Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ars Choralis at St. John the Devine, Sat. March 28

Auschwitz Birkenau - inside a women's barrackImage by .m for matthijs via Flickr

From Marjorie Regan:

Our congratulations and best wishes to Woodstock's Ars Choralis and conductor/composer Barbara Pickhardt. They have been invited to perform Pickhardt's Music in Desperate Times: Remembering the Women's Orchestra of Birkenau at St. John the Devine, and then at Liberation Day Ceremonies with the Survivors of the Ravensbruck concentration camp in Berlin in April.

Ars Choralis:About Music In Deserate Times Concert: "In the darkest times, music provides solace and illustrates what is best in the human spirit.

During the depths of World War II, women musicians incarcerated at the Auschwitz/Birkenau concentration camp were required to play for their Nazi captors. This is a story about how music saved the lives of those women. It is also the story of a small-town chorus that has brought back the music, hope, grief and resilience of these women.

Over one million people were murdered in Birkenau gas chambers. In exchange for their survival, a women’s orchestra was formed by the S.S. at Birchenau. During the year and a half it existed, 54 women participated in the orchestra. All but the conductor survived.

Two years ago, Barbara Pickhardt, conductor of the Woodstock, NY chorus, Ars Choralis, researched survivor’s memoirs and created Music in Desperate Times: Remembering the Women’s Orchestra of Birkenau. The concert interwove orchestral music (Schumann, Chopin, Puccini, Mendelssohn and others) with spoken memoirs and songs of hope, peace and resistance sung by the chorus. Donning the simple lavender scarves and white blouses worn by the Birkenau musicians, the members of the reconstructed orchestra felt a shiver of connection to the original orchestra as they played arrangements of the same music played in the camps."

You can find information about tickets and bus transportation to the March 28th concert at the Cathedral here.

There's a Woodstock Times review of the 2007 concert here.
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