Pianist Mina Miller is the founder, president, and creative director of Music of Remembrance, a non-profit group that focuses on remembering the Holocaust by way of music. Just like the group, Miller is at present primarily based in Seattle, however she is initially from New York, the place she acquired levels from the Manhattan Faculty of Music and NYU.
Searching for to use the teachings realized from the Holocaust to our trendy occasions, Music of Remembrance commissions works that convey consideration to the experiences of others who’ve been excluded or persecuted for his or her religion, ethnicity, gender, or sexuality. A number of the composers they’ve commissioned since their founding embrace Lori Laitman, Nicolas Lell Benavides, Mary Kouyoumdjian, and the late Ryuichi Sakamoto. For its milestone twenty fifth anniversary, Music of Remembrance has commissioned a brand new opera composer by Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer. Earlier than It All Goes Darkish is predicated on the true story of a murals that, unbeknown to the heir, had been looted by the Nazis from its authentic house owners.
What led you to develop into occupied with founding Music of Remembrance?
In 1998, I used to be established as a college professor and performing pianist. I needed my subsequent step to be one the place I might use music to make a distinction on the planet. Because the baby of oldsters whose whole households have been annihilated within the Holocaust, I had grown up with a visceral consciousness of the ability of reminiscence, and of the vastness of tales that wanted telling. Music of Remembrance was a calling for me, a approach of pulling these strands collectively, and of looking for to provide a voice to those that had been silenced.
What are among the guiding rules in your work programming and commissioning for Music of Remembrance?
Over the previous quarter-century, we’ve got commissioned and premiered over 40 new works. Many of those commissions recalled the Holocaust and different historic atrocities, however — particularly prior to now decade — they’ve additionally centered on challenges to human rights in our personal time. In programming our performances, we try to convey previous and current collectively, combining music that preserves reminiscence with works that draw on these classes to handle pressing questions for right now.
Whereas we’ve got commissioned works by long-established composers like Jake Heggie, Tom Cipullo, Lori Laitman, and Ryuichi Sakamoto, we’ve got additionally sought alternatives to work with a gifted new technology of composers like Mary Kouyoumdjian, Nicolas Lell Benavides, Sahba Aminikia, Eric Hachikian, and Christophe Chagnard. We particularly need composers to create works that come from their very own hearts and their very own experiences, together with Sakamoto’s Snow Falls, concerning the penalties of nuclear warfare; Hachikian’s Return to Amasia, concerning the Armenian genocide; Aminikia’s Stormy Seas, about baby boat refugees; and Benavides’ Tres minutos, a couple of household and a border that separates them.
For those who have a look at our programming, you’ll be struck by how our musical scope has grown. Our early seasons centered totally on works for small chamber ensembles. Since then, our repertoire has broadened to additionally embody choral works, choreography, movie scores, musical dramas, and fully-staged operas.
Individuals who’ve attended our concert events will inform you that we’ve by no means compromised our creative requirements. We’ve been blessed with an amazingly devoted core ensemble of gamers from the Seattle Symphony, and we’ve been in a position to herald world-class visitor artists like mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, who carried out in Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Intonations: Songs from the Violins of Hope at our most up-to-date live performance.
Through the years, Music of Remembrance’s scope has expanded past the Holocaust to handle different problems with persecution. What are among the matters and approaches that commissioned composers have taken in addressing these points?
If the Holocaust teaches us something, it’s the horrible worth of silence within the face of injustice suffered by others. In our Holocaust-inspired commissions, we’ve emphasised the vary of communities that have been focused: not solely Jews, however different non secular minorities, homosexual folks, Roma, modernist artists, political critics, and resisters. Trying past the Holocaust, we’ve commissioned works concerning the Armenian genocide, the wartime internment of Japanese People, and the devastation of nuclear warfare. We’ve additionally commissioned works centered on persevering with and modern challenges like non secular intolerance, the worldwide refugee disaster, and border separations.
Music, and particularly opera, has an influence to achieve folks’s hearts in ways in which textbooks and newspapers can not. Slightly than attempting to show dispassionate historical past classes, our handiest commissions have been people who inform intimate emotional tales: the idealistic younger lovers torn aside in Nazi Berlin; the Auschwitz survivor struggling for phrases able to describing what she witnessed; the kid boat refugees braving stormy seas in the hunt for security and new lives; the brother and sister allowed a short supervised reunion on the U.S.-Mexico border.
How did the brand new opera by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer, and its premiere tour, come about?
The opera, Earlier than It All Goes Darkish, happened with Jake’s discovery of a real story that Howard Reich reported within the Chicago Tribune. Gerald “Mac” McDonald, a Vietnam Battle veteran within the Chicago space, found that he was the only rightful inheritor to a priceless artwork assortment stolen by the Nazis from a great-great-uncle whom Mac had by no means heard of. His arduous voyage to Prague in the hunt for this inheritance led him to embrace an identification that had been hidden from him, and thru artwork he discovers a deeper fact in his life.
Earlier than It All Goes Darkish is our fifth main fee with Heggie and Scheer, and we all know that, just like the others, will probably be very particular. We’ll unveil the work in Could 2024 in a three-city premiere tour at Seattle’s Benaroya Corridor and San Francisco’s Presidio Theatre, and in partnership with Chicago Opera Theater on the Athenaeum Middle. The manufacturing will star bass-baritone Ryan McKinny and mezzo-soprano Megan Marino.
What issues can we look ahead to subsequent from you and Music of Remembrance?
There are such a lot of extra tales that must be heard. Our 2023-24 season will embrace a deal with Native American experiences and the premiere of a brand new work we’ve commissioned concerning the present battle for ladies’s rights in Iran. We’re satisfied that music really can matter for the world, and it’s this conviction that retains us shifting ahead.
I CARE IF YOU LISTEN is an editorially-independent program of the American Composers Discussion board, and is made doable because of beneficiant donor and institutional assist. Opinions expressed are solely these of the creator and will not signify the views of ICIYL or ACF.
You’ll be able to assist the work of ICIYL with a tax-deductible present to ACF. For extra on ACF, go to the “At ACF” part or composersforum.org.