Teaching About the Holocaust Through Music

On December 2 and 3, under the direction of Choral Director Alysoun M. Kegel and collaborator David Eiduks (voice faculty), students performed the children's opera Brundibar. Originally performed by children in Nazi concentration camps, the opera served as an allegory for resistance. Earlier in the fall, playwright Tony Kushner, who co-wrote with illustrator Maurice Sendak, the children's book, Brundibar, spoke to students about the history of the piece and its relevance today.

Before Sunday evening's performance, cast members had an opportunity for some experiential learning as well. The group visited Ela Weissberger, who was 11 years old when she performed the opera in the Terezin concentration camp. She is the sole survivor of that original performance and now lives in a retirement community in upstate New York.

Says cast member Sarah Platt '18, "Visiting Ela had a tremendous impact on our performance Sunday evening. As soon as Ela walked into the room of her retirement home, a feeling of admiration swept over our cast. She graciously sang two songs with us and a duet with me. We both sang the role of the Cat. Hearing her recount stories of living in the concentration camp, and traveling around the world to see Brundibar performances with her daughter made me connect with her at a much deeper level. I think everyone carried the weight of the history on their shoulders when they performed on Sunday."

In total, 12 Choate students and 6 faculty children were in the cast and performed to standing-room-only audiences. See photo gallery.