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Remembrance: 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht


Concert Of Remembrance - 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – Santayana

On Sunday November 9, Vector Wellington Orchestra (VWO) is presenting a concert of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust. It is part of a world-wide programme of commemorative events.

The date marks seventy years since Kristallnacht, the night that signaled the Nazis’ emergence as a force of terror and oppression that would convulse the world.

The VWO will play Brahms’ German Requiem and Israeli composer Boris Pigovat’s Holocaust Requiem.

The soloist for Pigovat’s Requiem is Donald Maurice, who was instrumental in bringing the work to Wellington.

Maurice says he had never heard of the composer when he received an email inviting him to perform the work. “I get a fair bit of this sort of ‘soliciting’ so didn't at first get too excited,” Maurice says. “However after putting on the CD I was within 30 seconds completely absorbed by the music and listened straight through the entire 45 minutes, feeling quite drained by the end.

“It still sends shivers down my spine in certain sections when I practise it and I can't help thinking about the horror being depicted. Then there are other moments of such serenity that the tears well up for the sheer beauty of the music.”

Pigovat’s grandparents and aunt were killed by Nazis in a massacre at Babiy Yar, in Ukraine, in 1941, so the Requiem expresses very personal feelings for him.

The work won the Israeli Prime Minister’s Award and Israeli Composer’s Prize. It uses the viola as soloist in a four-movement work based on the Catholic Mass for the Dead, with the addition of a prayer recited four times a year according to the Judaic tradition.

Brahms’ German Requiem will feature the Orpheus Choir and soloists Jenny Wollerman and Jared Holt. Written as a memorial to his mother, Brahms’ Requiem seeks to comfort the living as much as mourn the dead.

At the opening of Wellington’s Holocaust Centre last year, the Governor-General, Anand Satyanand said that remembering the atrocities of the Holocaust was vital to ensuring such horrors were not repeated.

For the Jews of Germany and Austria, Kristallnacht changed the world forever, not unlike our more recent “9/11” attacks. On that “night of broken glass”, hundreds of synagogues and shops were burned and thousands of Jews were arrested and deported.

It is ironic that in recent times the bloodiest oppressors have produced so few enduring works of art, while the victims they sought to silence are given voice through the ages with works like Pigovat’s Requiem.

Proceeds from the performance will be donated to the Wellington Holocaust Centre.

Sunday 9 November, Michael Fowler Centre 7.30pm

BRAHMS A German Requiem
BORIS PIGOVAT The Holocaust Requiem

Marc Taddei – Conductor
Donald Maurice – Viola
Jenny Wollerman – Soprano
Jared Holt – Baritone

Orpheus Choir – Michael Fulcher, Music Director



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