New Music From Composer Mary Kouyoumdjian Featured at Music of Remembrance Concert

Janos Gereben on April 25, 2017
Mary Kouyoumdjian | Credit: Dominica Eriksen

San Francisco-born composer Mary Kouyoumdjian, now a New York City resident, has been commissioned by Music of Remembrance (MOR) for a work exploring the fate of Europe’s Roma, many of whom perished along with Jews and homosexuals in the Holocaust.

Kouyoumdjian’s work, to open myself, to scream, will have its world premiere in Seattle on May 21, and then performed at the MOR concert in the S. F. Conservatory of Music on May 24.

The work is inspired by the life and work of Roma artist Ceija Stojka, who survived three concentration camps to become a noted painter and writer. The performance combines visual projection by Syrian-Armenian artist Kevork Mourad with live chamber orchestra and electronic recording.

Ceija Stojka’s painting, Hiding | Courtesy Pat and Marcus Meier

The program for the event, called “San Francisco Spring Concert: Mirror of Memory,”  also includes music by two other women composers, Betty Olivero from Israel and New Yorker Lori Laitman, and a work that Brundibar composer Hans Krása wrote in Theresienstadt before his deportation to Auschwitz, where he died in 1944. 

On the program:

Mary Kouyoumdjian, to open myself, to scream (2017) — Laura DeLuca, clarinet; Alexander White, trumpet; Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Walter Gray, cello; Jonathan Green, double bass

Hans Krasa’s Dance, 1943 — performed by Shmidt; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola; Gray

Mezzo Catherine Cook in a performance of songs from the Vilna Ghetto — Shmidt, Assadi, Gray; Natasha Bazhanov, violin; Jonathan Green, double bass

Betty Olivero’s “Zeks Yiddishe Lider und Tantz” (Six Yiddish Songs and Dances) from The Golem (1997) — Laura DeLuca, clarinet; Shmidt, Bazhanov, Assadi, Gray

Lori Laitman, The Seed of Dream, song cycle based on poetry by Vilna Ghetto survivor and resistance fighter Abraham Sutzkever — Cook, Gray; Mina Miler, piano

The concert will be followed by a reception with the participation of the artists, tickets are available separately. As for other MOR events, the German Consulate General and the Consulate General of Israel are holding joint receptions, by invitation only.