Holocaust Memorial Recital commemorates tragic past

In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, a memorial recital hosted by the Sam Houston State University School of Music is scheduled for Jan. 25 in the Gaertner Performing Arts Center. Admission is free and the event starts at 7:30 p.m.

Each selection in the recital deals with either the Holocaust or Jewish influence. The recital will have an array of performances, such as music from the film “Schindler’s List” and pieces that include actual letters written by children in a concentration camp.

“I wanted to put together a recital that would musically remember the tragedy,” recital and vocal studies coordinator Deborah Popham said. “The further away from the date we get, the easier it is to forget. Music is a way to keep the spirit of those affected by the Holocaust alive, and to remember those who suffered a tragic end.”

Ten different performers represent various areas of the music department: vocal, clarinet, bassoon, percussion, euphonium, violin, and piano. Popham will have a singing portion in the recital.

“The audience will hear music not typically performed, and I think it is always more interesting when put into a historical context,” Popham said.  “This music and poetry helped those in the camps survive daily through this atrocity. The arts helped those in an unimaginable situation keep their humanity.”

When Popham first proposed the idea last fall, several of her colleges immediately signed on board. Other performers in the recital include: Ilonka Rus-Edery, Masahito Sugihara, Patricia Card, Nathan Koch, Saule Garcia, Henry Howey, Javier Pinell, Jinyoung Kim, and Brian Graiser.

Graiser, Adjunct Instructor of Percussion, will perform a piece based on the Jewish “Unetaneh Tokef” prayer. He is contributing to the event because he feels that if we forget it, history is bound to repeat itself.

“This event, to me, is as much a memorial for the past as it is a defense for the future,” Graiser said. “When I hear accounts in today’s news of Nazis marching down our own American streets, chanting ‘Jew will not replace us,’ any doubts I have about the ongoing necessity of such memorials are erased.”

For Graiser, this performance is a personal one. His uncle was a Holocaust survivor, who still tells his story to this day.

“One day, hopefully very far from now, my uncle and those like him will no longer be around to tell their stories, and on that day other people will need to take on the responsibility of preserving their memory,” Graiser said. “If we should learn anything from the Holocaust, it’s that we cannot afford to remain silent in the hopes that someone else will stand up for our lives, our dignity, and our dreams.”

Through the spirit of music, this event stands to remind us of the past and, in turn, better prepare us for the future.

“It is my hope that the audience will gain a better understanding of what it was like during this period in history and what these people suffered,” Popham said. “The music on the recital isn’t light nor is it necessarily happy, but it is important that these voices be heard.”

This is the first time the SHSU School of Music has hosted this kind of event. The performance goes from 7:30-8:30 in the Recital Hall at the Performing Arts Center. Admission is free.

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