Fall is here, and the school year is in full swing. The WWU Symphony Orchestra is gearing up for its first concert of music by Sarah Kirkland Snider, Claude Debussy, and Gustav Mahler on November 15, 2019, and everyone is excited for our travels abroad next June.
An Exciting and Impactful Development
One of the items on our tour itinerary is a visit to Terezín, a concentration camp outside Prague that was used as a sort of "model" to show the Red Cross how well imprisoned Jews were being treated. In reality, of course, it was just a Potemkin village and a waystation on the route to Auschwitz and other extermination camps. Many prominent artists and musicians were held there, and the Terezín had a remarkably thriving cultural life. Months ago, in preparing for the tour, I was looking for a piece by a Terezín composer to perform at our concerts in Prague and Vienna, and came upon the work of Gideon Klein, a brilliant Jewish Czech musician who spent three years at the camp before being murdered in 1944 at the age of 25 (this coming December, he would have turned 100). He wrote no known music for orchestra, but composed a Piano Sonata at Terezín that is utterly captivating and rich with orchestral gestures. As a shot in the dark, I reached out to the Gideon Klein Foundation in Prague asking their permission to arrange the piece for orchestra and perform it on the tour. After months of silence, they finally responded on Friday, giving their blessing for this project! What this means is that the WWU Symphony will be giving the world premiere of a work by a major composer who perished in the Holocaust. Also, according to our current itinerary, the students will be visiting Terezín the very day before they give the first performance of Klein’s "Chamber Symphony" in Prague, his hometown. This is the opportunity of a lifetime in two ways:
- Western is in a position to make a significant contribution to the discourse on music from the Holocaust.
- Our students will have the chance to not only present this important new work, but to visit the very place where he wrote it.
I couldn't be more excited about this development, as it gives this tour an entirely new level of purpose in addition to the already wonderful opportunity for our students to perform together. If anyone you know values this work as much as we do, please share this news with them and encourage them to lend their support!
Halloween Bash on October 26
The WWU Symphony is hosting a fundraising Halloween party and silent auction on October 26, 2019 from 7-10PM at the Bellingham Yacht Club. Please come join us for a hosted bar, costume contest, dessert dash, great auction items, and more! For more information and to reserve seats, please visit our registration site here: https://commerce.cashnet.com/MU12
Thank you for all your support!