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April 17, 2007
Bucks County Courier Times (Levittown, PA)

"Lost Music of the Holocaust' discovered

Cellist Jason Calloway will perform Friday in Newtown Township and, starting next season he will divide his time between New York and Philadelphia.

BY KATHRYN M. D'IMPERIO

Each year, Shir Ami Synagogue hosts an annual Anna Gever Shabbat, and this year is no different, except that cellist Jason Calloway will perform his own "Lost Music of the Holocaust" this time around.

Calloway, 28, is cellist for the Biava Quartet (named for Philadelphia's own Luis Biava). Starting next season, he will divide his time between New York and Philadelphia. Following some inspiration and an enduring hope to create such a performance, Calloway went to great lengths to find and revive music composed by artists persecuted during the Holocaust.

"The idea to give a concert like this is one which has been brewing in my mind for quite sometime," Calloway said. "I remember first hearing something of this music many years ago, and the first inspiration for doing something about it was the personal story of a famous Philadelphia musician who has long been a sort of mentor to me. David Arben, retired longtime associate concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, is a Holocaust survivor himself whose violin literally saved his life."

Calloway explained that, as a child, Arben watched his family perish in the concentration camps and was saved thanks to his musical talents. Nazi guards took a liking to Arben's music and wanted the young violinist to entertain them. On several occasions, Nazi guards recognized him as the little musician and pulled him away from the firing squads.

"By his own industry, he was able to find his way to Salzburg and its famous Mozarteum after the war, where he played in a master class for violinist and then director of the Curtis Institute of Music, Efrem Zimbalist, who arranged for him to study here in Philadelphia," Calloway said. "The rest, as they say, is history. A story like this one certainly moved someone of my age and experience, not having any relatives who are survivors, to act."

Calloway extends much credit for the culmination of his project to a fortuitous meeting with pianist Nancy Rubenstein, who shares an immense interest in exactly this subject. She introduced Calloway to a large and ever-growing collection of scores and recordings of the music by composers whose lives or careers ended during the Holocaust. Since meeting, the two musicians have performed in concerts together in Pittsburgh under Rubenstein's organization, "Music Reborn."

"As there are quite literally tens of thousands of composers and musicians who perished during the Holocaust, I won't live long enough to shed light on all of them," said Calloway. "But as a result of the Internet, I have access to a wealth of information, as well as the assistance of people like Ms. Rubenstein and others who have pointed me in the direction of hard-to-find performance materials, such as Bret Werb of the National Holocaust Museum and David Hetherington of Toronto's Artists of the Royal Conservatory."

Other artists hailing from the Big Apple will accompany Calloway during the performance of this special music at Shir Ami, which is the beginning of a national tour.

Native to Philadelphia, Calloway, a world class cellist, recently graduated from the Juilliard School and the University of Southern California. His performances span North America from coast to coast, with participation also in the Caribbean, Europe and the Middle East. When he is not occupied with his musical endeavors, Calloway enjoys traveling, writing, reading poetry and literature (especially French and Spanish) and spending time outside, walking, running or riding a bike.

Jason Calloway is the son of Claudia Calloway, a music instructor at Hillcrest Elementary School in Holland. His father is an executive with Reading Commercial Carpets. His younger sister, Rachel, is a rising mezzo-soprano and also a graduate of the Juilliard School.

"I am thrilled about this performance in Newtown Township," Calloway said."It is but the first of what we [my colleagues and I] expect will be a great many concerts all over the country and, hopefully the world, and after having invested so much energy in the project, I am delighted to finally be able to bring it to our community.

"While I enjoy immensely what I do for a living, the fact remains that it is, in its way, somewhat self-serving and indulgent. But a project like this one gives me the opportunity to set out on a path to find something of true value, to be able to help preserve in a living way the legacy of so many people and their art, which languishes otherwise and might continue to do so indefinitely, and to be able to make a genuine contribution to society which will outlive my humble place within it."

The Entartete Music "Lost Music of the Holocaust" performance takes place at 7:30 during Friday evening Shabbat services at Shir Ami synagogue.

The performance includes chamber music from Jewish composers who were persecuted during the Holocaust. Admission is free.

Sponsors for this event include the Anna Gever Music Fund, the Holocaust Education Fund, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and gene! rous families in the Shir Ami congregation. Additionally, Calloway and his colleagues are grateful for the generous assistance of Cunningham Piano Company, which has agreed to donate the grand piano for the event.

Kathryn M. D'Imperio, a freelance writer, can be reached atdanceswithwords@epix.net.

 FYI

Shir Ami Synagogue is at 101 Richboro Road in Newtown Township. For more information, call 215-968-3400 or visit on the Web at www.shiraminow.org.

Copyright 2007 Bucks County Courier Times


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