MOR’s “Sparks of Glory” Series Revisits A Concentration Camp’s Extraordinary Musical Legacy

Portland Opera Mezzo Soprano Angela Niederloh Sings Songs from Terezín

SEATTLE, WA—March 1, 2011—Music of Remembrance (MOR) concludes the sixth season of its free Sparks of Glory concerts-with-commentary at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) Downtown, 1300 First Avenue on Saturday, April 9 at 2:00 p.m. Since 2005, this free public series has introduced thousands of people to the musical legacy of the Holocaust.

This season’s closing concert-with-commentary guides listeners through the genre-spanning musical legacy of Terezín: from the raucous, satirical and nostalgic cabaret songs that circulated around the Nazi concentration camp, to the Yiddish songs of Victor Ullmann and the chamber music of Hans Krása and Erwin Schulhoff. Portland Opera mezzo soprano Angela Niederloh will sing Carlo Taube’s lullaby A Jewish Child, Ilse Weber’s I Wander Through Theresienstadt, and a “cradle song” by Gideon Klein, as well as Viktor Ullmann’s Brezulinka, a collection of three Yiddish songs.

MOR Artistic Director Miller, an internationally-known speaker on musicians’ spiritual resistance during the Holocaust, will introduce the works and their composers, and provide social and historical contexts for the pieces at the 90-minute Saturday afternoon performance. Miller will draw links between visual art on display at SAM and the artistic ferment at Terezín, communicating the precious role that this cultural life played in the lives of the camp’s inmates. Despite Nazi propaganda that cynically depicted Terezín as “the Führer’s gift to the Jews, ” the camp brought starvation, disease and brutal cold. The camp was a way-station from which nearly all inmates were sent to their deaths in extermination camps to the East.

“They gathered at the café,” says Miller, “even though there was no food. If you could get a ticket, you could listen to music for up to two hours. The music created was a unique form of artistic resistance, a refusal to be dehumanized.”

Czech composers Hans Krása are remembered for their orchestral and chamber compositions, their songs, and their music for opera and theater stage. For this program, MOR shines a light on two lesser-known compositions. Krása originally wrote the theme for Theme and Variations in 1935 as part of the incidental music to a theatrical piece by Hoffmeister. Ullmann, in three songs, ranges from Mahler-esque to the waltz. And audiences will hear Erwin Schulhoff’s audaciously original voice. His string quartets reflect the influence of Slavonic folksong and the dance music of the day. The Nazis banned Schulhoff’s music as “degenerate,” and his fascinating career was brought to an abrupt end in a Bavarian concentration camp.

These free Sparks of Glory concerts-with-commentary are performed by some of Seattle’s leading chamber musicians. The April 9 event showcases Seattle Symphony artists Mikhail Shmidt, Leonid Keylin and Susan Gulkis Assadi, in addition to Northwest Sinfonietta’s cellist Mara Finkelstein and MOR’s Mina Miller, on piano. The guest vocalist is Portland Opera mezzo soprano Angela Niederloh.

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*

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.

Publication Date