My uncle Wolf Durmashkin believed that music is life… music is freedom. Once a conductor in the Vilna Orchestra with a promising future, his life and legacy were cut short in the Holocaust — he was killed just hours before his camp’s liberation.
His dedication to the healing power of music was astonishing. While captive in the Vilna Ghetto, he used his special work-dispensation to leave the camp as a chance to smuggle in enough instruments (including a piano!) to form the Ghetto Orchestra. He also formed a 100-voice choir and a children’s music school. Through music, he brought hope and dignity and quiet resistance into the lives of everyone around him. Sadly, it seemed that his work didn’t survive him, his legacy nearly lost to the ashes of the Holocaust.
So, it is with gratitude and astonishment to now share the U.S. premiere of one of his compositions, Won’t Be Silent, performed by the Denver Philharmonic, with guest conductor Mark Mast and the Bavarian Philharmonic Chorus.
Originally written as Stay Silent in Klooga Concentration Camp, my uncle’s music was just discovered last year. Thanks to the brilliant Mark Mast and with an expanded composition by Tobias Forster and updated lyrics by Kara DioGuardi, audiences will hear “new” music from Wolf Durmashkin 75 years after his death. Remarkably, members of the choir are themselves descendants of the Third Reich, and they shared with me how healing it is for them to be able to breathe new life into my uncle’s music at its world premiere in Munich in March.
April 20, come be a part of a historic evening. We will celebrate this extraordinary piece of music and give my uncle his much-deserved legacy.