Testimony of Witnesses (2008)
Flute, Clarinet, Oboe/English Horn, Bassoon, Horn in F, Timpani, Percussion, Harp, Soprano, Mezzo Soprano, Tenor, Bass, Baritone, Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass
An oratorio for SATB chorus, SATB soloists, and chamber orchestra. There are 14 movements, any of which may be performed separately. The text for the oratorio is composed of poetry of victims and survivors of the Holocaust sung in six languages.
The first chorus, a Hebrew supplication from the 2nd century gives a historical perspective to the Testimony of Witnesses Oratorio. The baritone solo The Survivor tells of the guilt of the survivor. Mes Yeux describes poignantly the roundup of Jews in Paris where the poet lived. Lokomotywa is a child's poem about a wonderous train rushing through the countryside - but where is it going?
The following four sections are all poems of children who were in the Terezin concentration camp and the poems move from hope and will to live, to fear, and resignation. The first half of the oratorio concludes with the Sachs poem "We orphans, Oh world, we accuse you!"
After intermission the chorus Transport tells of forcing Jews into trains, children searching for their parents, arrival at the camp, as told in many voices. Poème Macabre describes the taunting and cruelty of a Kapo in a concentration camp. Gedale's Song speaks of hope for a new beginning in Israel 'where we shall be men among other men"
The last chorus Unite is a fragment of poem found in Terezin, a plea for a bright freedom.
1. Bore Ad Ana
SATB chorus accompanied by alto flute and tom toms.
A Hebrew supplication from the 2nd century, gives the oratorio a historical perspective.
2. The Survivor
Baritone solo, ATB chorus, orchestra. Tells of the guilt of the survivor. Italian and
Primo Levi, poet.
3. Mes Yeux
Mezzo soprano and piano. A poignant description of the roundup of Jews in Paris.
Berthe Wizenberg Fleischer, poet. French text
SATB chorus, strings. A child’s poem about the adventures of a wondrous train – but
where is it taking the children? Where is it going?
Julian Tuwim, poet. Polish text
5. Sunny Evening
Soprano solo, orchestra. A poem of hope and the will to live
Unknown child’s poem, Terezin camp. English text
Tenor solo, orchestra.
Eva Pikova, child in Terezin camp. English text
7. Links, Rechts
Soprano solo, orchestra. Left, Right, depicts a mother knitting and the marching of the
soldiers in the camp
Child in Terezin camp. German text
8. The Butterfly.
Tenor solo, orchestra.
Describes the beauty of a lone butterfly, a poem of resignation
Text: Pavel Friedmann, in Terezin camp. English text
9. Chor der Waisen
A cappella SATB chorus, soprano, tenor solos
We Orphans – Oh World, we accuse you!
Nelly Sachs, poet. German text
The forced roundup of Jews, children separated from parents, the trains arriving at the
camp told in many voices.
Words by Else Dotmitzer, Susan Fromberg Schaeffer, John R. Saunders,
Vera Weislitzova, Don Pagis. English text
11 Poème Macabre
Baritone solo, orchestra.
Poème Macabre describes the taunting and cruelty of a Kapo in a concentration camp
Francois Wetterwald, poet. French text
12 Love Poem
Mezzo soprano, Orchestra.
Love Poem tells of the death of Charlotte Delbo’s husband, executed as a member of
the French Resistance.
Charlotte Delbo, poet. English text
13 Gedale’s Song
Baritone solo, T,B chorus, Orchestra
Gedale’s Song speaks of hope for a new beginning in Israel ‘where we shall be men
among other men”
Primo Levi, poet. English text
SATB solos, SATB chorus
A fragment of poem found in Terezin, a plea for a bright freedom.