From July 27 through August 2, our series of weekly streamed programs
continues with Paul Schoenfield’s Sparks of Glory
Sparks of Glory by American composer Paul Schoenfield is a tribute to courageous Holocaust defiance, based on four true stories and their accounts of the heroic deeds of people too modest to recognize their own heroism.
These accounts were recorded by Polish-Israeli journalist Moshe Prager. Before the war Prager wrote for the Warsaw daily Das Yiddishe Tageblatt, and after the Nazi invasion he became a se-cret worker for the Joint Distribution Committee, helping convince its officials to carry on relief and rescue activities. After the war he devoted his life to probing into the abyss, with a conviction that the stories of those who refused to yield were seeds of his people’s physical and spiritual revival. In 1952 Prager published his first collection of those accounts: Mitzotzei Gevurah—Sparks of Glory. In it he wrote:
Amid the black clouds which billow out of the Holocaust of European Jewry, there are many flying sparks and flashes of human elevation, precious gems of Jewish courage are strewn about, hidden from sight. Who will go down and retrieve them? The words inscribed on this scroll are all witnesses. They were taken down directly from the heroes of the stories who themselves did not realize they were heroes. These are true stories. They are all factual. They are all accurately recorded. And if they appear to border on the miraculous, it is because they mirror an age of miracles. And if they make the soul tremble, it is because they are echoes of a terrible and lofty time.
Paul Schoenfield created his Sparks of Glory in 1995 to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. The work is a breathtaking tour de force that sweeps us away with the amaze-ment and awe in these stories. In our 2018 performance, MOR’s stellar instrumentalists are joined by the great late musical actor Robert Orth.
Coming next (August 3 – 9): Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Marking the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings, two works that make eloquent pleas about the urgency of preventing nuclear war: August 6th by Shinji Eshima, and Snow Falls by Ryuichi Sakamoto. Also: Sakamoto’s Passage, based on a refugee’s account of his struggle to flee violence in the Middle East.