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April 11, 2013

Motýl Chamber Ensemble Performs for Yom Hashoah Commemoration

Music from Terezín

Songs of joy and sadness leapt from the strings and mouths of the MOTÝL Chamber Ensemble performance, Music from Terezín, to commemorate Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day at St. Francis College on April 11.

Watch the story on SFCTV

Terezín, a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, was a unique piece in the Nazi death effort. A number of prisoners were permitted to perform classical concerts and operas for their fellow Holocaust victims.

During the concert, the founder of MOTÝL, Aleeza Wadler, offered introductions to many of the songs, explaining the musical and artistic lives of the composers. “I do believe it’s very important to always talk about the history behind the music,” said Wadler. “It needs to be known what happened to these composers and why they died in 1944 and what horrendous conditions they lived under.” (Watch the MOTÝL Chamber Ensemble performance)

Motyl CHamber Quartet Motyl Chamber Megan Weston

Wadler added that, “This music was hidden away unknown for about 40 years and now it’s finally back to life. My goal in presenting this music is that people will realize these are great quartets and should be played in their own right, not just because they were written by composers who died in the Holocaust.”

During the concert, a string quarter with piano and voice, MOTÝL performed works by composers killed in the Holocaust like Hans Krasa, as well as a piece by Felix Mendelssohn which was used in the Nazi propaganda film, Theresienstadt, and a composition by Kurt Weill, who left Germany before he could be rounded up. There was also a slideshow of photos, watercolors, drawings and poems, made by children imprisoned in the concentration camp.

Watch the performance

About the Ensemble
The MOTÝL Chamber Ensemble, which formed in 2003, performs music by composers whose lives were cut short or radically transformed by the Holocaust. Some of the composers were fortunate enough to only be forced into exile while the majority lost their lives in the Holocaust. The ensemble's name, Czech for 'butterfly,' is derived from the poem "The Butterfly" written by Pavel Friedman at the Terezín concentration camp.

The chamber ensemble is dedicated to the remembrance of these great composers through the performance of their music. It is a versatile chamber ensemble of award winning local artists with growing reputations who have appeared with orchestras and in recitals throughout the world. They play music written for different ensembles by Hans Eisler, Hans Gal, Pavel Haas, Robert Kahn, Gideon Klein, Hans Krása, Viktor Ullmann, Karl Weigl, Kurt Weill and Mieczyslaw Weinberg among others. They also perform music that has been composed specifically to honor the victims of the Holocaust.

As winners of the Artists International Competition, the MOTÝL Chamber Ensemble was awarded a New York debut recital at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. The ensemble has performed all over the New York area including at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, the Center for Jewish History, the Museum of the City of New York, New York University, Stony Brook University and Hofstra University as part of the Joseph G. Astman International Concert Series.

Photos: MOTÝL Chamber Quartet, Soprano Megan Weston

St. Francis College, founded in 1859 by the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, is located in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. Since its founding, the College has pursued its Franciscan mission to provide an affordable, high-quality education to students from New York City’s five boroughs and beyond.


St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street, Brooklyn Heights, NY 11201

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