The unsurpassable power of music to bring comfort and hope will be at the heart of an evening with Professor Nick Strimple at The Pureland Series for China Exchange on Thursday 4th May 2017.
Singing in the Lion’s Mouth: Music and the Holocaust, 1933-2016 will explore the role of music, poetry, and the arts in the Jewish ghettos and concentration camps of World War II. Prof Strimple will lead a group of musicians in a moving piece about the hopes and fears of those who endured the horrors of the Shoah.
To create or compose music at the time was an act not just of defiance but also a statement of endurance and a belief in the indomitable power of God. For many it was a comfort too, a reminder of past lives and those they yearned to experience again. Simply the act of playing a battered violin was a symbol of freedom to those who listened.
No wonder then that even in the concentration camps, where instruments were not accessible, poignant musical pieces were composed in secret, and choral ensembles set up, a moving testimony to the power of creativity and human optimism.
An astonishing corpus of musical pieces, poems, drawings and paintings was produced by Jewish prisoners during and after the war – one of the most famous being Max Helfman’s Die Naye Hagode, a cantata about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
Much of the music and songs that were sung or composed in the camps was not religious, but rather dealt with homesickness – prisoners from all around Europe were sent to the camps – patriotism, and even partisan ideologies.
Prof Strimple is internationally recognised for his work with music related to the Holocaust and has lectured extensively at a number of prestigious universities, including Oxford, Cambridge and Yale, and at the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies.
The author of two critically acclaimed books on choral music, Prof Strimple also served as a consultant to several museums and has conducted some of the world’s leading ensembles, such as the London Symphony Orchestra and the Philharmonia Orchestra.