The Saintly Voices Perform Brundibár: A Children’s Opera

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This year’s Spring Choral Concert for grades six through eight presented a tribute to victims of the Holocaust with an evening celebrating Jewish music.

The Sixth Grade Choir began the program with two pieces in Hebrew, Hine Ma Tov and Bashana Haba’ah, as a prologue to The Saintly Voices’ concert version of Brundibár: A Children’s Opera by Hans Krasa. Both groups then sang the finale victory song and a final piece, Al Shlosha D’varim.

The opera was originally performed by children in the Terezín concentration camp in occupied Czechoslovakia during World War II. It is a children’s story of two siblings who decide to sing in the market in order to raise money for their sick mother. Brundibár, an evil organ grinder, keeps them from doing so until a sparrow, cat, dog, and the children of the town work together to chase Brundibár away.

“We had constant discussions in class about the context of the opera,” said Mrs. Victoria Redfearn Cave.

“Mr. Lourie, who studied Terezín while in college, came to speak with The Saintly Voices. He presented a historic framework of the time period, but also helped students dialogue about some of their questions. Rabbi Jake Rubin came to speak with the Sixth Grade Choir and also discussed difficult questions. He also provided some history on Jewish traditions and Hebrew pronunciation.”

As a conclusion to their experience, The Saintly Voices will visit the Virginia Holocaust Museum to further their studies about this time period.

There were 55 performances of Brundibár at the Terezín camp, including a 1944 performance that was filmed. Some original footage was shown during the performance.

“Modern technology is amazing for performers.  Performers today have access to a wealth of repertoire, performing clips, and historical data, just from a simple Internet search,” said Redfearn Cave.

“The footage exists because of the original visit from the International Red Cross. The opera was meant as Nazi propaganda, a way to show the world that everything in the camps was wonderful. It was not until later that the world would learn of the actual atrocities taking place.”

Photographs from the performance are now available at the School’s SmugMug account.

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