Bronius Krokys

Mr. Krokys grew up on a farm in Mockava, in the southern Lithuanian region of Dainava, an area called the "country of songs." Singing was a part of life back 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. Most of the Lithuanian songs in Mr. Krokys' repertoire were banned after the Soviet annexation of his country. Although he never stopped singing entirely, Mr. Krokys remembers his fear that someone might overhear. 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. After the war, Mr. Krokys 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 1991 PFP exhibition.