On April 18, in commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony (LAJS) presented a powerful and inspiring concert program in The Soraya’s Great Hall entitled “Triumph of the Spirit: Holocaust Stories Through Music.” Performances of the one-hour program, which was organized in collaboration with The Soraya’s Arts Education Program of Matinees and Master Classes, were given at 10:00 am and 12:00 to a rapt audience of more than 2,000 elementary and high-school students. The LAJS’s Conductor and Artistic Director, Dr. Noreen Green, introduced each piece from the podium in her own words as well as those of the composers themselves, through archival interview clips with Shony Braun, Herbert Zipper and Vladislaw Szpilman. The students listened intently to every word and note, erupting into tumultuous applause in all the appropriate places.
The program began with a poignant candle-lighting ceremony and moment of silence as Dinah Braun, daughter of composer Shony Braun, lit six candles, each one commemorating one million of the six million Jews who perished in the Shoah. Mark Kashper, Founding Concertmaster of the LAJS, was the virtuosic soloist in Braun’s Symphony of the Holocaust. The orchestra was then joined by the LAJS Men’s Choir for a powerful performance of Lucas Richman’s Dachaulied, an arrangement based on Zipper’s inspired, ironic use of the infamous Nazi slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei” in a resistance song that passed from camp to camp. The program concluded with a brilliant performance of Szpilman’s surprisingly jazzy, upbeat Piano Concertino. The students were especially impressed by the stunning technical prowess and soulful, expressive playing of piano soloist Samuel Glichlich, a Colburn music student only a few years older than themselves.
The Soraya produced a comprehensive Study Guide to complement this program, focusing on the power of music as a tool for survival, resilience and resistance. This important background, plus the impact of hearing this music of played by excellent musicians in a magnificent concert hall, is an educational and emotional experience that these students will cherish forever.
Watch Soraya Education Director – Dr. Anthony Cantrell’s powerful statement to the students about the need for this kind of concert to remember and never forget. We are proud to be partners with the Soraya!
Note from a Patron
When I received the invitation to the “Triumph of the Spirit” concert at the Soraya, I wasn’t sure I wanted to attend. As a child survivor of the Holocaust, I dread the annual commemoration of Yom HaShoah. I fear more fodder for nightmares.
Yet this memorial concert was not only triumphant, but informative and inspirational. The audience of school students sat spellbound, listening to the stories and music of three extraordinary composers whose talent, skill, and extraordinary bravery led to their unlikely survival in the brutal Nazi death camps. As I left the concert, I overheard some of the students discussing their own experiences with discrimination and racism. I was overcome with gratitude toward my friend Dr. Noreen Green for using her musical talents and skills to teach youngsters about the Holocaust, and the dangers of prejudice and hatred which can lead to dehumanization and murder.
In retrospect, I’m very glad I came to the concert. My soul quieted, I look forward to fewer nightmares, and sweeter dreams.
Julie G. Madorsky MD
Click the link below to learn more about the program.