On Tuesday, January 27th, twenty-six singers from the Botetourt Chamber Singers, Women's Chorus, and W&M Choir joined with a chorus of over 200 singers in the Carpenter Center in Richmond to perform a concert to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra. They were invited to participate in the massed collegiate choir for this sold out event which featured music of many Jewish composers, as well as moving video footage of several area Holocaust survivors, many of whom attended the concert. January 27th marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp.
The students gathered with singers from Virginia Commonwealth University, Old Dominion University, Longwood University, Sweet Briar College, and several other VA institutions as well as with members of the Richmond Symphony Chorus for two days of intensive rehearsals before the performance. The concert included choral music by Leonard Bernstein, Samuel Adler, and a movement of Verdi's Requiem. The Verdi was included in the program because the work was performed many times by prisoners at Terezin. The Richmond Symphony Orchestra played pieces by several Jewish composers including Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942), Pavel Haas (1899-1944), and Hans Krása (1899-1944) all of whom perished during their internment in a concentration camp.
Sarah VanKirk '15, president of the W&M Women's Chorus said, "It was such a memorable opportunity to be able to perform with so many other singers. The stories of the survivors were tremendously inspiring."
Grayson Kilgo '17, a tenor in the Botetourt Chamber Singers, was equally impressed by the concert. "I was so happy we had a chance to participate. It was a very moving experience."
As witnessed by the personal stories of the survivors, the focus of the performance was on the triumph of the human spirit and the ability of music to make people feel human even in the most degrading and inhuman circumstances.
The William & Mary students were able to participate in this event thanks to the generous support from President Reveley's office, Dean of Arts and Sciences Kate Conley, and Board of Visitor member Lisa Roday.
The full performance will be broadcast on Richmond Public Television later this spring. For more information, please see the Richmond Times-Dispatch articles on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the "Voices of Survival" concert.