The sixth Music of Remembrance concert, on April 23 at Benaroya Hall, will use movement and dance to help the audience transcend time and emotion when thinking about the Holocaust and loss.
“I hope it will be a moving experience for the audience,” said Artistic Director Mina Miller of the concert in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day. “The music of very varied and extremely accessible on many levels — from an operatic score to an electronic piece.”
The featured work comes in the second half of the concert, when Music of Remembrance presents “Different Trains” by Steve Reich. This Holocaust remembrance work composed in 1988 is scored for string quartet and pre-recorded performance tape. Violinists Mikhail Shmidt and Jeannie Wells Yablonsky, violist Susan Gulkis, and cellist David Tonkonogui will perform the live part of the piece. Composer Steve Reich will be the sound engineer, balancing and blending the sounds of the live string quartet with the pre-recorded tape. He will also introduce the performance.
“It’s a monumental work. It’s also extraordinarily difficult,” Miller said, explaining the necessity of having Reich as sound engineer. Reich has been a member of the Music of Remembrance advisory board since the organization’s inception. Miller said he is a committed Jew and his Jewish identity is an important component in his creative work. The impetus for “Different Trains” can be traced back to Reich’s youth. As a young child, he traveled by train regularly from 1939 to 1942 between New York and Los Angeles. His governess accompanied him on trips between his divorced parents, who had joint custody.
“As a child, he felt those trips were very exciting. As an adult, he realized that if he had been riding trains in Europe at the same time, he would have been riding in very different trains,” Miller said.
For “Different Trains,” Reich put together the melody of speech with actual speech and recorded sounds of trains. “He takes everyday speech sounds and gives them a musical life,” Miller explained. The first movement is America before the war, with hurried pulses. The second movement is Europe in conflict, with sirens and archival train sounds. The third movement is after the way, first slow and then quickening back to the normal pace of life. The voices in the tape include interviews with his governess, a retired Pullman porter and the testimony of three Holocaust survivors, who are about the same age as Reich.
Miller said the first half of the concert will be unusual in its own right. First is “Dance” by Hans Krasa. Composed in 1943 in the Terezin concentration camp, this short piece with pulsating rhythms is very accessible. It will be performed by violinist Shmidt, cellist Tononogui and violist Gulkis.
Next is another accessible piece by Ernest Bloch. Miller described “Suite Modale” as a neo-baroque suite, scored for flute and piano in 1956. It will be performed by flutist Jody Schwarz and pianist Miller.
The first half reaches an unusual note with songs of political satire, which were composed during the war. These songs, composed in America and Germany as a form of political protest during the Holocaust, will be performed by Julie Mirel. “I think it’s going to be quite powerful to our audience. Satire just strikes a cord in a special way,” Miller said.
The first half of the concert ends with “Carmen Fantasie” by German refugee Franz Waxman. Waxman, who emigrated to Los Angeles, was best known for his film scores, but was also a composer of concert pieces. “Carmen Fantasie” will be performed by violinist Leonid Keylin and pianist Miller.
Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. April 23 concert in the Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya Hall are $18, or $12 for students and seniors. For more information, call 206-365-7770 or e-mail email@example.com. Miller said the last few Music of Remembrance concerts have sold out, so tickets are seldom available at the door on the evening of the concert.