MOR Plays A Free “Rush Hour” Chamber Music Concert This March 14

Post-Concert “Meet the Composer” Chat Features Lori Laitman

SEATTLE, WA—February 2, 2011—Music of Remembrance (MOR) continues the sixth season of its free Sparks of Glory concerts-with-commentary with a concert at a new night and time: Monday, March 14, at 6 p.m. Since 2005, this unique series has introduced thousands of people to the musical legacy of the Holocaust on Saturday afternoons. Now, commuters can come after work to this 90-minute chamber music concert, followed by a post-concert “Meet the Composer” conversation with Lori Laitman.

American composer Lori Laitman, who wrote the oratorio Vedem for MOR last year with librettist David Mason, created The Seed of Dream song cycle as a commission for MOR in 2004. Laitman chose five poems by Yiddish poet and resistance fighter Abraham Sutzkever, whom the New York Times has called “the greatest poet of the Holocaust.”

To introduce the work, Artistic Director Mina Miller will describe life in the Vilna Ghetto in Nazi-occupied Lithuania, where Sutzkever wrote the poems that form Laitman’s song cycle. “Vilna was once known as ‘the Jerusalem of Lithuania,’” says Miller, “and the Vilna Ghetto, even under Nazi rule, did not betray the city’s rich cultural heritage. There was a well-documented artistic life, including musical events and the Ghetto Theatre, which speaks to the courage and resilience of this community living with the daily threat of total destruction.”

Abraham Sutzkever was imprisoned in the Vilna Ghetto with his wife and mother. He joined the Vilna Ghetto underground, smuggled weapons and taught Yiddish poetry. As a member of the “Paper Brigade,” he risked his life to smuggle out hundreds of rare books and manuscripts. Sutzkever escaped the ghetto in 1943, and joined a partisan fighters unit. He survived Nazi anti-guerilla offensives by taking refuge in the forest and freezing waters of Lake Narocz.

With tragedy all around, Sutzkever continued to write his poems of classical meter in perfect rhyme, making aesthetic resistance the subject of his verse. Set to Laitman’s music, the fierce love, regret and poignancy in his words becomes even more potent. In a review of MOR’s recording, Opera News said: “It is hard to resist the harsh irony of ‘A Load of Shoes,’ Laitman’s fast, klezmer-tinted waltz to the poet’s observation of piles of ownerless shoes.”

The program also features works by Hungarian composer Lászlo Weiner and Czech composer Pavel Haas. Weiner was a composition student of Kodály, and studied piano and conducting at the Budapest Academy of Music, emerging as one of Hungary’s musical stars despite the restrictions on Jewish artists.

His Duo for violin and viola sparkles with life, as does the third quartet of Haas, a leader in the extraordinary musical life and resistance at the Terezín concentration camp. The son of a shoemaker, Pavel Haas is considered the most gifted student of Czech composer Leoš Janácěk, and his music combined a Stravinsky-like neo-Classicism with jazz, Czech folk themes and Jewish synagogue music.

These free Sparks of Glory concerts-with-commentary are performed by some of Seattle’s leading chamber musicians. The March 14 event showcases Seattle Symphony artists Mikhail Shmidt, Walter Gray, Susan Gulkis Assadi, and Elisa Barston as well as Mina Miller, a concert pianist herself. The guest vocalist is baritone Erich Parce.

MOR’s education and outreach series, created to bring chamber music to Seattle’s varied communities, is supported this season, in part, by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Sparks of Glory Musical Witness Series

Hosted by the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) & the Good Shepherd Center (GSC)
FREE TO THE PUBLIC*

The Seed of Dream
March 14, 2011, 6:00 p.m.
Good Shepherd Center, Wallingford
 
Laszlo Weiner: Duo (1939)
Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola

Lori Laitman: The Seed of Dream (2004) Music of Remembrance Commission
Erich Parce, baritone
Walter Gray, cello; Mina Miller, piano

Pavel Haas: String Quartet No. 3 (1938)
Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Elisa Barston, violin; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola; Walter Gray, cello

UPCOMING:

Voices of Witness
April 9, 2011, 2:00 p.m.
Plestcheeff Auditorium, Seattle Art Museum

Carlo Taube: “Ein Judische Kind” (Terezin, 1942)
Ilse Weber: “I Wander Through Theresienstadt” (Terezin, 1943)
Gideon Klein: Wiegenlied (Terezin, 1943)
Angela Niederloh, mezzo soprano
Mina Miller, piano

Hans Krása: Theme with Variations (1935)
Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Leonid Keylin, violin; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola; Mara Finkelstein, cello

Viktor Ullmann: Brezulinka (Terezin, 1944)
Angela Niederloh, mezzo soprano
Mina Miller, piano

Erwin Schulhoff: String Quartet No. 1 (1924)
Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Leonid Keylin, violin; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola; Mara Finkelstein, cello

*This series is made possible, in part, with funding provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

About Music of Remembrance
Music of Remembrance (MOR) fills a unique spiritual and cultural role in Seattle and throughout the United States by remembering Holocaust musicians and their art through musical performances, educational programs,  musical recordings and commissions of new works. Since its 1998-99 inaugural year, MOR has presented two major concerts annually at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, marking the anniversary of Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass) each fall and Holocaust Remembrance Day each spring. Since 2005-06, MOR’s outreach series Sparks of Glory has combined free public concerts with commentary by Artistic Director Mina Miller, reaching beyond the concert hall through performance residencies around Seattle. More information available at www.musicofremembrance.org.

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