Welcome to the opening of Music of Remembrance’s sixteenth season. Today’s program commemorates the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, The Night of Broken Glass.
On the evening of November 9, 1938, massive, organized, anti-Jewish violence raged. This pogrom signaled a marked escalation in Nazi persecution, and was a turning point in the descent toward horrors that few could even imagine at the time.
More than seven decades later, we are all too aware that the moral lessons of the Holocaust are urgent, timely and relevant. Through MOR’s fifteen years, we have sought to represent the diversity of the Holocaust’s victims – non-Jewish as well as Jewish- through the voices of women, children, political dissidents, gypsies and homosexuals. Through music, Music of Remembrance strives to broaden everyone’s understanding of the Holocaust’s many dimensions, and to make clear its significance for all of humanity.
Tonight’s concert spotlights works by three Israeli composers: Marc Lavry, Betty Olivero and Eugene Levitas. We perform the world premiere of a dance commission set to Betty Olivero’s suite from her exhilarating klezmer-like score for the German expressionist film The Golem. Historically, the legend has served as a complex metaphor for the struggle to survive during times of persecution. Choreographer Pat Hon of the Cornish College of the Arts brings an added dimension to Olivero’s dazzling score, and tonight we experience its world premiere with her Cornish dancers. You’ll also hear the United States premiere of Until When? by Eugene Levitas, a setting of compelling verses by Hungarian poet and Holocaust survivor Yaakov Barzilai. We’re honored to have Kurt Beattie, Artistic Director of Seattle’s ACT Theatre, as our special guest in a dramatic reading of the poems in English translation from the Hebrew.
DER GOLEM, Paul Wegener, 1920 (Courtesy Guenter Buchwald)
You’ll also hear works by two composers who left Europe in the 1930s to escape the Nazi threat. Swiss-born Ernest Bloch settled in the United States, and Latvian-born Marc Lavry immigrated to Palestine. Both were deeply influenced by their roots in Jewish musical traditions that, Bloch said, give voice to a “complex, glowing, agitated soul.”
As a composer and conductor, Marc Lavry went on to become one of the most important figures in Israel’s musical life, and he had a central influence on the development of distinctive Israeli musical styles. Tonight we perform his Suite Concertante for Flute, Viola and Harp composed in 1966.
We continue MOR’s survey of Erwin Schulhoff’s extraordinary chamber works with his 1927 Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano. Schulhoff was one of the most innovative composers of his day, but his audaciously original voice was silenced in a Nazi forced labor camp. Our concert opens with Ernest Bloch’s soulful Nigun, and we welcome Takumi Taguchi, winner of MOR’s 2013 David Tonkonogui Award, as our violin soloist.
Erwin Schulhoff (Prague 1924) By Conrad Felixmüller
Through this moving music, and the poignant artistry of our musicians, we carry memory forward. We tell stories that need to be heard today. Together we can share in the transformative power of music to move us from the depths of human suffering to the healing beauty of hope and renewal. Thank you so much for joining us to celebrate this stirring and poignant cultural legacy.
Mina Miller, Artistic Director