The Holocaust – Why the World must never forget. Think WHY did it happen? Think HOW could it happen? …..


And think about the incalculable loss to mankind of 6 million Jewish dead.

That was my thought at the opening concert of the 4th Brundibar Arts Festival in Brunswick Methodist Church Newcastle – Alexandra Raikhlina’s (Sasha’s) contribution to Holocaust Memorial Day. For starters, here we see Inclusion at its very best, at its most spiritual. No place for exclusion in this inclusive church, its Cross crowning the proceedings.

Today, the confrontation should be between all those who pray to one God, a Universal Creator, and all those who choose not to, those who miss out on the meaning and direction to life that faith can provide. In our new global, inclusive world causing death and destruction in tribal warfare between those who have found different routes to find God is tragic, and it is now centuries out of date.

And the loss to mankind?

 Elie Wiesel, Night wrote “To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.  Sasha, a Russian born violinist in the Royal Northern Sinfonia at Sage Gateshead, and her friends and colleagues celebrate the music born of the Holocaust, reminding the world of its loss, both culturally and in so many other ways, because of the barbarity of State-driven, mass-produced murder in Hitler’s gas chambers and crematoria.

Sasha was joined by Natalie Clein, Luba Ulybesheva, the Bell Quartet and Simon Wallfisch baritone, Daniel Garlitsky, and Sarah Castle mezzo-soprano. The featured composer who might otherwise be forgotten the late Olivier Greif, the son of holocaust victims. Dr. Ian Biddle, who teaches Music and Yiddish culture at Newcastle University and Olivier’s brother, Jean-Jacques Greif, gave the introductory pre-concert talk. The family story is in his book Le Ring de la mort.

The programme notes said that the music drew its inspiration from the song of the Warsaw Ghetto “Shtil, di nacht is ojsgesternt” (Silence, the night is crowded with stars) and John Keats “The beautiful lady without Thank you” an allegory of a “triumphant death”. Can death on the scale of the Holocaust really be that? Music succeeds where words fail.

The opening concert focussed on the second generation of Holocaust victims.

 If you live in or near Newcastle on Tyne do visit the Brundibar Arts Festival website and see how top- flight musicians use the profundity of musical interpretation to convey meanings that words alone never quite achieve in the same way. And there is drama too.

Today the four young musicians from the Bell Quartet visited Philip Cussins House in Gosforth, so that the Jewish and non-Jewish residents and the staff of the care home could share the beautiful sound of their music.

 This is a Festival without festivities, but nevertheless celebrates excellence in a world that gives every appearance of running on empty, without brakes and on a road to nowhere.

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