preservation of Lithuanian culture and tradition and will be greatly missed in the Philadelphia community and beyond.