ASU musicians perform in concert honoring Holocaust composers

The ASU Symphony Orchestra and the Center for Jewish Studies came together Wednesday night to bring awareness to campus with their concert special, “Composers in the Concentration Camp.”

Part of the Rediscovered Masters Series, a series of multiple concerts taking place at ASU, the concert at Gammage Auditorium showcased the classical music of Jewish composers Erwin Schulhoff, Pavel Haas, Gideon Klein and Victor Ullman.

These four musicians were either killed in concentration camps, exiled from their homelands because of Nazi occupation or had music censored by the Nazi regime during the tumultuous years of World War II.

“The music is different than people might be used to, very modern,” said violin performance junior Santino Ellis-Perez, one of the show’s student musicians. “This is music taken from concentration camps. People need to listen to it in that context and know the concept.”

The concert was a way for many to reconnect with their Jewish roots.

One attendee, April Katz, came as a music lover but was especially drawn to this particular event as a Jewish woman.

“I came to hear the composers’ work, but it’s more meaningful because it represents my family’s history,” Katz said.

Bob Deakin has no Jewish heritage, but said he felt emotionally connected to the Holocaust through his travels.

“I visited the Auschwitz concentration camp last year and have always been interested in the Holocaust,” Deakin said. “When I saw [the concert] was happening, I wanted to come.”

Whether people are fascinated by the subject or not, it cannot be denied that it is certainly a significant and horrible part of global history, Ellis-Perez said.

“The Holocaust was such a terrible time and it resulted in so many awful things,” he said.

It is surprising, then, that something as cheerful and conventional as music should be associated with such a dark period of time.

“It is nice that their music lives on even though they died in the Holocaust,” violin performance freshman Deanna Ramirez said.

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