WLC 2018: Music Salvaged from the Camps Played in Jerusalem

Monday, April 16, 2018 5:09 PM

"Music can never be defeated"

The first day of the KKL-JNF World Leadership Conference concluded with a concert at the International Conference Center in Jerusalem. The concert, entitled Notes of Hope, was produced by JNF UK* and KKL-JNF in honor of the State of Israel’s seventieth anniversary. Its program included eleven musical works that were composed in the ghettos and concentration camps during the Holocaust, and salvaged and brought back to life by pianist and musicologist Francesco Lotoro.
“The production of this historic concert is a gift of JNF UK to the State of Israel in honor of its seventieth birthday,” said JNF UK Chairman Samuel Hayek. “These works, which were composed in the heart of the terror and darkness of the ghettos and the concentration and death camps, are a monument to the inner strength of the brave Jewish musicians, and express heroism and faith in the human spirit. Despite the years that have passed, we still hear the victims’ cries. The State of Israel arose upon the sounds of their torment.”
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who attended the concert, said, “It is hard to understand how, when people’s lives hung by a thread, their spirits never ceased to create. In music, Jews found consolation and the will to cling to life. The heads of the Nazi regime sought to destroy the Jewish people, but the musical compositions that were discovered prove that they could not destroy the Jewish spirit. Music can never be defeated.”
“This wonderful music, which was composed by Jews at humanity’s lowest point, should be a sign to us that even though evil exists, the spirit is strongest of all,” said KKL-JNF World Chairman Danny Atar. “It is hard to believe that even in the worst possible place, people continued to dream. They tried to break our spirit, but they failed. We have the ability to raise ourselves up even from the darkest places. Just as these compositions survived the atrocities, the Jewish people has the ability to overcome all the threats and continue to strengthen Jewish and Zionist heritage.”
The performers at the concert were teenagers from the Music School of the Negev, which is supported by JNF UK, together with musicians from the Ashdod Symphony Orchestra. The conductor was the Jewish pianist and musicologist Prof. Francesco Lotoro, who has made the salvaging of compositions from the Holocaust his life’s work. The Israeli actor Nathan Datner was the master of ceremonies.
“It is vital to salvage and reconstruct the musical legacy that blossomed in the camps so that it can return to the bosom of humanity,” Professor Lotoro said. “From now on, this music symbolically belongs to the new generation, and it is returning, just as much, to the Land of Israel - in other words, it is coming home.”
“We chose to concentrate on a culture that the Nazis tried to destroy, but these songs will survive forever,” said Dr. Amit Weiner, the concert’s musical director.
A formal reception for the participants of the World Leadership Conference was held before the concert. “This evening combines sorrow and joy, the Holocaust victims’ pleas for mercy and the joy of the establishment of the State of Israel. The voice of those who did not survive the Holocaust returns today to Jerusalem.”
In his welcoming remarks, Eran Shani, speaking in the name of the young musicians, recalled the concert’s preparations, which lasted for approximately two years, and shared how empowering the experience was. “It is a privilege to live in Israel and an honor to play works that were composed by victims of the Holocaust,” he said.
JNF USA CEO Russell Robinson spoke about the significance of the World Leadership Conference, saying: “Each time people from all over the world are brought together, the power and creativity of the Jewish people is revealed, and this is where our strength lies.”
* JNF Charitable Trust (JNF UK) is a wholly independent legal entity registered in England and Wales and with the UK Charity Commission. It operates completely separate with its own Board of Directors and Management.