The University of Victoria’s Faculty of Humanities is presenting the world premiere of A Twentieth Century Passion, a Holocaust memorial oratorio by A. Peter Gary, a survivor of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
The oratorio, which is essentially an opera without action or sets, will feature an orchestra, a choir, a children’s choir, several soloists and a child narrator. The performance is slated for April 2, the anniversary of the composer’s liberation and two weeks before his 90th birthday.
Born in 1924 into an upper-middle class Jewish family in Hungary, Gary studied music as a youth. During the Holocaust, he escaped a mass slaughter in which his mother was killed, and he spent three years in Majdanek, Dachau and Bergen-Belsen. He was liberated by the British Army on his 21st birthday, then achieved a PhD in musicology from the Sorbonne.
After immigrating to the United States in 1950, he worked in the Hollywood film industry, composed music, developed several businesses and taught at the University of California. He moved to Victoria in 1991 and founded the Victoria Holocaust Remembrance and Education Society under the auspices of which Holocaust-education talks have been given to more than 65,000 children and teens.
For more details about A Twentieth Century Passion, please visit ring.uvic.ca and click on “Oratorio” in the Culture section.
* * *
Between Stages Play Reading: The play Tough Jews by Michael Ross Albert takes place in Kensington Market and “the crime-filled Jewish ghetto of Prohibition-era Toronto.” The story involves a family of Jewish bootleggers who fight to stay together and stumble into the “crime of the century.”
A Between Stages reading of Tough Jews, directed by David Ferry, features actors Claire Armstrong, Ben Clost, Natasha Greenblatt, Luke Humphrey, Tanja Jacobs, Adam Pettle and Jordan Pettle. $10 admission at the door (no advance tickets). Miles Nadal JCC, Saturday, March 1, 7 p.m. 416-924-6211, ext. 606.
* * *
New in Print: Famed Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem endured an impoverished childhood, married into fabulous wealth, but then lost it all through bad luck and terrible business sense. His work as a writer and performer of his work brought him immense success and celebrity: more than 150,000 people were said to have attended his funeral in New York in 1916. Creator of the Tevye the Dairyman stories that were later packaged as Fiddler On The Roof, Sholem Aleichem has achieved a posthumous fame that would have likely extended beyond his wildest dreams.
Jeremy Dauber, a professor of Yiddish literature at Columbia University, has written what is being billed as “the first comprehensive biography” of this beloved author. Dauber’s The Worlds of Sholem Aleichem: The Remarkable Life and Afterlife of the Man Who Created Tevye, was recently published in a 448-page softcover edition by Schocken/Nextbook.
* * *
Arts in Brief
• Shlomo Schwartzberg continues his series on “Defining Greatness: Director Steven Spielberg,” with a look at the films AI: Artificial Intelligence, The Terminal, War of the Worlds and Munich (with film clips). $11.25 drop in, student $6. Miles Nadal JCC, Monday, Feb. 24, 7 to 9 p.m.
• Instrumentalists are invited to participate in a Klezmer Music Ensemble led by conductor Eric Stein. Meets Tuesdays 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Miles Nadal JCC; pro-rated registration available. firstname.lastname@example.org, 416-924-6211, ext. 0, to register.
• A Klezmer Purim Celebration features the Yiddish Swingtet Duo, consisting of clarinetist Jonno Lightstone and pianist Jordan Klapman. Presented by Adult 55+, Culture, Education, Community. $4, includes hamantashen. Miles Nadal JCC, Thursday, March 6, 2 p.m. (Doors open 1:30 p.m.) Pre-registration required by Feb. 28. 416-924-6211, ext. 0.