Honoring the Music of World War II

by Nina Karim, '10

In February, APU's School of Music presented Music in the Time of War, a week-long lecture and concert series to explore the music and people of World War II.

The week's events began with a man internationally recognized for his work with music related to the Holocaust, Nick Strimple, DMA, assistant professor of choral music at USC. Dr. Strimple is the leading author of 19th and 20th century books on choral literature, and he spoke to the audience of his musical and historical experiences.

The next event in the series, Beauty and Brutality, presented Susan Eischeid, DMA, principal oboist and professor of music from Valdosta State University, who spoke about the infamous SS Aufseherin Maria Mandl and the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz-Birkenau. A short concert featuring music from that time followed the lecture.

A concert in tribute to pianist Dame Myra Hess included a brief history of this woman who designed a noon-time concert series during the war to encourage her countrymen.

This was followed by the Degenerate Concert, which aimed to celebrate the triumph of the human spirit by honoring music forbidden or looked down upon during the war. The concert included instrumental jazz, vocal jazz, spirituals, and chamber music.

The series closed with Remembering the Holocaust, which featured music performed and composed during the Holocaust and composed by survivors, presented in remembrance of its victims. This concert was given by conductor Michelle Jensen, and APU Chamber Singers and Men's Choral opened up the performances.

"I thought the Holocaust concert series provided a real glimpse of history. It touches you to hear the music from the camps, and it adds another dimension rather than just looking at pictures or hearing someone talk about it," said freshman member of Men's Chorale Cameron Sczempka. "To produce the music that kept them alive, was composed in the dirt, or even scribbled on scraps of paper is rewarding and a reality shock."