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Meet the Artists-in-Residence of New York Memory Center. Each brings a special expertise and offers stimulating programs on a regular schedule at the Center and occasionally at the Memory Arts Café.


David Azarch
Percussionist in Residence

David Azarch, is a Group Empowerment Drumming facilitator and AFA Qualified Dementia Care Professional, bringing the power of expression through percussion to therapeutic recreation and activities programs in the New York Metro and Tri-State area. Working within the modality of Recreational Music Making (RMM) and Therapeutic Recreation and, trained in Drumming and Wellness protocols, David is a facilitator to a number of special needs populations including adults and seniors in Dementia Care and Memory Centers, adolescents and young adults with Autism and other developmental challenges, Adolescent and adult substance abuse rehabilitation and recovery programs and, At-Risk Youth programs that include the Juvenile Correctional System. David began playing drums in 1972 at the age of fourteen. His interests in music, particularly rhythm led him to explore the world of hand drums and percussion instruments, along with its cultures, styles and techniques.


Ismail Butera

Musician in Residence

Ismail — accordionist, vocalist, entertainer — loves the folk music of the world’s peoples. He  is a founding member of Metropolitan Klezmer and plays a breathtaking array of styles: traditional court repertoire of Zanzibar, Arabic modes, African rhythms, Indian film melodies, and Turkish musical genres, with lyrics in Ki-Swahili. He has taught at Buffalo Gap Balkan Folk Arts Camp, played traditional Greek instruments with Smyrneiki Kompania, performed with The Klezmatics, Andy Statman, Michael Alpert, Noga Group, Yale Strom’s Hot P’Stromi, and Latin folk ensemble Chameleon, in addition to playing Albanian, Armenian, Israeli, Sephardic and Persian music. He appears on all four Metropolitan Klezmer CDs. During the day he entertains in nursing homes, hospitals, and nonprofit centers and has worked for Hospital Audiences Incorporated (HAI), Self Help Community Services, the Trinity Church ‘Music to Go’ series, and the New York Memory Center. “Music, dance and the arts are truly wonderful human forms of expression and communication, and do make miracles happen.” See his website for upcoming performances.


Deborah Karpel

Guitar Musician


Deborah’s early influences include Liltin’ Martha Tilton, Mildred Bailey, Danny Kaye, Dinah Washington, Peggy Lee, Patsy Cline, Sam Cooke, Dinah Shore, and many more individual singers, plus musical theater soundtracks from the 1950s. She has performed onstage including originating and singing the role of Sonny in Jeff Weiss’s long-running Obie award-winning live serial Hot Keys, working with Circus Amok, and several New York opera companies. She is a frequent recitalist at Lincoln Center’s Bruno Walter Auditorium and currently performs with Ismail Butera’s “Velvet Jubilee”. Through her work with several Klezmer bands, Deborah became acquainted with Yiddish language and music.  She combined this growing interest with her passion for opera to create a concert, entitled Songs My Mother Never Taught Me, for the National Yiddish Center in Amherst, MA. In 2008 Deborah released her second CD, La Promessa. See her website,

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