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Commemorating Kristallnacht with a concert celebrating resilience and reinvention

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

New Zealand School of Music-Te Kōkī at Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington is joining with the New Zealand Holocaust Centre to mark the 82nd anniversary of Kristallnacht with a concert of music from composers who escaped Nazi persecution to reinvent themselves in Hollywood.

"Kristallnacht, or ‘the night of broken glass’, is the night on which carefully orchestrated anti-Jewish violence was carried out across Germany, Austria, and the Sudetanland-it marked a key point at which violence against Jews became normalised in 1938 Germany," says chief executive of the New Zealand Holocaust Centre (HCNZ) Chris Harris.

The HCNZ has commemorated Kristallnacht through music since Holocaust survivor and organisation co-founder Steven Sedley began the tradition in 2010.

"As they escaped the Nazi regime, many Jewish composers from Germany and Austria went and joined Jewish film directors such as the Warner Brothers and Louis B. Mayer in Hollywood, knowing this was a place that was safe and could allow exposure to their music," says Mr Harris.

Dr Inbal Megiddo from New Zealand School of Music-Te Kōkī (NZSM) is the music director for the event. She says, "Each of the works is a gem in itself, and weaving together film music with concert music and providing a multimedia experience means the audience will be in for a treat."

The programme also includes a tribute to the Blue Note Records jazz music label, co-founded by Jewish refugees Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff in 1939.

The concert features a number of musicians from the NZSM, as well as from the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Composers featured include Mieczysław Weinberg, Erich Korngold, Ernst Toch, and Franz Waxman, and jazz composers John Zorn and Sidney Bechet.

Dr Megiddo adds, "This commemoration is especially significant this year, because the world is in tremendous turmoil, making it even more essential for us to stand together and remember those who lost their lives, and say, ‘Never again’."

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