Based in Seattle, Music of Remembrance (MOR) is an organization with the mission of remembering the Holocaust through music with concert performances, educational programs, recordings, and commissions of new works. Two of those works have been operas that have been performed in the Bay Area, Tom Cipullo’s After Life in 2015 and Jake Heggie’s Out of Darkness in 2016. This month MOR will return, this time with a newly commissioned multimedia work by American composer Mary Kouyoumdjian. It will be performed as part of a program entitled Mirror of Memory.
The title of Kouyoumdjian’s piece is to open myself, to scream. The piece is a reflection on the story of Romani artist Ceija Stojka, who survived three concentration camps to become a noted painter and writer until her death in Vienna in 2013 at the age of 79:
Ceija Stojka at a book presentation in Vienna in 2008, photograph taken by Manfred Werner and submitted to Wikimedia Commons (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)
The score requires a chamber ensemble of clarinet, trumpet, violin, cello, and bass to play with an electronic accompaniment. Visual imagery by Syrian-Armenian artist Kevork Mourad will then be added to the mix.
The program will also include an earlier commissioned work, Lori Laitman’s 2005 “The Seed of Dream.” This is a setting of the poetry by resistance fighter Abraham Sutzkever, a survivor of the Vilna Ghetto in Lithuania. Laitman scored this for mezzo voice accompanied by both cello and piano. The vocalist for this performance will be San Francisco Opera mezzo Catherine Cook. Cook will also sing a selection of six songs written by prisoners in the Vilna Ghetto during World War II. The program will also include incidental music from Betty Olivero’s 1997 opera The Golem: How He Came Into The World and a dance scored for string trio by Hans Krasa, which he composed while held at the Nazi Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1943.
This concert will take place in the Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. It will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 24, and should last about two hours. Premium tickets in rows A through J of the Center section will be $60. All other tickets will be $45. These will include specific seats designate for wheelchair access, and a seat can also be allocated for the companion of the wheelchair user. Online ticket sales are being managed by Brown Paper Tickets, but the order form has been set up on the event page for this concert on the Music of Remembrance Web site. Tickets may also be ordered in advance by calling 206-365-7770.
There will also be a post-concert reception for meeting the contributing artists, including Kouyoumdjian, over wine and hors d’oeuvres. The reception will begin immediately after the performance. Tickets are $100 and may be purchased both through the event page and by telephone.