Meanwhile, I'd like to give a shoutout to the Brundibár Arts Festival, which is to be held in Newcastle and Gateshead next week. Here's it's director, violinist Alexandra Raikhlina, of the Royal Northern Sinfonia, on what she's doing and why:
|Original watercolour posted for Brundibár's premiere in Theresienstadt|
As Artistic Director of Brundibár Arts Festival, my vision is to create an annual programme of events that showcases the little known music written during the Holocaust, to be held here in Newcastle and Gateshead.The full programme for this year includes a talk by Ela Weissberger, a Holocaust survivor who was in the first performances of Krása's Brundibár in Theresienstadt; a new documentary about Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese consul in Lithuania, who saved around 2000 of Polish Jews by providing them with transit visas; and music by, among others, Ullmann, Schulhoff, Schoenberg and Weinberg. Performers include Natalie Clein, Katya Apekisheva, Jack Liebeck and many more.
Launched in 2016, the annual Brundibár Arts Festival is the first recurring Festival in the UK dedicated to the Music and Arts of the Holocaust. The Festival takes its name from Hans Krása's children's opera "Brundibár". Brundibár, (meaning bumblebee) was written in 1938 by Jewish Czech composer Hans Krása, and first performed publicly by the children of Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1943. We see naming the Festival after Brundibár as a positive affirmation of creativity in adversity, and a lasting tribute to those children who suffered and perished.
The greatest music, art and literature has often emerged from the most threatening of circumstances, bringing comfort and expression to those in need. Once I started to research this subject, I discovered a vast wealth of relatively unknown, yet wonderful music that has struggled to get the recognition it deserves on its own merit, despite the broad range of cultural and musical activities we enjoy here in the UK. During the Festival, works by these lesser known composers will be shared and explored alongside well-loved works from the more mainstream repertoire, therefore claiming its rightful place in our concert halls.
Only through education can greater tolerance be achieved - an increasingly important subject in today's complex world. With this focus, we aim to increase the participation of young people, creating lasting links between professional musicians, local community groups, children, and artists. There are dwindling numbers of Holocaust survivors who can tell their stories first hand. Our generation carries the responsibility to find new ways of telling them, and to strive for a more comprehending and cohesive world.
I'm touched and honoured that on 31 January they also include my play A Walk through the End of Time, complete with the Messiaen Quartet for the End of Time to follow. Our actors are Joy Sanders and Phil Harrison, and the quartet will be played by Kyra Humphries (violin), Jessica Lee (clarinet), Liubov Ulybysheva (cello) and Yoshie Kawamura (piano). Venue is the Caedmon Hall of Gateshead Library. Please come along if you're around.