Cordancia will perform music written by composers who were interned at Terezin Concentration at 3 p.m. on May 11 and 12 at the Lutheran Church of the Incarnate Word, 597 East Ave., Rochester.
The performance is free, but donations are encouraged.
These performances feature chamber music written by composers who were interned at Terezin Concentration Camp in Czechoslovakia, including Pavel Haas, Hans Krása, Ilse Weber, Viktor Ullman and Gideon Klein. Terezin served as a propaganda tool for the Nazis, who actually showcased some of the music and art and other cultural activities at Terezin as a way to defend their treatment of Jewish prisoners. In the end, these composers were taken to Auschwitz and killed.
The focal point of the performances will be instrumental music by Hans Krása from the children’s opera Brundibar, written 1938 for a children’s opera competition in Czechoslovakia, in which singing children aided by a fearless sparrow, a keen cat and a wise dog triumph over the evil organ grinder. Although Krása composed the opera before Czechoslovakian Jews were in imminent danger from the Nazis, the plot could easily be interpreted as the good and innocent driving out Hitler. As it was sung in Czech, the Nazi guards at Terezin did not understand the words or the message, and they allowed it to be performed weekly at Terezin.
Ilse Weber worked as a nurse in the children’s infirmary in Terezin. A Czech author and songwriter, her poetry and music would have been lost without her husband’s efforts. He buried her work in the ground underneath a shed in Terezin — his job as a gardener gave him access — and returned after the war to retrieve them. Weber’s “Wiegala” (Lullaby) will also be performed.
“I Never Saw Another Butterfly” is a collection of poems and artwork by the children of Terezin. Living composer Lori Laitman composed a song cycle based on six poems from the collection, some of which are included on the program.
Cordancia’s full chamber orchestra consists of as many as 40 musicians; however, these concerts feature smaller chamber ensembles of two, three, four and five, with 10 performers on Brundibar, conducted by Evan Meccarello.
There will be a pre-concert chat before each concert at 2:30 p.m. by Beneta Silberstern, widow of Henry Silberstern, who was interned at Terezin, arranged by the Center for Holocaust Awareness and Information.