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Saturday, August 23, 2014

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Concert to feature music from prewar Jewish life

Tags: Arts
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Cantor Benjamin Maissner

TORONTO — A Holocaust Education Week concert at Holy Blossom Temple, titled “Keeping the Music Alive,” will feature “triumphant, and very vigorous and energetic” music, according to the congregation’s musical director, Cantor Benjamin Maissner.

Maissner, who is also musical director of Lachan Jewish Chamber Choir, will direct and perform the musical selections, and Holocaust survivors will share their reflections on the music. The concert will take place Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m.

At a similar concert that Maissner directed for Holocaust Education Week two years ago, survivors spoke of the power of music and how it sustained them in the ghettos and camps, he said.

“It’s not a memorial, morbid concert of the Holocaust,” Maissner said. “The music reflects Jewish life and Jewish creativity from the countries the Nazis occupied.”

The concert will feature Lachan as well as the Holy Blossom Temple Choir (the congregation’s professional ensemble), pianist Nadia Adler, and four cantors: Maissner, Charles Osborne, Anna Trubashnik and cantorial soloist Lindi Rivers.

Musical selections originate from every country the Nazis occupied, and date back as far as the 16th century Renaissance and composer Salamone Rossi, Maissner told The CJN.

As well, the concert will feature 20th-century music by German composer Kurt Weill and 19th-century music by Franz Schubert. The well-known Austrian composer was not Jewish, but composed music in honour of Viennese cantor and composer Salomon Sulzer, whose music will also be featured in the concert.

There will be music from the 1675 inauguration of the Spanish Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam, as well as a French Baroque-era cantata for circumcision and three selections from the children’s opera Brundibar, which was performed in Theresienstadt.

Maissner believes the audience will leave with a better understanding of “the grandeur of the music of the countries that suffered during the war. The point is that the music goes on.”

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