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Arts & Music

Concert to honor musicians who fell victim to Holocaust

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Published:   |   Updated: July 9, 2013 at 06:07 PM
TAMPA -

With the millions of lives lost in the Holocaust, so went their potential contributions to the world.

Nancy Rubenstein couldn't stop thinking about that. A pianist, she particularly wondered about the composers - Jewish, other minority groups and political dissidents - whose music was stilled when the Nazis took control.

Some of those musicians escaped, but never got back on track with their careers. Others were permanently silenced by genocide.

"And how many others we will never know about?" says Rubenstein, a Tampa native who now lives in Pittsburgh. "Those who never had a chance to develop their talents or publish their works."

Rubenstein's determination to honor those musicians birthed her Music Reborn project in 2003. Its purpose is to revisit this lost generation of composers through research and live performances, she says, so that "we can always be reminded how the human spirit survives through the most difficult of times."

Rubenstein, a music educator and performer, is back in Tampa this week preparing for "Music Reborn II: Forbidden and Forgotten," a concert co-presented by the Carrollwood Cultural Center and the Tampa Ameet Chapter of Hadassah.

Tuesday's event will highlight the works of nine composers of the Holocaust era, and include a taped video interview of a survivor telling his own story. The concert is dedicated to the memory of the Jewish victims of Kristallnacht, "The Night of the Broken Glass," which signaled the beginning of the Holocaust.

Rubenstein calls the Music Reborn concerts a mix of "entertainment, education and enlightment." About a dozen have played around the country since she launched the project six years ago.

Her mission is to find manuscripts and music from the era of Third Reich oppression that survived the purge, but has remained unpublished or fallen into obscurity.

"Listening to the music of people whose lives were so tragically ended or altered, ... it is meant to help you appreciate the freedom you have," she says. "We live in a country where we are free to worship and be creative, and we don't have to hide our identities."

Brian Wilson Payne, a violin teacher at Lockhart Magnet Elementary School in Tampa, is one of six musicians taking part in the performance. After receiving the sheet music from Rubenstein in the mail, he began researching the stories of the composers - what little he could find.

"If you think of the impact the Holocaust had on the arts alone, it's overwhelming," he says. Though he is haunted by "what might have been," Payne is focusing on what the Nazis didn't accomplish.

"Those composers may have lost their lives, but they're still speaking to future generations through this restored music," he says. "I'm comforted by that thought."

Mary Ann Scialdo, artistic director of the Carrollwood Cultural Center, will be at the piano Tuesday. Like Payne, she is disturbed and pained by how the Holocaust "snuffed out the light" of so many musicians, painters, sculptors and composers. Taking part in this event is her way of honoring their memory.

"I consider this both a spiritual and awareness outreach to the community," she says. "It's more than just listening to the music. It's also about making people think about how so much is at stake when something this horrible happens. That's why we say, 'Never again.'"

'Music Reborn II: Forbidden and Forgotten'

WHAT: A memorial concert to gifted Jewish composers whose lives were lost in the Holocaust

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

WHERE: Carrollwood Cultural Center, 4537 Lowell Road, Tampa

INCLUDES: Exhibits from the Leepa-Rattner Museum and the Florida Holocaust Museum

COST: $18 general admission, $36 benefactor seating. $54 patron special seating (which includes "meet the artists" reception after the performance)

INFORMATION: Call (813) 982-1480


Reporter Michelle Bearden can be reached at (813) 259-7613.

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