Luggage. A room full of suitcases, bags, parcels as diverse in size, shape and color as you can imagine. I was grateful for the glass wall between us and the probably musty jumble of containers. It was the luggage of those traveling into the concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau. How would I pack if I was being forced to leave my home for an unknown destination? I was in Oświęcim, Poland on a tour of Auschwitz I in the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
Our tour included passing several other rooms filled with items taken from the possessions of the detainees upon arrival, and some items removed from their bodies, such as human hair. We stood for a while at the firing wall, some pausing to say a prayer. We walked into the gas chambers…but we walked out of them too. This was not the case for the hundreds of thousands of people exterminated there.
This experience I had was similar to that Dr. Sean Vogt had. He’s the director of the Apollo Male Chorus with whom I have been singing for a year and a half. Inspired by a similar visit he’d made to Auschwitz in 2013, Dr. Vogt has built a program to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the its liberation. This “Liberation of Auschwitz” program will be Tuesday, January 27th at 7:00PM. The music will include Arnold Schoenberg’s rarely performed “Survivor from Warsaw” whose complex texture and disjunct melodies (utilizing 12-tone technique) seem a fitting portrayal of the suffering of so many.
As a contrast to the Schoenberg the evening begins and ends with the world premier of James Bassi‘s newly commissioned joyful and resolute Five Prayers scored for men’s chorus, baritone soloist, orchestra and dancer.
This concert may be a hard journey. Emotionally and aurally it has some challenging material. However, it will have an impact on this community and hopefully stick in peoples minds, just like that room full of luggage…lest we forget.
Please make an effort to come to this show. Tickets can be purchased directly through the Ted Mann Box Office.
Ted Mann Concert Hall
University of Minnesota
2128 4th Street South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Tickets: $38-$88 (there is a discount available for groups of 10 or more)
Available at the Tedd Man box office site here.