MOR’s Free Chamber Music Concert Celebrates Pola Braun’s Warsaw Ghetto Poetry and Songs
Seattle, WA (September 27, 2012)—On October 20, at 2:00 p.m., Seattle’s Music of Remembrance begins its eighth season of Sparks of Glory, the chamber music organization’s free-to-the-public outreach concerts. Since 2005, the concert-with-commentary series has brought live music to neighborhoods all around Seattle.
The October concert at Seattle Art Museum’s Plestcheeff Auditorium is a musical response to “Elles,” SAM’s landmark exhibition organized by the Centre Pompidou in Paris. “Elles” explores how pioneering women artists have helped shape the major movements of modern and contemporary art, featuring works from 75 women, including Sonia Delaunay, Frida Kahlo, Dora Maar, Diane Arbus, Marina Abramovic, Louise Bourgeois, Atsuko Tanaka, Cindy Sherman, Sophie Calle, Hannah Wilke, Nan Goldin and Tania Bruguera.
MOR Artistic Director Mina Miller will introduce the Sparks of Glory audience to the life and work of Polish cabaret artist Pola Braun, followed by a performance of composer Thomas Pasatieri’s Letter to Warsaw. Through Braun’s words, Letter to Warsaw opens a window onto the emotional life of women trapped in the web of Holocaust tragedy. A composer and poet, Braun wrote the texts used in Letter to Warsaw while living in the Warsaw ghetto and then imprisoned in the Majdanek concentration camp, where she perished in 1943.
Pasatieri—known for his operas and for film scores that range from American Beauty to The Shawshank Redemption—was struck by Braun’s intimate, first-hand accounts of life in the grip of the Holocaust, and inspired, he says, by “their descriptions of a woman’s loss of freedom and her home.” Soprano Kimberly Giordano will perform this moving song cycle.
Also on the program is String Quartet No. 3, by Szymon Laks, a Polish composer and violinist who wrote later about his experience as head of the inmates’ orchestra at Auschwitz-Birkenau. He remembered first seeing, incongruously, music stands at the death camp and wondering: “Who plays music here? The executioner, or his victims? What type of music do they play? Danses macabres? Funeral songs? Hitlerian chants?” His third string quartet, composed immediately after the war, references Polish folk tunes. Music critic Bernard Jacobson has described it as “a most charming and expertly written piece, and clearly the work of a gifted composer.”
2:00 p.m., Saturday, October 20, 2012
Plestcheeff Auditorium, Seattle Art Museum
Letter to Warsaw (2004), a MOR Commission
Kimberly Giordano, soprano; Mina Miller, piano
String Quartet No. 3 (1945)
Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Leonid Keylin, violin; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola, Mara Finkelstein, cello
About Music of Remembrance
Music of Remembrance (MOR) fills a unique 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 Sparks of Glory outreach series has combined free public concerts with commentary by Artistic Director Mina Miller, reaching beyond the concert hall through performance residencies around Seattle. MOR has also produced six CDs—five on Naxos, the world’s leading classical music label—and two documentaries, both by award-winning filmmaker John Sharify. More information available at www.musicofremembrance.org.