RNCM Students mark Holocaust Memorial Day

RNCM students performed at the Riley Theatre in Leeds at a Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration on 27 January.

Postgraduates Olivia Jago and Caroline Fairchild (violins), and Beth Woodford (viola), plus former postgraduate Ines Mota (cello), under their collective name of the Sierra Quartet, took part in the theatrical presentation Gideon Klein: Portrait of a Composer. It was written by RNCM Tutor in Academic Studies Dr David Fligg, and directed by Emma Gordon.

The Sierra Quartet performed Klein’s Duo for Violin and Cello, as well as the String Trio, the last work he composed in the Terezín (Theresienstadt) camp and ghetto, completed a few days prior to his deportation to Auschwitz. To help recreate Klein’s musical world of the composers who influenced him, the Quartet also performed music by Mozart, Janáček and Hindemith.

Based on archival research and personal testimony collected by David, and in a new dramatisation by playwright Brian Daniels, Portrait of a Composer recounts the life and music of the Prague-based composer and pianist Gideon Klein who perished, aged 25, in a Nazi concentration camp. Performing to a receptive capacity audience, the Riley Theatre, now part of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, was an appropriate venue. Opened in 1932, this impressively-domed building was once the rather grand New Synagogue in Chapeltown, until its closure some 35 years ago.

This staging of Portrait of a Composer was the first in a number of performances marking Klein’s centenary this year. Tel Aviv’s Karov Theatre plans to perform the play in May, and to mark the centenary month itself it will be staged in repertory at Prague’s Svando Theatre in December, and in Berlin. It has also been performed in the USA and at the Prague Conservatory. David’s biography on Klein will be published by Toccata Press later this year, and David will be co-director for a series of events, Gido’s Coming Home!, in the Czech Republic.

4 February 2019