Recorded November 5, 2017 at Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall, Benaroya Hall, Seattle
Sparks of Glory (1995): Movement 1: In Your Blood, Live!
Paul Schoenfield (b. Detroit, 1947)
Robert Orth, narrator; Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Laura DeLuca, clarinet;
Walter Gray, cello; Jessica Choe, piano
Paul Schoenfield offers the following remarks:
Sparks of Glory, scored for violin, clarinet, cello, piano and narrator, was written in 1995 for the Sea Cliff Chamber Players. It was commissioned by the Tilles family, who had specifically requested a work with narrator commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. I could think of nothing more fitting than the accounts written by Polish-Israeli journalist Moshe Prager, who wrote for the Warsaw daily, Das Yiddishe Tageblatt.
When Nazi Germany invaded Poland, Prager became a secret worker for the Joint Distribution Committee, and helped convince its officials to carry on relief and rescue activities. With the help of his friend Stephan Porayski, director of the Warsaw office of an Italian shipping firm, Prager was able to smuggle himself and Gerrer Rebbe, Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Alter, to British-controlled Palestine. It was there in 1952 that Prager published his first collection of stories, Mitzotzei Gevurah—Sparks of Glory. In its introduction, the author writes:
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 Schoenfieldwishes to thank lyricist Frank Oteri for his help in condensing these stories and making them suitable for a concert presentation.