Camden charity’s research into music of the Holocaust launched with concert

Clive Marks, left, with Shirli Gilbert Picture: ORT

Clive Marks, left, with Shirli Gilbert Picture: ORT - Credit: Archant

A Camden charity has launched a programme to increase research into the music of the Holocaust – with a sell-out concert.

Cellist Gemma Rosefield Picture: ORT

Cellist Gemma Rosefield Picture: ORT - Credit: Archant

Music written inside concentration camps, ghettoes and during Nazi rule was performed as World ORT – a global Jewish charity based in Albert Street – announced a £100,000 fund to sponsor 20 postgraduate students’ work on the sounds of the Shoah.

Philanthropist Clive Marks OBE, for whom the ORT Marks Fellowship Programme is named, said young scholars are the best placed to become “enthusiastic ambassadors” and to “carry forward” learning about the era.

The performance – titled “Music on the Brink of Destruction” – was held at Wigmore Hall on January 4, with the work of Dovid Ayznshtat, Hans Krása and Gideon Klein featuring.

Most of the music played was written by composers who died during the war.


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Finchley-based organiser Dr Shirli Gilbert said it was important to continue recovering the “musical world” of the time.

She said the next job was “bringing it to wide audiences – at our commemoration ceremonies, in our choirs, in our classrooms – as a way of giving voice to the victims, and allowing these documents from the time to stand as monuments to the lives that were destroyed.”

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She added: “What might the world of twentieth century composition have looked like, were it not for the violent destruction of an entire generation of promising young composers?”

The attraction of the concert was so strong for Childs Hill-cellist Gemma Rosefield that she agreed to play in it as well help organise it.

She said: “This subject is very close to my heart. I had family in Poland during the war and music is my passion.

“But this music stands on its own merits regardless of the dire circumstances in which it was written and originally performed; it is great music in its own right.”

The work of the students is expected to expand understanding of music in the Holocaust but will also benefit ORT’s Music and the Holocaust resource website.

Launched in 2008, it compiles music and information about the era, and boasts a larger collection than the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem.

Individual performances from the concert will be broadcast by BBC Radio 3 in the week leading up to Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27.

The station’s Sunday Feature for Holocaust Memorial Day, which Dr Gilbert will present on 22 January, will also include music from the concert.

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