RIC to present 'Phoenix from the Ashes: A Musical Remembrance of the Holocaust' and Northeast premiere of the documentary, 'The Boys of Terezín'

"Phoenix from the Ashes: A Musical Remembrance of the Holocaust" concert will be held on Wednesday, March 21, at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in the Nazarian Center’s Sapinsley Hall. The concert is part of the RIC Wednesday Chamber Music Series and features seven songs for soprano and piano composed by internationally renowned pianist, Judith Lynn Stillman, RIC’s artist-in-residence. The work will be performed by Lori Phillips ’86, soprano, New York Metropolitan Opera, with Stillman as collaborative pianist.

Immediately following the 7:30 p.m. concert on March 21, the Northeast premiere of "The Boys of Terezín" will be screened.

Judith Lynn Stillman

Lori Phillips
The song texts for the concert are based upon poems from Vedem, (Czech for “In the Lead”), a magazine which included art, essays, interviews and poetry and was secretly written by teenage boys in the Terezín concentration camp during the Holocaust.

Of the scores of boys who knowingly put their lives in danger to create Vedem, only one of them, Sidney Taussig, remained in Terezín until its liberation in May 1945. He had the insight and courage to bury nearly 800 pages of the manuscript in the hopes that it might survive World War II. After the camp was liberated, Taussig retrieved the magazine and brought it with him to Prague.

Eighty-two year-old Sidney Taussig, who now resides in West Palm Beach, Fla., will be an honored guest at both events.

The program includes cantors Brian Mayer, Temple Emanu-El, Providence; Judy Seplowin, Temple Beth-El, Providence; Fred Scheff, Temple Shalom, Middletown; and the RIC Chorus.

In discussing how this historic premiere evolved, Judith Lynn Stillman said she was inspired to create "Phoenix from the Ashes" when she was on tour in Montreal and came across “Vedem” while visiting the home of two Holocaust survivors.

Sidney Taussig

At the same time, Stillman’s daughter was admitted to a selective dramaturgical program at Harvard where writing lyrics is one of her charges.“I was struck by how fortunate it is that her lyrics have the gift of life – they live in current music – and how overwhelmingly heartbreaking it is that the young Terezín voices were extinguished. I was instantly compelled to give a “rebirth,” a kind of immortality, to these tragically muted voices, through song settings,” Stillman said.

"The Boys of Terezín" by John Sharify, a seven-time recipient of the National Edward R. Murrow prize for journalism and the winner of 40 Emmy awards, brings together Holocaust survivors and contributors to Vedem, Seattle’s renowned Northwest Boychoir and a chamber music group to capture the story of Vedem.

As the members of the Northwest Boys’ Choir rehearse a new oratorio, they not only learn the poems that the Boys of Terezín wrote, but they also get a glimpse into the boys’ daily struggle for survival at the concentration camp. The film also reunites – after 65 years – several boys of Terezín including Taussig.

The afternoon and evening programs are free and open to the public.

For more information on these events, please call (401) 456-9883 or check the website at www.ric.edu/pfa.