The 40-voice Summer Singers of Lee’s Summit will join with soloists Megan Moore and Joshua Markley, Kansas City Symphony cellist Larry Figg, and pianist Dr. Geoffrey Wilcken, to perform a deeply moving work, the Holocaust Cantata of American composer Donald McCullough. The cantata in 13 movements alternates narrations and musical selections that tell of life in Polish concentration camps during the Holocaust. The hauntingly beautiful music reflects the strength of spirit of those who suffered during that terrible time. The narrations will be read by retired Rabbis Larry Karol, his wife Rhonda Karol, and Rabbi Mark Levin.
There will be two performances, Sunday, July 30, 4:00 PM, and Monday, July 31, 7:30 PM, in the nave of the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 416 SE Grand Avenue in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. Tickets are available at the door or online: www.ChoralFoundation.org/concerts
The program also includes Kaddish in Memory of the Six Million by composer Amy Thropp. The Kaddish is a plaintive solo by Megan Moore, punctuated by choral chants that name all of the concentration camps. The work was premiered in Atlanta by the Jewish choral ensemble Zimria Festivale Atlanta, conducted by Amy Thropp. Thropp is also the retired music director of Congregation Beth Shalom in Dunwoody, Georgia. She will be in Lee’s Summit to speak about music of the Holocaust period and to conduct her work.
The concerts will culminate with an a cappella selection by young Norwegian composer Kim Andre Arnesen, entitled “Even When He Is Silent” on words found written on the wall of a concentration camp after World War II:
I believe in the sun, even when it’s not shining.
I believe in love, even when I feel it not.
I believe in God, even when He is silent.
The Summer Singers of Lee’s Summit was created in 2014 as an ensemble of the William Baker Choral Foundation. Jennifer Lahasky, Music Director, was appointed in 2022 and is leading her second season at the helm of the summer-only choir. She holds the Bachelor of Music Education from Washburn University and the Master of Music Education in Choral Pedagogy from the University of Kansas. She is a music educator in the Blue Valley Kansas District, served for five years as associate director of the Summer Singers of Lee’s Summit, and is a ten year member of the semi-professional chorale, William Baker Festival Singers.
The concert will begin with a short informational talk about the role of music in the camps and ghettos during the Holocaust by Dr. Shelly Cline, historian and director of education for the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education. The concerts will be followed by a wine and cookies reception in the art gallery of the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
On display during the reception will be art works and projects by the children of the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy.
The children’s art and “jewish heroes” exhibition is meant to be viewed after the performances, leading the audience on an emotional journey from the Holocaust imagery, music and stories to an exhibit and reception that has a theme of Faith, Hope and Love.
The stand-out on the exhibit is a research project done by fourth-graders at the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, where each child researched a person that helped save Jewish lives during WWII. From employing Jews in factories to hiding them in sewers, each story is told in the child’s voice via a QR code that visitors may access.
The performances and the art exhibition are sponsored by the Choral Foundation, the Louis and Frances Swinken Supporting Foundation of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Kansas City, and the City of Lee’s Summit Cultural Arts Division and Cultural Commission.