Roma people in the Holocaust: A musical tribute to Ceija Stojka

A story not often told is that of the Roma (or “gypsies”) in Nazi Europe where, like the Jews, they were deemed “racially inferior.” Historians have estimated that the Nazis and their collaborators murdered about a quarter of the approximately one million Roma living in Europe at the start of the war.

In 2017, Music of Remembrance commissioned composer Mary Kouyoumdjian's "to open myself, to scream," inspired by the paintings and writing of Roma artist Ceija Stojka. On September 19, 2023 the work will receive its New York Premiere at the Austrian Cultural Forum New York at the closing ceremony of a major art exhibition honoring Stojka. It will be performed by a quintet led by Austrian artist Maximilian Schweiger.

Click for more information about the New York performance

The persecution of Europe’s Roma did not end after the war, and Stojka devoted herself to sharing her experience and shattering the silence through her words and her art. 

“Auschwitz is only sleeping. If the world does not change now, if the world does not open its doors and windows, if it does not build peace — true peace — so that my great grandchildren have a chance to live in this world, then I cannot explain why I survived Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, and Ravensbrück.” - Ceija Stojka

"to open myself, to scream" combines Kouyoumdjian’s electronic backing music with live chamber music performers. It weaves the score together with piercing visual imagery that Syrian-Armenian media designer Kevork Mourad derived from Stojka’s own paintings.

In Honor of Ceija Stojka, "to open myself, to scream" will stream free-of-charge throughout the month of September