Sparks of Glory Series

Film Screening: "The Boys of Terezín"

Saturday, October 22, 2016 - 2:00pm

Five Holocaust survivors, a boychoir, and a chamber music group unite to tell the story of the secret concentration camp journal created under the nose of their Nazi captors.

Film Screening: The Boys of Terezín
Saturday, October 22, 2016 
2 - 4 p.m.
Seattle Art Museum, Plestcheeff Auditorium
1300 1st Ave, Seattle, WA

Free and open to the public

This program will also include a live performance of chamber music composed in Terezín, and a discussion relating the film's themes to SAM's exhibit "Go Tell It: Civil Rights Photography." Filmmaker John Sharify leads a Q/A following the screening.

About the film:

A True Story Most People Have Never Heard

You’re a Jewish teenager—in 1942. The Nazis occupy your country, and you’re deported to the concentration camp at Terezín. You don’t know your fate—but in fact most of the children there will be sent to a death camp at some time in the next two years.

It’s very easy for young people today to see a tragedy like the Holocaust as something from the distant past that could never happen to me. But for members of Seattle’s acclaimed Northwest Boychoir, their rehearsal of a new oratorio is about to open their eyes to what the Holocaust’s genocide meant to teens just like them. They’re going to meet the surviving “boys of Terezín,” and learn the poems that the boys wrote for their secret magazine VEDEM while imprisoned by Nazis.

Stunning music by American composer Lori Laitman illuminates the boys’ homesickness, fatigue from cold and hunger, and anger at their imprisonment—and also their humor, courage and unity even at the darkest of times.

In a poignant finale, four “boys of Terezín” reunite in Seattle—after sixty-five years—for the world premiere performance of the new Music of Remembrance oratorio, remembering their lost friends, honoring the courage and idealism they all shared, and proving that nothing is as deeply human as the music we share.

The History of VEDEM

A group of 100 teenage boys lived in the same room, Home One, at Terezín. Terezín is known by many for its use in Nazi propaganda depicting it as “the Fuehrer’s gift to Jews.” In reality, life there was brutal, cut short by cold, disease, starvation—and regular deportations to death camps. Of the 15,000 children sent to Terezín, less than 1,000 were alive by war’s end.

The boys in Home One, aged thirteen to sixteen, documented their lives in a secret weekly magazine that they called VEDEM (Czech for “In the Lead”). They drew pictures, and wrote essays, interviews and poetry. It was a huge risk—they would have been sent to death camps if caught—but the magazine was never discovered. Sidney Taussig, the only boy to remain at Terezín until the end of the war, buried about 800 pages of the magazine, then retrieved the manuscript after liberation.

Length: 51:20
Producer, director, writer, and narrator: John Sharify
Cinematographer: Tim Griffis
Festivals/broadcasters: For information on screenings or airings, email us.

Led by Artistic Director Mina Miller, Music of Remembrance fills a unique spiritual and cultural role in Seattle and throughout the world by remembering Holocaust musicians and their art through musical performances, educational programs, musical recordings, and commissions of new works.

With John Sharify, we have also produced a 15-minute educational version, The Boys of Home One, for classroom use. If you are a student, teacher, or parent, we would love to speak with you about how we can bring it to your school as part of MOR's outreach program. Contact us for more information:

Read more about the film at:

Download "The Boys of Terezín" Electronic Press Kit

Sparks of Glory: After Life

Saturday, September 26, 2015 - 2:00pm

Free to the public.

Music of Remembrance opens its eighteenth season with a free community concert on Saturday, September 26 at the Seattle Art Museum.  The afternoon’s program, “After Life,” begins at 2:00 p.m. at the museum’s Plestcheeff Auditorium. The varied program includes works by Darius Milhaud, Rosy Wertheim, Henriette Bosmans and Tom Cipullo. MOR’s Artistic Director Mina Miller will introduce the concert with commentary that links the music with the museum’s exhibit Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art which opens on October 1. The exhibition is comprised of 71 extraordinary paintings, considered to be jewels of one of the finest collections of French Impressionism in the world. 

The program features highlights from Tom Cipullo’s After Life. This compelling new opera, premiered by Music of Remembrance earlier this year, reunites the ghosts of Pablo Picasso and Gertrude Stein in a dramatic encounter. Stein and Picasso were towering artistic figures of the 20th century and among its most influential. For decades they maintained an unusual friendship, but they held starkly opposed views and responded in strikingly different ways – in their lives and their art – to the Second World War and the Nazi occupation of Europe.  When they meet again in After Life, they debate the responsibility of artists to address the evil they see in the world.  They confront each other’s weaknesses, and their own, in succumbing to vanity and ego.

The concert begins with Darius Milhaud’s 1936 Suite for Violin, Clarinet and Piano. This engaging work is drawn from the composer’s incidental music for Jean Anouilh’s play “Le voyageur sans baggage” (“The Traveler without Luggage”). The play is an ironic critique of identity and class, and Milhaud’s sprightly music captures the play’s existential absurdity. The clouds of World War II were forming, though, when Milhaud wrote this music.  Born to a Jewish family in Marseilles, Milhaud was forced to leave France in 1940 until the end of the war. We also perform short pieces by Rosy Wertheim and Henriette Bosmans, two Dutch women composers whose lives and art were profoundly affected by the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.  

Our guest vocalists – sopranos Karen Early Evans and Courtney Ruckman, and baritone Erich Parce – will be joined by MOR’s stellar instrumental ensemble drawn largely from the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, and by pianists Mark Salman and Mina Miller.


After Life

Concert Ticket Information

Free and open to the public.

Saturday, September 26, 2015, 2:00 P.M.

Plestcheeff Auditorium, Seattle Art Museum

1300 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 98101





Darius Milhaud
Suite for Violin, Clarinet and Piano, Op. 157b (1936)

Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Laura DeLuca, clarinet; Mark Salman, piano


Rosy Wertheim
Le Tsigane Dans La Lune

Courtney Ruckman, soprano; Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Mina Miller, piano


Henriette Bosmans
Nuit Calme (1926)

Walter Gray, cello; Mina Miller, piano


Tom Cipullo
After Life (2015) – selected arias

Libretto by David Mason




           Karen Early Evans, soprano

            Erich Parce, baritone

           Courtney Ruckman, soprano


Zart Dombourian-Eby, flute; Laura DeLuca, clarinet; Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Walter Gray, cello

Mark Salman, piano

Featured Works

After Life (2015)

Sparks of Glory: Until When

Saturday, March 7, 2015 - 2:00pm

Free to the public.

On February 12, SAM showcased one of the most exquisite collections of Native American art in private hands: Indigenous Beauty: Masterworks of American Indian Art from the Diker Collection. The exhibit’s artifacts and tribal art challenged us to confront questions of how cultures maintain their identities and traditions, especially when faced by existential threat. These challenges also suffused MOR’s concert on March 7th, 2015. The Nazi assault destroyed the vibrant and distinctive communal life that had long characterized Jewish Europe. Our musical program featured works by two American and two Israeli composers whose work touch on the emotional struggle of loss and destruction, and the renewal of self and community. Israeli composer Eugene Levitas' song cycle Until When? sets five compelling verses by the Hungarian poet and Holocaust survivor Yaakov Barzilai. Barzilai survived the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where his father and grandfather were murdered, and he has dedicated his life to communicating the lessons of the Holocaust through poetry. Marc Lavry’s Suite Concertante exemplifies the distinctive Israeli style that the composer helped establish after escaping to Palestine from Nazi-controlled Europe. American composer Lori Laitman’s song cycle Todesfuge, is a setting of the famous writer Paul Celan’s hauntingly vivid poem recalling the horrors he saw. David Stock’s A Vanished World, commissioned by Music of Remembrance, offers a nostalgic reminiscence of shtetl life in pre-war Eastern Europe.


Concert Program:


Marc Lavry

Suite Concertante for Flute, Viola & Harp, Op. 348
Zart Dombourian-Eby, flute; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola & Valerie Muzzolini, harp


Eugene Levitas

Until When?
Karen Early Evans, soprano; Walter Gray, cello; Mina Miller, piano; Erich Parce, narrator


Lori Laitman

Erich Parce, baritone; Walter Gray, cello


David Stock

A Vanished World (commissioned by Music of Remembrance)
Zart Dombourian-Eby, flute; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola & Valerie Muzzolini, harp


Click here to view the Until When concert flyer.

At our Sparks of Glory outreach series, MOR greets loyal friends and meets new audience members as we perform beyond the concert hall, in communities around Seattle. At these 90-minute concerts-with-commentary, Mina Miller―MOR artistic director, pianist, and international speaker on musicians’ resistance during the Holocaust―shares her insights on each piece and her passion for preserving this precious cultural legacy through performance and education. Thanks to our donors and the NEA, MOR's musical witness outreach series, Sparks of Glory, has been presented free to the public since our 2005-06 season.

Sparks of Glory: In Sleep The World Is Yours

Saturday, October 11, 2014 - 2:00pm

Free to the public.

2014 marked the centennary of the outbreak of the First World War, a conflict that ended the world as many knew it and ushered in a frenzied creative turmoil in all of the arts.  SAM’s collection included pioneering works that reflect the radical artistic innovation that emerged in WW I’s wake. In this concert-with-commentary, MOR Artistic Director Mina Miller drew on these art works to illustrate how the period’s new musical directions responded to the same upheaval. Composer Erwin Schulhoff was profoundly disillusioned by the war, and his early musical style was influenced by the Dadaist movement. The iconoclastic Schulhoff was silenced in a Nazi labor camp, but his Second String Quartet  (1925) exemplifies the audacity that made him an important musical figure between the two world wars. The Hungarian composer László Weiner died at 28 in a Nazi labor camp, but his beautiful Duo for violin and viola (1939) is a haunting reminder of a potential the world will never know. Soprano Megan Chenovick sung American composer Lori Laitman’s In Sleep The World Is Yours. This 2013 song cycle, commissioned by MOR, sets the poignant poetry of Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger, a promising young talent who died in a Nazi slave labor camp at the age of eighteen. We’ll never know what music these artists might have created in a longer life and in a normal world, but their moral courage can inspire us all, and challenge us to understand the extraordinary depth of human capacity. All works performed by some of Seattle’s stellar instrumentalists, many drawn from the Seattle Symphony. 

Concert Program:

Erwin Shulhoff
String Quartet No. 2 (1925)
Mikhail Shmidt and Leonid Keylin, violins; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola; Mara Finkelstein, cello

Laszlo Weiner
Duo for Violin and Viola (1939)
Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola

Lori Laitman
In Sleep the World Is Yours (2014)
Poetry by Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger
(b. Czernowitz, Romania, 1924 - d. Michailowka labor camp, Ukraine, 1942)
Commissioned by Music of Remembrance
Made possible by Music of Remembrance's Commissioning Circle
Megan Chenovick, soprano; Ben Hausmann, oboe; Mina Miller, piano

Lori Laitman offers the following remarks:

Selma was born to a German-speaking Romanian Jewish family in 1924. A talented writer, she began creating poetry at age 15. Her works consist of fifty-two poems and five translations. In 1942 at age 18, Selma died of typhus in a labor camp in the Ukraine. Thanks to the dedication and love of her friends, and later her relatives, her poetry survived, and resulted in the 2008 publication Harvest of Blossoms. What I found inspiring about Selma’s poetry was that she was able to speak the truth in simple but clear poetic language. Behind the apparent simplicity of her words, however, was a depth of feeling and thought that, for me as a composer, was very exciting — because when setting a poem to music, I look for words that an audience can grasp aurally —but also for an underlying complexity that provides me with opportunities for creating dramatic music to illuminate the text. In this respect, Selma’s poems were perfect.

I chose three poems from Selma’s book: Lullaby, Yes and Tragedy, allowing me to create a cycle with a dramatic musical arc. The combination of soprano, oboe and piano perfectly suited the mood of the poems.

Lullaby spotlights Selma’s imagination, her capacity for love and hope, as well as her sense of foreboding and the realization that dreams might provide the only comfort in the increasingly dark days.

Yes is a good example of simple surface language combined with a complicated subtext. The song progresses from a turbulent opening to a peaceful close, as Selma understands how memory will always keep loved ones close.

Tragedy ends the work, and Selma’s heartbreaking words reveal her reality: “to give all of yourself and realize/you’ll fade like smoke and leave no trace.” Yet, Selma kept writing. She knew how important the mind and imagination were when facing the unimaginable.

And how lucky for us that she did leave a trace. While one wonders how she would have grown, her beautiful poetry gives us a glimpse of a supremely intelligent, spirited and gifted young girl.

Sparks of Glory: Mirror of Memory

Hillel UW
Monday, January 27, 2014 - 7:00pm
Additional times: 
*Saturday, February 1 at 2:00 p.m. at the Tacoma Art Museum

Free to the public.

This event was part of our free Sparks of Glory educational series.

For this debut concert at Hillel UW, the Seattle-based Music of Remembrance (MOR) performed a free 60-minute program of chamber music for strings by composers who were imprisoned in concentration camps and ghettos: Gideon Klein and Hans Krása (Terezín); David Beigelman (Lodz Ghetto); Erwin Schulhoff (Wülzburg). Remarkably, the musicians and composers imprisoned in Terezín never ceased creating. MOR Artistic Director Mina Miller, an authority on the music of the Holocaust era, introduces each work with commentary about its musical and historical context. The performers, members of MOR’s stellar instrumental ensemble, are among Seattle’s leading musicians, drawn largely from the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.

*An encore performance of this free-concert-with-commentary took place at the Tacoma Art Museum - MOR's Tacoma debut!

Sparks of Glory: Mirror of Memory
Saturday, February 1, 2014
2:00 p.m.
Tacoma Art Museum
1701 Pacific Avenue
Tacoma, WA 98402

Sparks of Glory: Farewell, Auschwitz

Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 2:00pm
Additional times: 
*Wednesday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m. on Mercer Island and Friday, April 25 at 7:30 p.m. on Bainbridge Island

Free to the public.

This event was part of our free Sparks of Glory educational series.

SAM’s exhibition “Miró: The Experience of Seeing” offers a fresh assessment of the late period of the artist’s work. It has been said that Miró’s rich, mature style evolved from the tension between his fanciful poetic impulse and his vision of the harshness of modern life. Today’s concert reflects Miró’s remarkable insight on visual art, poetry, and music: “I try to apply colors like words that shape poems, like notes that shape music.” American composer Lori Laitman’s I Never Saw Another Butterfly and Vedem are based on the verses of young prisoners in the Terezín concentration camp, and The Seed of Dream sets poetry that Abraham Sutzkever wrote in the Vilna Ghetto before he escaped and became a resistance fighter. Farewell, Auschwitz is Jake Heggie’s musical setting of Krystyna Zywulska’s poems that circulated secretly in Auschwitz and became anthems of resistance among her fellow prisoners.

*Encore performances of this free-concert-with-commentary:

  • Wednesday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m. at the Mercer Island Congregational Church
    4545 Island Crest Way
    Mercer Island, WA 98040
  • Friday, April 25 at 7:00 p.m. at Grace Church on Bainbridge Island.
    8595 NE Day Rd
    Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

Sparks of Glory: Voice of the Heart

Saturday, October 5, 2013 - 2:00pm
Additional times: 
*Monday, October 7 at 7:30 p.m. on Bainbridge Island

Free to the public.

This event was part of our free Sparks of Glory educational series.

SAM's exhibit "In a Silent Way" is a profound and deeply-moving reflection on African-American identities and histories. This MOR concert-with-commentary, introduced by Artistic Director Mina Miller, explores how music has expressed struggles between continuity and assimilation during times of conflict and persecution. The innovative Erwin Schulhoff was silenced in a Nazi prison camp, but his Concertino exemplifies the audacity that made him an important musical figure between the two World Wars. Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov's Lullaby and Doina tells the love story of a young Jewish woman and a Gypsy man in war-torn Europe. The Hungarian composer Laszlo Weiner died at 28 in a Nazi labor camp, but his beautiful String Trio is a haunting reminder of a potential the world will never know.

*An encore performance of this free-concert-with-commentary will take place on Monday, October 7, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. at Bainbridge Island's Waterfront Park Community Center-just a 10 minute walk from the ferry!

String Trio - Serenade (1938)
Laszlo Weiner
Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola; Mara Finkelstein, cello

Three Jewish Dances (1945)
Marc Lavry
Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Mina Miller, piano

Concertino (1925)
Erwin Schulhoff
Zart Dombourian-Eby, flute; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola; Jonathan Green, double bass

Lullaby & Doina (2001)
Osvaldo Golijov
Zart Dombourian-Eby, flute; Laura DeLuca, clarinet; Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola; Mara Finkelstein, cello; Jonathan Green, double bass

Sparks of Glory: Another Sunrise

Saturday, June 15, 2013 - 2:00pm

Jake Heggie’s Another Sunrise, sung by soprano Corinna Quilliam, is an intense musical drama that tells the extraordinary story of Krystyna Zywulska. With her mother, Krystyna walked out of the Warsaw ghetto in broad daylight. As a member of the Polish resistance, she counterfeited identity cards and other documents. She was captured by the Gestapo in 1943 and sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where she wrote satiric poems that circulated secretly and became camp anthems of resistance. The program also includes the stunning Duo by Erwin Schulhoff, an iconoclastic innovator whose politics and avant-garde musical ideas were shaped by his disillusionment after World War I. Before the MOR ensemble takes the stage at SAM, MOR Artistic Director Mina Miller will share musical and historical commentary about the works to be performed, illuminating the Holocaust’s extraordinary musical legacy.


Featured Works

Another Sunrise (2012)
Duo (1925)

Sparks of Glory: Different Trains

Saturday, January 26, 2013 - 2:00pm

This event is part of our free Sparks of Glory educational series.

SAM’s exhibitions explore the many ways in which artists have responded, in their work, to world-changing events. Our concert includes the music of two important contemporary American composers addressing this challenge. Steve Reich’s acclaimed Different Trains was inspired by childhood memories of his transcontinental train trips between his separated parents during World War II, and the tragic irony of the different rail journeys made by European children of the same age. Lori Laitman’s The Seed of Dream is a song cycle based on poems that Abraham Sutzkever wrote in the Vilna Ghetto before he escaped and became a resistance fighter.

Steve Reich's Different Trains

Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Elisa Barston, violin; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola; Walter Gray, cello

Lori Laitman's The Seed of Dream


Erich Parce, baritone; Walter Gray, cello; Mina Miller, piano

Featured Works

Sparks of Glory: Letter to Warsaw

Saturday, October 20, 2012 - 2:00pm

This event is part of our free Sparks of Glory educational series.

On October 10th, SAM launches “Elles,” a landmark exhibition organized by the Centre Pompidou in Paris that explores how pioneering women artists have helped shape the major movements of modern and contemporary art. Our musical program features soprano Kimberly Giordano in Letter to Warsaw, a musical portrait of one woman’s intimate first-hand account of life in the grip of the Holocaust.

American composer Thomas Pasatieri’s powerful song cycle sets six texts that poet/cabaret artist Pola Braun wrote while in the Warsaw ghetto and in the Majdanek concentration camp, where she perished in 1943. It opens a window to the emotional life of all women trapped in the web of Holocaust tragedy, and tells a story reminding us that each victim of the Holocaust was an individual, not a statistic.


Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Leonid Keylin, violin; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola; Mara Finkelstein, cello

Syzmon Laks..............................................................................String Quartet No. 3
(b. Warsaw, 1901 – d. Paris, 1983)                                                                  (1945)

Allegro quasi presto
Poco lento, sostenuto
Vivace non troppo
Allegro moderato, giusto

Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Leonid Keylin, violin; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola; Mara Finkelstein, cello

Thomas Pasatieri..........................................................................Letter to Warsaw
(b. New York, 1945)                                                                                             (2003)

Commissioned by Music of Remembrance
West Coast Premiere of Song Cycle version

Poetry by Pola Braun (c.1910-1943) Warsaw Ghetto; Majdanek Concentration Camp
English translation: Barbara Milewski

Tsurik a heym
Letter to Warsaw
An Ordinary Day
Moving Day

Kimberly Giordano, soprano; Mina Miller, piano

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