A few months ago, district music teacher, Pam Rhein, had the idea of honoring great music that expresses the wide range of emotion and historical background of the Holocaust. Unbeknownst to her, a Holocaust survivor on the board of the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine had been touting the need to get more young people involved in the Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony. This request coincided perfectly with Mrs. Rhein’s visit to the center and the project took off from there.
Mrs. Rhein applied for and received an Oak Grove-Coburn grant, which allowed the RSU 18 choral program to collaborate with a renowned recording engineer, John Baker, whose work has been nominated for several Grammy awards. Along with Mr. Forster and several of his Music Production students, the choral students took part in a first class recording experience.
The two day recording event on April 27th and April 28th, included all of the districts chorus students from 5th through 12th grade. Mrs. Rhein accompanied all the groups while Mrs. Peterson directed the 5th and 6th Graders and Mr. Rhein conducted the 7th through 12th Graders. The China students were prepared by our newest music faculty member, Mr. Bickford.
Each of the 400 students will receive a commemorative cd and a number of the recordings, titled “Songs of Darkness and Hope” will be given to the Holocaust museum for distribution.
Choral Director, Kevin Rhein, states, “this project was one of the most profound and deeply moving musical experiences that our students have encountered. Learning the Hebrew language, the depth of the lyrics, the beauty of the music, and the history of the Holocaust will forever be a part of what makes them human.”
Mrs. Rhein shares, “Our choral students have had the opportunity to experience the stories and music of children who were part of the Holocaust. This enables them to become a part of the solution in the perpetual struggle of humanity to resist hate and promote peace and understanding. Joining one another in the performance of deep and meaningful artistic expression helps to create a unique bond of artistry and compassion.”
This project will culminate in a public concert presented by the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine, Sunday, May 1st at 1p.m. at Jewitt Hall, University of Maine, Augusta .The program features songs of the Holocaust, along with the story of Brundibar, a children’s opera performed at Terezin concentration camp.
Admission is free, but reservations are strongly recommended. To make reservations call 207-621-3530.