FOPA GRANTS: BHS Camerata sings at symphony hall
Photo copyright Michael J. Lutch
In-person shows are back. And thanks in part to a grant provided by FoPA, the BHS Camerata choir opened their season in grand fashion on Oct. 25 at Boston’s Symphony Hall – joining the orchestra at the 2021 Terezin Music Foundation Gala in a musical program by composers imprisoned in Terezín (Theresienstadt), a WWII Nazi concentration camp in what is now the Czech Republic.
BHS Camerata performed the powerful finale from Hans Krása’s children’s opera, “Brundibár.” The image above the stage shows children at Terezin performing the same music during the war.
Evening highlights included a performance and talk by 90-year-old Belgian holocaust survivor Simon Gronowski, a jazz pianist who lifted his neighbors’ spirits with window concerts during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Later that week, Simon inspired hundreds of students and teachers on the BHS auditorium stage. He began in English, describing how he escaped from the Nazis by jumping off a moving train and the devastation of leaving his mother and sister who perished in Auschwitz.
As Simon recalled harrowing details about life under Nazi rule, he reverted to French, while his grandson, Romain De Nys, translated. No longer confined by his script, Simon’s emotions and storytelling became even more moving.
Simon concluded with a heartrending performance of “On the Sunny Side of the Street.” Despite being late for their next class, the students sat captivated, perhaps understanding they were witnessing something they would always remember.
Thanks to community donations to BHS Friends of Performing Arts, experiences like these are possible for students. This FoPA grant helped fund Simon Gronowski’s travel from Brussels, so that he could reinforce his message that, even in the worst of times, music can heal.
Jennifer B. Wells
Romain De Nys translates his grandfather's story
Simon Gronowski plays for the BHS audience