The Eastman School of Music will present the Holocaust Remembrance Concert “A Time to Remember” this Sunday, May 5 at 7:30 p.m. at Kilbourn Hall in Rochester.
The program is free and open to the public.
The program’s founder, Eastman School of Music Professor Renee Jolles, discussed the performance and the inspiration behind the music Tuesday during News 8 at Sunrise.
“This is an offering to the University of Rochester and the general Rochester community,” said Jolles. “It’s a chance for us to celebrate the lives of people who were killed in the Holocaust. This particular concert is geared towards remembering those who perished in the Holocaust, but it’s also an attempt to raise awareness for bias incidents of any kind. So this concert consists of music written by people who died in the camps, who were murdered by the Nazis, and music written in tribute to those who died. It’s often based on poetry or writings of people who perished in the camps, and music that generally serves to uplift the spirit and remind us of all the wonderful potential that was lost at that time.”
To see our entire conversation,click the link below.
For Jolles, the Holocaust Remembrance Concert is personal. “This is personal for a number of reasons, actually,” she said. “Of course, perhaps number one, is that when I first came to Eastman in 2013 my father at the time was dying of pancreatic cancer. And he was a Holocaust survivor. I wasn’t looking specifically for a way to commemorate him, but just the whole idea of that generation dying out now, which they are, there are very few survivors left. You know, it started me thinking that we have to find a way to perpetuate their memory and their knowledge and their wisdom. And then also, as I came to Eastman and was looking at a way to sort of offer something to the school. I remembered that years ago when I came here to audition as a student that I felt uncomfortable a little bit as a Jewish person at the school because there was a very strong activity by, let’s say, the Christian groups on the campus welcoming me. It was very friendly. But I didn’t see anything Jewish at all. And that might be fine, except that it was so strongly in one direction, you know. And so I remember that feeling of slight discomfort. And I found myself wondering what it’s like now and if there are other people over the years that felt the same way, not only at Eastman of course but at any place in the country because Jews are still a minority – and of course for any other minority group. So this was an attempt to raise awareness and make people feel welcome.”
Despite the subject matter, Jolles said most of the music is not sad. “There are a couple of pieces, perhaps, we have one based on the poetry of children who died in Terezin or Terezinstadt, the infamous ghetto camp in Czechoslovakia at the time. And that one has a serious tone to it, but much of the music is just normal music, normal happy music written by people who then were later murdered. And I think the point is to celebrate the human spirit and to realize the incredible loss of potential, the loss of imagination as nine million people were killed at that time. That’s nine million potential sparks who could’ve changed the world. Just exterminated, right there. So it’s really to celebrate the ability of the human soul to survive and to go on, even in death. We precede each selection on the concert with readings of either poetry or words written about the human spirit or the Holocaust. I think this year’s readings will mostly feature the words of Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Laureate. And it seems to set the tone for each piece and the poetry reading goes directly into the performance of the piece.”
For more information about “A Time to Remember” visit rochester.edu/eastman/calendar.