Musicians to perform for Eva at Auschwitz

Jewish Telegraph, June 2017

MUSICAL TRIBUTE: Ariel Horowitz and Sebastian Zinca

TWO young classical musicians will be performing a new piece at Auschwitz at the end of the month.
Violinist Ariel Horowitz and double bassist Sebastian Zinca will present their own composition Seed for Peace at the Altejudenrampe in honour of Holocaust survivor Eva Kor.
Eva and her twin sister Miriam were sent to Auschwitz in 1944. The 10-year-olds were experimented on by Dr Joseph Mengele, the Angel of Death.
They survived the Holocaust, but the rest of their family didn’t.
Seventy-one years later, Ariel, of New York, met Eva at her CANDLES Holocaust Museum in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Ariel, 20, discovered that Eva leads a trip to Auschwitz every summer, in addition to sharing her story and mission that “forgiveness is the seed for peace” all over the world.
Eva expressed her desire to hear music performed at Auschwitz.
“I’ve never heard a musical piece about forgiveness as healing,” she told Ariel.
On June 30, Ariel and Sebastian will perform Seed for Peace, written especially for this occasion, as well as an arrangement of Roxanna Panufnik’s Hora Bessarabia.
The duo are currently touring Jewish centres in Romania and Poland, performing the pieces.
They had premiered Seed for Peace at the 92nd St Y annual Holocaust programme in New York City in April.
They also set up a Seed for Peace Facebook page featuring videos of them performing.
“I can hardly believe that this performance is something that is actually going to happen,” said Ariel, a graduate of the famed Juilliard School.
“It feels like a dream, like a story, but not like something that is a part of the reality of my future. I suppose that in a way, a few generations removed from its horror, this has also been my perception of the Holocaust.
“Every time I learn something new about this awful tragedy that killed so many Jews and others, my brain can’t wrap itself around the fact that these stories are real; that six million real, living, breathing, and dreaming Jews were slaughtered in one of the most awful genocides in history.
“It’s like my brain has some automatic response to knowledge of this trauma: this can’t be real, these images can’t be real, these stories and these numbers and this horror can’t be real.”
Ariel, who won the Silver Medal and Audience Choice Award at the Stulberg International String Competition in 2013, added: “In two weeks, I know I am going to be confronted with the awful truth that the Holocaust is not something out of a horror movie that you can cuddle with a loved one and slowly wipe from your mind.
“I’m going to physically stand with my real, living, breathing, and dreaming body in the space where the blood of my ancestors was shed; where they were gassed and burned and tortured and made to feel inhuman. There is no happy ending here, no ‘whew, it’s only a dream’.”
Ariel says she has been “taking strength from Eva and her message of forgiveness. Forgiving is not forgetting, it’s not wiping a clean slate and saying ‘Nah bro, no worries, it’s all good’. It is nothing like that. The pain of this genocide will always be with us.”
Ariel, who studied under Itzhak Perlman and Catherine Cho, believes “music has the power to connect people across cultures and backgrounds and languages. It is a medium through which our hearts can beat as one for a brief moment.
“It is a way through which we can reclaim space, time, and sense of self. And while the emotional and logistical struggles surrounding the process of bringing music to Auschwitz have been immense, I feel nothing but gratitude when I think of the brave step Sebastian and I and everyone involved is taking to share one minute of beauty and connectedness in a space so fraught with conflict and difficulty.
“It’s not going to be easy. The performance may not be perfect. Heck, it may not even be ‘good’ by our artistic standards. We’re going to be standing in a field and maybe no one will even be able to hear our acoustic instruments or our voices. Maybe no one will get it, maybe everyone will be crying too much — us included — to understand or be open to receiving music.
“But we are doing it anyway in spite of this, in spite of how hard it is going to be. And that intentionality, I believe, will make all of the difference.
“Because it’s about our ancestors and about the Holocaust, and it’s also about so much more than that.
“It’s our responsibility to spread Eva’s message of forgiveness, of that Seed for Peace, however we can in our violent and hateful world.
“So many people need peace, so many people need for the violence to stop and to be heard and for their humanity to be celebrated. And if one person gets our message, if the air clears just a little bit around that platform, I know that will mean everything.”
Sebastian, 22, added: “No matter how much we try, we cannot wrap our minds around the senseless slaughter of six million innocents.
“That something of this magnitude and terror could actually happen, did actually happen, is something we are not equipped to fully understand.
“Looking further, beyond the realm of understanding, we find art. Art is the voice of the human condition; free, ambiguous, and beautiful. It is our belief that art stands a chance to confront the unthinkable, and this is our guiding hope in taking our music to Auschwitz.
“Meeting Eva and hearing her story has been deeply thought-provoking and shaping for both of us.
“To have her powerful message at the core of our project and to share it through our music is an absolute honour.”
Ariel, whose great-grandmother, Florence, escaped Poland just before the Holocaust, has performed around the world with many leading orchestras.
She also co-founded The Heartbeat Project, teaching music and maths to children on the Navajo (Diné) Reservation in New Mexico, at which Sebastian will be volunteering in the summer.
Four years ago, she appeared on singer-songwriter Krista Detor’s album Flat Earth Diary.
Sebastian, who is also a Juilliard graduate, toured Japan with the Pacific Music Festival Orchestra last year and took part in the inaugural season of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States.
Eva will share her story in Glasgow next week at a sold-out screening of the film The Railway People, which features her visiting Auschwitz with Scottish musician Raymond Meade.

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Mike Cohen

Jewish Telegraph deputy editor and arts editor. Email Mcohen@jewishtelegraph.com with your Jewish arts stories