The Defiant Requiem Foundation is set to present the world premiere of Gerald Cohen’s “they burn, the fires of the night: lamentations from the ashes” on Oct. 25, 2023 at the Heller Museum at Hebrew Union College in New York City.
The work will feature mezzo-soprano Leah Wool and baritone David Kravitz. Also on the program are works by composers imprisoned at the concentration camp in Terezín during World War II. The composers include Ullmann, Simon, and Dauber, as well as Messiaen.
“‘they burn, the fires of the night’ was primarily inspired by Menachem Rosensaft’s fierce and heartrending poetry. Rosensaft, son of Holocaust survivors, was born in the DP camp in Bergen-Belsen after World War II, and his poems powerfully impart the intense emotions in his personal story and the larger terror of the Holocaust,” Cohen told OperaWire. “It was an honor to have The Defiant Requiem Foundation commission me to write a piece based on Rosensaft’s work. By crafting a selection of these poems into a 30-minute song cycle, my composition aims to bring out the sentiments in the poetry with the emotions that music aspires to achieve. I hope it will give the audience a visceral and deeply human experience of what happened in that terrible time—and the need to remember, and continue to retell, that history.”
There will be a post-performance discussion moderated by Murry Sidlin, the President and Artistic Director of The Defiant Requiem Foundation.
Admission is free for both the in-person and live stream of the performance.