'Creativity in the Face of Death: The Contemporary Resonance of Terezín'
UT Symposium honors and ponders art created in the Nazi concentration camp
By Robert Faires, Fri., Oct. 5, 2012
Art existing in the midst of genocide is a paradox that the mind is hard-pressed to reconcile. How is it possible to be creative when the people around you – loved ones, neighbors, your race – are being ruthlessly, systematically exterminated? What flame of inspiration can be kept alive against such a bitter, vicious wind? Such questions are at the heart of "Creativity in the Face of Death: The Contemporary Resonance of Terezín," a symposium to be held in Austin Oct. 3-11. Its focus is the notorious Nazi concentration camp in Czechoslovakia that was promoted as a model Jewish community, abundant with culture, but was actually a slave labor camp, where tens of thousands of inmates died from the brutal living conditions, and a way station for Jews sent to the death camps of Auschwitz and Treblinka. The kernel of truth in the Nazi propaganda was that an unusual number of artists and artisans lived in Terezín, but that was by design; the Nazis figured to minimize the chance for rebellion by imprisoning artists from Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Germany in one location. Painters, composers, singers, musicians, writers, architects, and more passed through the fortress city and continued to create work there, even as death loomed over them. During the symposium sponsored by Texas Performing Arts and the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies, audiences can experience the work of these imprisoned creators performed by contemporary artists, discussions by artists and scholars of Terezín's history and legacy, and the premiere of a full-length dance work by Donald Byrd that was inspired by the artists of the camp. Here's an abbreviated schedule of events. For more information, visit www.texasperformingarts.org/terezin.
Tuesday, Oct. 9
Daniel Hope and Friends: Forbidden Music8pm, McCullough Theatre
British violinist and music historian Daniel Hope has curated a pair of concerts featuring music connected to Terezín, with UT resident string ensemble the Miró Quartet and baritone David Small of the Butler School of Music faculty joining Hope, pianist Jeffrey Kahane, violinist Benny Kim, and cellist Eric Kim. The first includes Czech composer Sylvie Bodorová's Terezín Ghetto Requiem for String Quartet and Baritone, a contemporary composition honoring artists imprisoned in the city, along with pieces by Maurice Ravel, Erwin Schulhoff, Robert Dauber, Pavel Haas, Gideon Klein, and Karel Berman.
'Works by Loli Kantor and Dennis Darling'Opening reception: 9:30pm, Bass Concert Hall lobby
Documentary images of Holocaust survivors and contemporary Terezín by Loli Kantor, a Fort Worth-based fine art photographer, and Dennis Darling, head of the University of Texas School of Journalism's visual communications area.
Wednesday, Oct. 10
Artist Panel with Daniel Hope, Jeffrey Kahane, and Donald ByrdNoon-1:30pm, Prothro Theater at the Harry Ransom Center
'Last Dance'2-3:30pm, Prothro Theater at the Harry Ransom Center
Screening of Mirra Bank's 2002 documentary chronicling the turbulent collaboration between late author-illustrator Maurice Sendak and Pilobolus Dance Theatre as they developed A Selection, a contemporary ballet inspired by true stories of the Holocaust.
'From Fortress to Ghetto: Terezín/Theresienstadt in History'4-5:30pm, Garrison 1.102
A lecture by UT history professor Tatjana Lichtenstein
Daniel Hope and Friends: Music from Terezín8pm, McCullough Theatre
The second concert by British violinist and music historian Daniel Hope dedicated to music connected to Terezín with the Miró Quartet and baritone David Small of the Butler School of Music joining Hope, pianist Jeffrey Kahane, violinist Benny Kim, and cellist Eric Kim to perform compositions written in the camp by Erwin Schulhoff, Ilse Weber, Hans Krása, and others. A talkback with the artists follows the concert.
Thursday, Oct. 11
'I Never Saw Another Butterfly'2-3:30pm, Prothro Theater at the Harry Ransom Center
Students from Bastrop High School who worked on an award-winning production of Celeste Raspanti's play, adapted from poetry written by children at Terezín, read poems and discuss their experiences playing the children of the camp.
'History and Memory: The Emergence of Terezín in Historical Artistic Consciousness: Czechoslovakia and America'4-5:30pm, Garrison 1.102
A lecture and discussion by UT Czech Studies professor Veronika Tuckerova and UT Jewish Studies professor Robert Abzug
Pre-performance lecture7pm, Bass Concert Hall, lobby level 4
Choreographer and dance scholar Rebecca Rossen and UT Jewish Studies professor Robert Abzug provide background on Spectrum Dance Theater's The Theater of Needless Talents.
'The Theater of Needless Talents'8pm, Bass Concert Hall
Donald Byrd, renowned choreographer and artistic director of Seattle-based Spectrum Dance Theater, honors the Jewish artists of Terezín and the Nazi death camps through segments featuring modern dance, dramatic vignettes, cabaret, and commentary from artists and others of the time, set to music by composer Erwin Schulhoff, a victim of the camps. A talkback with the artists and Byrd follows the performance.