Satire And Survival Unite In Artistic Resistance At Music Of Remembrance’s 14th Season

World Premiere from Composer Jake Heggie & Librettist Gene Scheer

SEATTLE, WA—August 2, 2011—Music of Remembrance’s fourteenth season includes two chamber music concerts—November 7, 2011, and May 14, 2012—at the Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall. The mission of the Seattle-based chamber music organization is to introduce Holocaust-era artists, their lives and works, to new audiences, through performance of rarely heard pieces and new commissions.

For their 2011-12 season, MOR’s theme is “music behind barbed wire.” The season’s features include Austrian-born composer Hans Gál’s ironic musical parody about life in a British detention camp, and the world premiere of a Jake Heggie commission. The Heggie work is based on the true story of the heroic Polish resistor Krystyna Zywulska, and the agonizing dilemmas she confronted in her struggle to stay alive.

“Each artist’s story we tell has a different ending. Some biographies, tragically, ended in the Nazi machinery of death,” MOR Artistic Director Mina Miller said. “But others escaped that fate. Still others emigrated, and immeasurably enriched the musical lives of their adopted homelands. We consider them fortunate to have survived, but we often overlook the obstacles they faced in rebuilding their lives and careers. This season, we revisit those struggles and celebrate their musical legacies.”

The highlight of MOR’s November 7, 2011 concert is the West Coast premiere of Hans Gál’s satiric revue What a Life!, written and performed for the entertainment of Gál’s fellow prisoners in a British detention camp on the Isle of Man during the summer of 1940. When the war broke out, Gál was one of the thousands of recent refugees, including many Jews, to be interned as “enemy aliens.” Tenor Ross Hauck and baritone Erich Parce will sing ironic numbers like “The Barbed Wire Song,” “The Ballad of the German Refugee,” and “The Song of the Double Bed,” coupled with readings from Gáls’ eloquent camp diary by ACT Theater’s Kurt Beattie. MOR will also perform Gál’s Huyton Suite, composed in the Huyton Camp near Liverpool at the start of his internment, scoring it for flute and two violins because he had access to only those instruments.

A string quartet by Vilem Tausky, a fellow émigré composer and “leading light of postwar British musical life” (The Times of London), is a musical meditation on the horrors of war, written almost immediately after the composer witnessed the bombing of Coventry. Marcel Tyberg’s lushly romantic piano trio, composed in 1936, is another West Coast premiere, an introduction to a Viennese composer whose works have only recently been rescued from oblivion. Tyberg perished in Auschwitz.

Commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day, the May 14, 2012 concert brings the world premiere of MOR’s most recent commission: Another Sunrise. This is MOR’s second commission from composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer (after 2007’s For a Look or a Touch), and it tells of the day-to-day fight for survival of Krystyna Zywulska. With her mother, Krystyna walked out of the Warsaw ghetto in broad daylight in 1942, and joined the Polish resistance. Captured by the Gestapo and sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, she wrote satiric poems that became camp anthems of resistance. Soprano Caitlin Lynch—who also appears in Fall 2011 with Seattle Opera as Micäela in Carmen—will create the role of Krystyna in this theatrical song cycle.

“As a theater composer of opera and song, I’m particularly inspired by stories of social justice, the inequities of life, and how we are all connected as human beings despite those inequities. Stories of personal redemption, transformation, and transcendence speak loudly to me in musical terms,” said composer Jake Heggie, who was in touch with Zywulska’s son before embarking on the commission. “The full breadth of Krystyna Zywulska’s work as a memoirist, poet and satirist is still being revealed and given new appreciation; her story cries out to be told through theater and poetry.”

The Northwest Boychoir returns to MOR to perform a set of beautiful Yiddish and Hebrew folk songs, in a haunting arrangement created by Viktor Ullmann in the Terezín concentration camp. Two works by Pavel Haas and Syzmon Laks are eloquent celebrations of national identities under assault by the Nazi onslaught. Composed in 1939, just after the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, Haas’ suite for oboe and piano expresses an intense love of country by incorporating the melody of the St. Wenceslas chorale−the emblematic Czech musical symbol—while Laks’ third string quartet, his first composition after liberation from Auschwitz, returns to folk and dance elements of regions of his native Poland.

Mainstage Concert Ticket Information:
Season Tickets: $72
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Fall Concert: What a Life!
A concert to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of Kristallnacht
Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya Hall, Seattle
7:30 p.m., Monday, November 7, 2011

Vilem Tausky
Coventry: A Meditation for String Quartet (1941)
Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Leonid Keylin, violin; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola; Mara Finkelstein, cello

Hans Gál
Huyton Suite, Op. 92 (1940)
Zart Dombourian-Eby, flute; Elisa Barston, violin; Mikhail Shmidt, violin

Marcel Tyberg
West Coast Premiere: Piano Trio (1936)
Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Walter Gray, cello; Craig Sheppard, piano

Hans Gál
West Coast Premiere: What a Life! (1940)
Kurt Beattie, actor
Ross Hauck, tenor; Erich Parce, baritone
Zart Dombourian-Eby, flute; Laura DeLuca, clarinet; Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Leonid Keylin, violin; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola; Mara Finkelstein, cello; Mina Miller, piano

Spring Concert: Another Sunrise
A concert to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day
Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya Hall, Seattle
6:30 p.m., Monday, May 14, 2012

6:00 p.m. Meet the Composer & Librettist: A conversation with Jake Heggie & Gene Scheer

Syzmon Laks
String Quartet No. 3 (1945)
Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Leonid Keylin, violin; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola; Mara Finkelstein, cello

Pavel Haas
Suite for Oboe and Piano, Op. 17 (1939)
Benjamin Hausmann, oboe; Mina Miller, piano

Viktor Ullmann
Choral Arrangements of Yiddish and Hebrew Songs (Terezín,1942)
The Northwest Boychoir, Joseph Crnko, conductor

Jake Heggie
WORLD PREMIERE: Another Sunrise (2012)
Libretto by Gene Scheer
A dramatic song cycle commissioned by Music of Remembrance
Caitlin Lynch, soprano
Laura DeLuca, clarinet; Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Walter Gray, cello; Jonathan Green, double bass; Craig Sheppard, piano

For more information on this commission, see Another Sunrise in the New Works section of MOR’s website:

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 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 from award-winning filmmaker John Sharify. More information available at

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