From the Artistic Director
On January 27, 2020, Music of Remembrance will join people around the world to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. This somber milestone is a yet another occasion to recall and honor those people whose lives were touched by the Holocaust. It also compels us to do more than look back at history, and to examine its meaning for today.
MOR’s performances honor the legacy of those targeted by the Nazi regime for their beliefs, identities and ideas – not only Jews, but also political dissidents, free-thinking artists and intellectuals, homosexuals and others. As we’ve done for more than two decades, we’ll perform music created under the most horrific conditions, in the ghettos and concentration camps. We’ll give voice to those whose lives were cut short. And through new musical works we continue to address compelling struggles for human rights in our own time.
On November 3, we’ll open our concert season with two pathbreaking world premieres. The iconic Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto’s new work, simply titled Passage, focuses on the plight of a refugee seeking to escape violence in his home country in the Middle East. In the second premiere, Veritas, the music of Japanese American composer Shinji Eshima and the striking visual imagery of sculptor Al Farrow combine to make a powerful statement about the frightful consequences of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and religious intolerance in general.
We also feature Paul Schoenfield’s searing Camp Songs, an MOR commission and 2002 Pulitzer Finalist. In a new dramatic production directed by Erich Parce, we’ll experience the grim humor, sardonic words and melodies that the Polish dissident journalist Aleksander Kulisiewicz dared to create while a prisoner in Sachsenhausen. And following the concert, we’ll gather for MOR’s Annual Gala evening.
Marking a Milestone
At Benaroya Hall on January 27, 2020 we’ll present a free community-wide concert to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day exactly 75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz. Wanting to make this moment in history meaningful to young people, we have invited the Northwest Boychoir, the Seattle Girls Choir and the University of Washington Chamber Orchestra to join our Music of Remembrance artists in a program of music by composers whose lives were cut short by Nazi persecution.
Against All Odds
In a special concert on March 1, 2020, we’ll have the honor of bringing and performing on the actual instruments of Violins of Hope. These string instruments all belonged to Jews who played them before and during the Holocaust and have been lovingly restored by Israeli violin makers Amnon and Avshalom Weinstein. As a result of the Weinstein’s efforts, these precious instruments can now be heard again even though their former owners were silenced. Our own stellar ensemble will perform a program of music by composers lost to the Holocaust: David Beigelman, Gideon Klein, Hans Krása, and Erwin Schulhoff. These musical treasures remain as a testament to courage and resilience across the generations.
A Heggie/Scheer Double Bill!
Our spring concert on May 17, 2020 at Benaroya Hall, repeated two days later at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on May 19, is a rare double bill of works by the incomparable team of composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer.
We’ll unveil the Washington premiere of their newest creation, Intonations: Songs from the Violins of Hope, inspired by those same instruments. The compelling work consists of six songs sharing the stories of those Holocaust instruments and imagining how their owners would tell their own stories. For a Look or a Touch, MOR’s earliest commission from Heggie and Scheer, was the first major musical work ever to explore the Nazi persecution of homosexuals. Since our premiere in 2007 it has traveled around the world, and we’re bringing it back in an expanded version. The musical drama is based on the true story of two idealistic young gay men in Berlin whose lives and love were torn apart under Nazi rule. Our production, directed by Erich Parce, features rising star baritone Jarrett Ott as Manfred Lewin, and acclaimed actor Curt Branom (a long-time fixture of San Francisco’s Beach Blanket Babylon) as Gad Beck. The program bears witness to the power of love, courage and memory.
In this, our third decade of musical witness, we continue to weave indelible history together with the human challenges that face us today. The issues are timeless. The time is now. MOR performs music that matters. It would mean so much to have you continue this journey with us.
Mina Miller, Artistic Director