Welcome to MOR’s 24th season! As we begin to emerge from a year unlike what any of could have expected, the season’s theme THE POWER OF PERSEVERANCE reflects that continuing journey. A journey of hope and commitment. A journey of questions to answer and others waiting to be asked.
And of course the need to persevere remains with us. Thrilled as we are to return to the live stage after these long months away, we’ll be proceeding in a cautious manner with safety protocols that include reduced seating capacity, audience distancing, and masking and vaccination requirements. Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our audience, performers and staff. With circumstances continuing to evolve almost daily, we’ll be prepared to make changes or take any additional steps that become necessary.
Our 2021-2022 season includes three live concerts at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall and one at our newest venue: San Francisco’s Presidio Theatre. Building on the experience we gained last year, we’ll also be offering a series of all-new virtual concerts to reach people everywhere. We’re very excited by what the season will offer, and I’d like to share more about it with you.
A free WELCOME BACK concert!
The opening concert of our season on Sunday, November 7 brings a moment we’ve long awaited: a return to the live stage at Benaroya Hall. We’re proud to present a Welcome Back Concert free to the community. It’s our way of expressing our gratitude to you for persevering with us through a most challenging time. This program sparkles with some of MOR’s most exciting repertoire, reconnecting you with the amazing artistry of some of your favorite MOR performers in works by Bohuslav Martinů, Mieczyslaw Weinberg, and Joseph Achron. You’ll hear new songs that Lori Laitman and Tom Cipullo created for us, inspired by the perseverance of the ginkgo tree that survived devastation to sprout anew; Cabaret songs from Terezín that prisoners wrote and sang under the noses of their Nazi captors; and Polina Nazaykinskaya’s Haim – a tribute to David Arben, who survived seven labor and concentration camps thanks to his violin and went on to an illustrious career in America.
Journeys of hope. Journeys in search of freedom.
Our second Benaroya Hall concert, on Sunday March 13, will feature Sahba Aminikia’s Stormy Seas, telling the true stories of young boat refugees from five countries who braved perilous waters in search of safe shores: Ruth from Nazi Germany; Phu from war-torn Vietnam; José from communist Cuba; Najeeba from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan; Mohamed from an orphanage in Ivory Coast. We presented the world premiere of this MOR commission in one of last year’s online programs, and now you can experience it in the compelling immediacy of our live stage. Rodas Recordada, by Sid Robinovich, recalls the island of Rhodes’ once-thriving Sephardic Jewish community and reveals a surprising connection with Seattle. Plus a pair of haunting songs based on Ladino poems, and music by three Dutch composers touched by the Holocaust.
Hear their story: a family separated by a border
Our third live concert, at Benaroya Hall on Sunday, May 15 and at San Francisco’s Presidio Theatre the following week, features the world premiere of Tres Minutos. the one-act opera that we’ve commissioned from composer Nicolas Benavides and librettist Marella Martin Koch. Soprano Vanessa Isiguen and baritone José Rubio star in the roles of Nila and Diego, a sister and brother who share family bonds but not citizenship. Allowed a brief supervised reunion at the US-Mexico border that separates them, they wrestle with questions of identity, duty and belonging. The compelling work explores the intimate human dimensions of an important issue for our time.
MOR at Your Home!
Three virtual programs take you on a journey of resilience and hope.
Ghetto Songs – December 2021
Art From Ashes – in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day January 27
Injustice – February 2022
Thanks to you, our series of online concerts during the pandemic 2020-2021 season had a real impact, and we’ll be continuing them alongside our live performances. You can look forward to highlights like Erich Parce’s new dramatic realization of Paul Schoenfield’s Ghetto Songs, based on verses of the great Yiddish poet Mordecai Gebirtig. Erich does his magic again as both baritone and director.
Our annual Art From Ashes program, marking the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, features works by musical talents whose very existence the Nazis hoped to erase from history: Gideon Klein, Pavel Haas, Dick Kattenburg, James Simon, Viktor Ullmann, Carlo Taube, Ilse Weber, as well as two amazing but rarely-performed tangos from Auschwitz and Buchenwald.
The program Injustice showcases Aleppo, a recent work by Portuguese composer Luis Tinoco inspired by the resilience of that city’s besieged inhabitants. We’ll also perform Three Dream Portraits, Black composer Margaret Bonds’ setting of moving poems by Langston Hughes; Kurt Weill songs of biting anti-Nazi satire and anti-apartheid protest; and intimate chamber works by Hans Krása and Erwin Schulhoff.
Why our music matters
Music of Remembrance recalls and honors those whose lives were touched by the Holocaust, but we also do much more. We don’t merely look back at history but examine its meaning for today. We’ll use our 24th season to listen to the voices of the ghettos and camps, voices of child boat refugees, Black voices, voices of the victims of war, voices of the victims of injustice. We’ll continue to weave indelible history together with the human challenges that face us today. MOR performs music that matters in today’s world.
Our mission calls on us to build bridges across generations. In the coming season you’ll meet this year’s two gifted recipients of our David Tonkonogui Award for Young Musicians: cellist Leyna Kitahama and violinist Tokuji Miyasaka, both 13 years old. We feel blessed by the opportunity to nurture the development of young artists seeking to make a difference in the world with their music.
Join us in the concert hall or from the comfort of your home. It means so much to have you continue this journey with us. We welcome you back to Music of Remembrance.
And please know how deeply grateful we are for your friendship and support.