This program features Terezin concentration camp composer Viktor Ullmann's Quartet No. 3, a new work by Gerald Cohen, Playing for Our Lives, a contemporary tribute to the musical life of the camp, and Shostakovich's towering Quartet No. 8, dedicated to the victims of fascism and war. A conversation with Terezin survivor Ela Weissberger and Gerald Cohen illuminates this powerful music.
Muneko Otani, violin
Jennifer Leshnower, violin
Sarah Adams, viola
Nicole Johnson, cello
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) Quartet No. 8 (1960)
II. Allegro molto
Viktor Ullman (1898-1944) Quartet No. 3 (1943)
I. Allegro Moderato
Acclaimed as one of America's outstanding ensembles, the Manhattan based Cassatt String Quartet is equally adept at classical masterpieces and contemporary music. This season they celebrated the summer solstice with noted Astrovisualist, Dr. Carter Emmart at New York's Hayden Planetarium in a spellbinding performance that was described by New York Times music critic James Oestreich as "gamely and artistic." They tour Mexico, collaborate with pianist, Ursula Oppens and violinist, Mark Peskanov at Bargemusic (NY) and Music Mountain (CT) and return to Boston’s WGBH “Drive Time Live” with pianist, Judith Stillman. The Cassatts will premiere Daniel S. Godfrey’s Cello Quintet, a 2012 Chamber Music America commission, with cellist Marc Johnson at Symphony Space in March. They will be in-residence at Texas A & M University and return to their seventh annual Texas educational residency, Cassatt In The Basin! which includes a Triple Quartet performed side-by-side with students and the Cassatt. The Cassatt holds residencies as New York's Symphony Space "All-Stars" and with the Hot Springs Music Festival and Maine's Seal Bay Festival of Contemporary American Music. The Cassatt has recorded for the Koch, Naxos, New World, Point, CRI, Tzadik, and Albany labels and is named for the celebrated American impressionist painter Mary Cassatt.
Composer/vocalist Gerald Cohen is equally at home in the composition of chamber music, choral music, opera, and liturgical music, for all of which he has won awards and praise, and for which Gramophone Magazine noted his “linguistic fluidity and melodic gift.” His music has been commissioned by ensembles including the Cassatt String Quartet, the Verdehr Trio, the Grneta Ensemble, the Franciscan String Quartet, Chesapeake Chamber Music, the Wave Hill Trio, the New York Virtuoso Singers, St. Bartholomew’s Church, and the Battery Dance Company, and has also been performed by the Borromeo String Quartet, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the San Diego Symphony, the Westchester Philharmonic, and many other ensembles and soloists. His two operas: Sarah and Hagar and Seed, have been performed in concert. Recent honors in composition include an Artist Residency with American Lyric Theater, the Copland House Borromeo String Quartet Award, the Westchester Prize for New Work, the American Composers Forum Faith Partners residency, and the Cantors Assembly’s Max Wohlberg Award for distinguished achievement in the field of Jewish composition. Cohen received his B.A. in music from Yale University, and his D.M.A in music composition from Columbia University. He is Cantor at Shaarei Tikvah Congregation in Scarsdale, N.Y., and is on the faculty of the H.L. Miller Cantorial School of The Jewish Theological Seminary and the Academy for Jewish Religion.
Ela Stein-Weissberger is one of a hundred Terezin children who survived World War II. She was born June 30, 1930 to Max and Marketa Stein. In 1939 her childhood drastically changed. Nuremberg Laws stated all Jewish children were to be expelled from school, leaving Ela to study semi-legal courses organized for Jewish children. Soon thereafter, all Jews in Prague were forced to wear the yellow star of David and abide by an eight o'clock curfew. These were just a few of the increasingly senseless anti-Jewish orders that affected day to day life. On February 12, 1942 Ela and her sister, mother, father, grandmother, and uncle were deported to Terezin where they spent three and a half years. In July 1942 Ela was separated from her family and moved to the Girls Home L410. The Germans allowed the children to play, paint and sing, which in many ways saved their lives. The last transport from Terezin was on October 28, 1944, followed by liberation on May 5, 1945. After liberation Ela attended Art School in Prague and her family immigrated to Israel. Ela became a sergeant in the Israeli Army, where she met and married Leopold Weissberger. Ten years later they moved to New York City and had sons David and Tamar. She currently resides in Tappan, New York working as an interior designer. She is dedicated to traveling across the U.S. and abroad in order to tell her story and honor the memory of all Holocaust victims.