Kennesaw State to present “Words, Music, Memory: (Re)presenting Voices of the Holocaust”

image of soprano sheena ramirez
Sheena Ramirez, soprano, from James Madison University, will perform on Sept. 19, 2021. 

Free performance, lecture mark opening of exhibition from Museum of History and Holocaust Education

KENNESAW, Ga. (Sep 14, 2021) — Kennesaw State University’s Dr. Bobbie Bailey School of Music (BSOM) and the Museum of History and Holocaust Education (MHHE), in partnership with James Madison University (JMU), will present a free performance and lecture to mark the opening of the MHHE’s new traveling exhibition, “Words, Music, Memory: (Re)presenting Voices of the Holocaust.” The event is scheduled for Sunday, September 19, at 3:00 p.m. in the Music Building, WB109, on the Kennesaw campus. Tickets are not required for in-person attendance, but a reservation is required to watch on Zoom

Visiting JMU soprano Sheena Ramirez, in collaboration with Dr. Jeanette Zyko, oboe/English horn, and Jeremiah Padilla, piano, will present works composed by Lori Laitman and Dr. Laurence Sherr, BSOM composer-in-residence, in this unique performance and lecture. Focusing on music based on the words of young people who witnessed the Holocaust—many of whom, sadly, did not survive—the performance seeks to use the power of music to bridge generations in active commemoration, a theme illuminated in MHHE’s newest exhibition of the same name. 

The ten-panel traveling exhibit, “Words, Music, Memory: (Re)presenting Voices of the Holocaust,” and its accompanying digital gallery guide highlight the links along the chain of commemoration that connect the past and the present, and generation to generation. 

While the panels focus on the words of writers who witnessed the Holocaust, the gallery guide includes biographies of the writers, sketches by the panel illustrators, information about musical and dramatic pieces adapted from the writers' works, and interviews with composers, lyricists, performers, and producers. It also provides visitors with opportunities to access performance videos and share their perspectives. 

Exhibit curator Adina Langer said, “Literature, music, and performance work together to open a window across space and time for generations to connect with one another.” Langer will lead a Q&A with Ramirez and Sherr after the September 19 event. 

Sherr’s expertise in music and the Holocaust is manifested through the creation of Holocaust remembrance compositions, the production of Holocaust remembrance events, and through international lecturing, research, and teaching.

image of laurence sherr sitting at the piano
Dr. Laurence Sherr’s expertise in music and the Holocaust is manifested through the creation of Holocaust remembrance compositions, the production of Holocaust remembrance events, and through international lecturing, research, and teaching.

Ramirez, a renowned soprano, is currently working on her doctorate from JMU. She said, “This concert is the culmination of nearly two years of work with my fellow Oberlin alum, Adina Langer, and will prominently feature the work I’ll be presenting for my final DMA lecture recital at James Madison University.”

“Words, Music, Memory” will be on display at the September 19 concert and then will move to the KSU Center until November 9, 2021, when it will be shown at a closing concert in memory of Kristallnacht at Morgan Hall in the Dr. Bobbie Bailey & Family Performance Center at 7:30 p.m. 

“Kristallnacht Commemoration” will feature Cory Schantz, baritone; KSU Chamber Singers, Leslie J. Blackwell, conductor; and Laurence Sherr, composer, and include Sherr’s own “Fugitive Footsteps” in this moving concert commemorating the Holocaust. The concert will complement the MHHE exhibition that documents the lived experiences of people who perished in the Holocaust, but whose words live on through preservation, musical composition, and performance.

No tickets or reservations are required to attend the September 19 event in person but a reservation is required to watch via Zoom. Tickets for the November 9 event are available here. View the MHHE gallery guide.

--Kathie Beckett

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