April 19, 2007
Holocaust Remembrance Gets a Hearing or Two
By Cantor David F. Tilman, Jewish Exponent Feature
The theme of this year's annual Holocaust ceremony -- "The Urgency of
Holocaust Remembrance in the Madness of Our Age" - is reflected in
speeches, historical reminiscences, photographic and film exhibitions,
artifact displays and musical events, all gripping reminders of the greatest
horror to befall the Jewish people in our history.
Two important concerts of Holocaust music express such intense urgency. This coming Friday night, April 20, Cantor Mark Elson of Congregation Shir Ami will share his pulpit with Jason Calloway - 28-year-old cellist, Shir Ami
Bar Mitzvah boy and a graduate of Council Rock High School, the Juilliard
School and the University of Southern California. Calloway has assembled
three musicians - pianist, violinist and violist - to perform a 60-minute
program of "Entartete Musik," compositions by Jewish composers whose work
was derided by the Nazis as "degenerate art."
Several of these musicians escaped Germany before the full force of the
Holocaust, settling in Hollywood as film musicians in the golden age of the
American cinema of the 1940s and '50s.
Composers Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Franz Waxman wrote both chamber pieces
and works for large forces in Germany prior to beginning their second
careers in California. Others perished in concentration camps, but left
behind original manuscripts.
Pittsburgh-based pianist Nancy Rubenstein sparked Calloway's interest in
this repertoire. He then founded Music Reborn, an organization dedicated to
researching and presenting works by Holocaust composers. Calloway, who
considers himself "fortunate to have known Holocaust survivors over the
years," says that his life was transformed by his association with David
Arben, former associate concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, whose
violin virtuosity saved his own life in a Nazi concentration camp.
Calloway is on a mission to be an advocate for this repertoire: "To play
only the standard repertoire is self-indulgent," he declared, adding that
this music allows him to create and perpetuate an aspect of Jewish history
and culture of great importance.