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Music of Remembrance 2017-2018 features music commissions inspired by Japanese and Japanese American wartime experience

Image copyright : Music of Remembrance

Since 1998, Music of Remembrance (MOR) has commissioned over 30 new works that honor the victims of injustice and persecution. That legacy continues with MOR’s 20th season, Voices of Witness, featuring four new music commissions inspired by Japanese and Japanese American wartime experience by composers Ryuichi Sakamoto, Keiko Fujiie and Christophe Chagnard. These new works will be premiered at MOR’s main stage concerts on November 5, 2017 at 7 p.m. and May 20, 2018 at 5 p.m., at Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall in Seattle; and on May 24, 2018, 7:30 p.m. at San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Tickets: $30-$60 available at musicofremembrance.org

“MOR was founded nearly 20 years ago to remember the Holocaust through music­­, and we are still deeply committed to that mission” said MOR Founder and Artistic Director Mina Miller. “The Holocaust’s legacy also calls on us to honor all victims of exclusion and persecution. We’re humbled to share stories of Japanese wartime experience with these commissions.”

The November 5 concert features the world premieres of new works by composers Ryuichi Sakamoto and Keiko Fujiie that remember the atomic bombing victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Sakamoto’s Snow Falls draws on melodies from his film score for “Nagasaki: Memories of My Son.” It sets an iconic poem of that name, both in the original Japanese and in an English translation by Empress Michiko. Fujiie’s song cycle Wilderness Mute is based on texts by Japanese poets from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The program also features guest artist Robert Orth in Paul Schoenfield’s Sparks of Gloryfour portraits of Holocaust defiance taken from the true accounts of heroes too modest to recognize their own heroism. Also, little-known pieces created by French, British and Dutch composers in prison and concentration camps.

The May 20 concert unveils Gaman by Seattle-based composer Christophe Chagnard. The work’s title refers to the struggle to endure the unbearable with patience and dignity, focusing on the experience of people of Japanese ancestry forced into incarceration camps during World War II. It combines traditional Japanese and classical Western instruments, bringing a powerful story to life through testimonies of the words and images created by three artists and poets during their captivity in the Minidoka camp. The concert also features Sakamoto’s second MOR commission, NAMÉ, remembering all who perished in World War II. Chamber music by Erwin Schulhoff showcases an audacious talent whose life ended in a Nazi concentration camp. Songs from the Terezín concentration camp inspire with their remarkable resilience of spirit.

The four new commissions by Sakamoto, Fujiie and Chagnard will also be featured in MOR’s fourth annual Bay Area concert at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on May 24, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.

The 2017-18 season features MOR’s chamber ensemble drawn from the ranks of the Seattle Symphony, joined by guest artists baritone/narrator Robert Orth; soprano Ann Moss; and Ringtaro and Asako Tateishi of Seattle’s School of Taiko. For more information, visit musicofremembrance.org.

About Music of Remembrance

MOR remembers the Holocaust through music and honors the resilience of all people excluded or persecuted for their faith, nationality, ethnicity, gender or sexuality. In addition to rediscovering and performing music from the Holocaust, MOR has commissioned and premiered more than 30 new works by some of today’s leading composers, telling stories of tragedy, courage and inspiration.

(The article and images are retrieved from About Music of Remembrance’s press release on August 30th)