Music in Desperate Times: Remembering the Women's Orchestra of Birkenau is a commemoration, in words and music, of the women who saved their lives by playing in an orchestra in the Birkenau concentration camp. Music in Desperate Times was first performed in 2006; these will be the first full performances since Ars Choralis's 2009 performances at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and in Berlin, Germany. The 45 member chorus will be joined by three narrators and an orchestra representative of the original, which was distinguished by its inclusion of mandolins, accordions, recorders and guitars while lacking most brass and woodwind instruments altogether.
The orchestra will perform music the original ensemble was forced to play for its Nazi captors: an excerpt from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, "Träumerei” from Robert Schumann's Scenes from Childhood, Chopin's Étude No. 3 in E Major, The Beautiful Blue Danube by Strauss, an excerpt from Mendelssohn's Concerto for Violin (Elizabeth Silver, soloist) and “Un bel di vedremo” from Puccini's Madame Butterfly (Lily Arbisser, soloist). Victoria Langling, Cecelia Keehn and Lily Arbisser will read from books and memoirs of Birkenau orchestra conductor Alma Rosé, cellist Anita Lasker-Wallfisch and music arranger Fania Fenelon. Choral music interspersed throughout the performance illuminates the readings.
Tickets for the concert will be available by April 1 at the following outlets: Golden Notebook and Catskill Art and Office Supply in Woodstock; DIG in Saugerties; and Mother Earth’s Storehouse in Kingston. Tickets will also be available from Ars Choralis members. Adult tickets are $18 prepaid and $20 at the door. Tickets for students 18 and under are half price. Online ticket sales will be available on April 1.
For information about previous Ars Choralis concerts, see Past Concerts.