Monday, April 28, 7:30 p.m. § Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
This dramatic cantata, based on 22 songs sung in ghettoes and concentration camps during World War II, was composed by Sheridan Seyfried who will be in Sarasota for the concert. This multimedia event features original choreography created for this production and a wealth of participants, including the Gloria Musicae Singers, Sarasota Young Voices, Sarasota Jewish Chorale, Booker High School Concert Choir, Sarasota Choral Society, the Chroma Quartet and the Sarasota-Manatee Dance Alliance. Charlayne Hunter-Gault, civil rights activist and award-winning author and journalist, will offer opening remarks for the program.
(Sarasota, FL) On April 28, 2014, the 2014 International Day of Holocaust Remembrance, Gloria Musicae will present the Florida premiere performance of “Voices of the Holocaust,” a dramatic cantata based on 22 songs sung in ghettoes and concentration camps during World War II, composed by Sheridan Seyfried. The Gloria Musicae Singers will be joined by the Sarasota-Manatee Dance Alliance (SMDA), the Chroma Quartet, the Sarasota Young Voices, Sarasota Jewish Chorale, Booker High School Concert Choir, and the Sarasota Choral Society. This multimedia event, under the direction of Dr. Joseph Holt, Gloria Musicae’s artistic director, will feature original chorography by Elizabeth Weil Bergmann, retired Harvard director of dance. Charlayne Hunter-Gault, civil rights activist and award-winning author, journalist and correspondent for such media outlets as the New York Times, PBS, NPR and CNN, will offer opening remarks for the program. The event is sponsored, in part, by Mr. Clair E. Johnson, the Tourist Development Commission of Sarasota County, and The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee. The concert is Monday, April 28, 7:30 p.m., at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets are $25-$70. For tickets, call the Van Wezel box office at 941-953-3368 or visit www.gloriamusicae.org.
Dramatic and poignant, “Voices of the Holocaust” celebrates the proud defiance of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Singers and dancers join together in this musical piece that underscores the tenet that any injustice towards a single human being is an injustice against us all. The challenge for human beings to choose civility while rejecting prejudice and discrimination has been, and continues to be, a significant issue for society. According to the composer, Sheridan Seyfried, the heartfelt goal is giving voice to the millions rendered voiceless. “When we gather as a community to hear these songs, we provide the Holocaust victims what they were so tragically denied at the time: the full attention of the outside world,” he says.
Joseph Holt says that the audience will be given insight to life experienced by Jewish families forced into ghettoes and concentration camps during World War II. “Through music, multimedia, and dance, the audience will be enriched by an understanding of how the arts played an important role in helping families cope with the horrific conditions imposed during their imprisonment,” says Holt. “Social issues facing us as a society today include hate, intolerance, discrimination, and bullying — issues that Jewish society has dealt with through the centuries. It is Gloria Musicae’s hope that audience members will re-examine their own lives and reflect upon choosing civility in daily interactions with those of different values, opinions, and racial and ethnic backgrounds.”
According to Holt, extensive research was undertaken to select the most poignant visual representation of life during the time of the Holocaust, including input from The Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, The Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, and The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee’s education department. “We’re also actively seeking ways to invite area students and teachers to attend the performance and will be providing a study guide to area schools that looks at issues of intolerance, racial hatred, and bullying,” says Holt.
Dance is a vital part of the program. When Gloria Musicae invited the Sarasota-Manatee Dance Alliance to collaborate on “Voices of the Holocaust,” the SMDA tapped Elizabeth Weil Bergmann, retired Harvard director of dance, to create original dances for the cantata, which has never before been choreographed.
“The dancers wish to honor the memory of the composers of these songs by bringing this music even further alive, and into today’s world, through movement,” says Weil Bergmann. “The music is a piece of intense beauty and varied mood—from sorrowful to joyful—that celebrates the triumph of the human spirit over unthinkable adversity, and the dance is able to dramatize and embody these qualities. The immediacy of the choreography will also remind the audience that our world still suffers from the social ills that can lead to genocide: intolerance, racial hatred, and bullying.”
For more information about Gloria Musicae, call 941-360-7399 or visit www.gloriamusicae.org.
About “Voices of the Holocaust”
Sheridan Seyfried’s “Voices of the Holocaust” is an arrangement of music written during the Holocaust in the ghettos and concentration camps between 1939 and 1945. It comprises 22 songs structured as a dramatic cantata in five parts. The work was commissioned by Philip Klein and the State College Choral Society (SCCS) in State College, PA, and was premiered by SCCS in 2004. The songs take many forms, including new lyrics composed to existing folk tunes, original lyrics with original melodies, partisan songs set to rousing military tunes and, in one case, a musical setting of text from the 12th-century, “13 Articles of Faith.” A few of the lyricists and composers remain unknown. One composer, Alexander Tamir, who was 11 when he composed the music to “Quiet, Quiet,” survived the war and is living in Israel where he teaches music. “Voices of the Holocaust” is divided into five sections, grouping the songs thematically: 1) music responding to pogroms; 2) music responding to ghetto life; 3) music of faith of hope; 4) music describing the plight of children in the Holocaust; and 5) music of the resistance (partisan) movement. Songs are mostly heard in English translation, though a few are presented in the original Yiddish. The work ends with the famous partisan anthem, “Zog Nit Keyn Mol” (“Never Say This Is the Final Road for You”), a song known to survivors who stand whenever it is sung.
About Sheridan Seyfried
Sheridan Seyfried (b. 1984) is a native of Philadelphia, PA, where he lives with his wife Ya-Jhu Yang. Seyfried studied composition at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Manhattan School of Music. His music has been performed by many artists, including clarinetist David Shifrin; violinists Ray Chen, Ida and Ani Kavafian, and Shunske Sato; violists Hungwei Huang and Steve Tenenbom; cellists Peter Wiley and Jonah Kim; and pianist Anne-Marie McDermott. Seyfried’s 2001 string quartet, “Pro and Contra,” received an ASCAP award. In 2004, he arranged for choir and strings for a concert-length cantata of folk music from the Holocaust entitled “Voices of the Holocaust.” His 2013 “Violin Concerto,” written for Dennis Kim, was premiered by the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra (Finland) under the direction of Benjamin Shwartz. Seyfried is currently the organist and choir director at Grace Lutheran Church in Wyndmoor, PA. He teaches music at Kohelet Yeshiva High School in Merion, PA, and music theory at the Mannes College of Music in New York City.
About the Gloria Musicae Singers
The Gloria Musicae Singers is a professional vocal ensemble that celebrates choral music through innovative performances. The critically acclaimed group, under the artistic direction of Dr. Joseph Holt, performs a repertoire spanning four centuries, and includes orchestral works, intimate madrigals, church motets, folk songs, close-harmony jazz, and Broadway show music. The ensemble also specializes in premiere performances of lesser-known choral works, particularly music by living American composers. The Gloria Musicae Singers has performed premieres by René Clausen, Dick Hyman, Robert Levin, Gwyneth Walker, and James Grant, along with the premiere of a new edition of a rarely heard score by Rossini. For more information about Gloria Musicae, visit www.gloriamusicae.org.