Sparks of Glory Series

Sparks of Glory: In Sleep The World Is Yours

Time: 
Saturday, October 11, 2014 - 2:00pm

Free to the public.

2014 marks 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 includes 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 draws 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 sings 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

Venue: 
Hillel UW
Time: 
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

Time: 
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

Time: 
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

Time: 
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

Time: 
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

Time: 
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

Jew
Tsurik a heym
Mother
Letter to Warsaw
An Ordinary Day
Moving Day
Kaddish

Kimberly Giordano, soprano; Mina Miller, piano

Sparks of Glory: Far is My Home

Time: 
Saturday, April 21, 2012 - 2:00pm

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

Excerpt from Terezín Cabaret Music:

Works from composers imprisoned in concentration camps create a program suffused with a longing to be elsewhere. Artistic Director Mina Miller will use examples from SAM’s Gauguin exhibit to examine non-Western influences in fascinating music works which emerged from the concentration camp Terezín, infamous from its use in Nazi propaganda. Audiences will hear Gideon Klein's haunting Fantasy and Fugue, Robert Dauber's salon-tinged Serenata, and spirited cabaret music sung by Terezín inmates to Terezín inmates, by baritone Erich Parce. Erwin Schulhoff's Five Pieces for String Quartet was written in 1923, but, inflected as it is with jazz, folk, and dance influences, it makes a soundtrack complementary to any post-concert tour of Gauguin's works. Twenty years after its composition, Schulhoff would perish in a Nazi slave labor camp.

Musicians: Mara Finkelstein, cello; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola; Leonid Keylin, violin; Mina Miller, piano; Mikhail Shmidt, violin

Sparks of Glory: Not Martyrs, Not Saints

Time: 
Saturday, March 24, 2012 - 2:00pm

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

Two contemporary composers, Simon Sargon and Osvaldo Golijov, are on the program, along with the audacious and innovative Erwin Schulhoff, who died in the Wülzburg concentration camp. Artistic Director Mina Miller discusses the varied ways living composers respond to the Holocaust: Sargon's Shema sets poems by Holocaust survivor Primo Levi (to be sung by soprano Megan Chenovick), while Golijov's Lullaby and Doina was conceived for a movie about Jews and gypsies. Schulhoff's Concertino for Flute, Viola and Doublebass was written in 1925, and grew out of his fascination with Slavonic folk music.

Musicians: Megan Chenovick, soprano; Laura DeLuca, clarinet; Zart Dombourian-Eby, flute; Mara Finkelstein, cello; Jonathan Green, double bass; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola; Mina Miller, piano; Mikhail Shmidt, violin

Sparks of Glory: Between Two Worlds

Time: 
Saturday, January 28, 2012 - 2:00pm

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

The concert features three works created between 1922 and 1948, charting a revival of interest in Jewish folklore and music in the young Soviet Union, followed by Stalinist-era repression. The unusual focus of the concert is the dybbuk of Jewish folk imagination, a spirit that possesses people, taking over their will for its own ends. Performing will be Seattle Symphony violinists Mikhail Shmidt and Leonid Keylin, both Russian themselves, along with Laura DeLuca, clarinet; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola; Walter Gray, cello; Jonathan Green, double bass, and Matthew Kocmieroski, percussion.

Both Joel Engels’ The Dybbuk Suite and David Beigelman’s Dybbuk Dances were written for S. Ansky’s iconic 1922 play The Dybbuk. Engels’ suite is taken from incidental music for the original play, while Beigelman wrote his Dances in 1941, for performances given at the Lodz ghetto where he was imprisoned by the Nazis. (Many have considered Engel—who played a prominent role in Moscow’s Society for Jewish Folk Music—the founder of the modern school of Jewish national art music.)

An ethnographer as well as a playwright, Ansky had led expeditions in search of Jewish folklore in the shtetls of the Pale of Settlement, and been fascinated by the legend of the dybbuk. His play takes place on a wedding day, when the bride-to-be is possessed by the soul of a brilliant Talmudic scholar who died of unrequited love for her.

Artistic Director Mina Miller explains how the play, rooted in Jewish folklore, relates to the musical legacy of the Holocaust that MOR commemorates: “Folklore offers us poignant reminders of what also died with the individual lives the Nazis sought to extinguish—thriving Eastern European cultures. When you revisit it, you learn The Dybbuk is a richly layered morality tale, about tensions between spiritual and material realms. Such conflicts continue to haunt our own times, making this piece highly relevant for today’s audiences.”

The Dybbuk went on to become a cornerstone of Yiddish theater in Europe and America. Its success helped launch a famous Yiddish theatre company in the young Soviet Union, where an emerging movement of Jewish self-expression would be buffeted for decades by the shifting winds of Soviet ideology and politics. At the concert, Miller will talk about those social forces, seen swirling in The Dybbuk, which would soon transform the world in ways that nobody then could imagine.

In contrast, Dmitri Shostakovich’s song cycle From Jewish Folk Poetry, one of his most intimately evocative compositions, was created in 1948 but waited for its premiere until 1955, due largely to Stalin’s disfavor with the composer and to Soviet anti-Semitism in general. Shostakovich was inspired by the Russian translation of a collection of Jewish folk songs compiled by Yekhezkel Dobrushin. The first eight songs reflect the pain and suffering of the pre-Revolutionary past—and employ Jewish folk melodies—while the final three songs emphasize the good Soviet life and sound more like official workers’ song than art songs.

Guest vocalists for the song cycle will be soprano Megan Chenovick, mezzo soprano Kathryn Weld, and tenor Ross Hauck.

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