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Susan Smith-Harmon

Susan Smith-Harmon

Holocaust survivor to make symphony debut with Ma

Tuesday, 22 October 2013 04:10 Published in National News

   NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. (AP) — The already remarkable life of Holocaust survivor George Horner is about to take another exceptional turn.

   The 90 year old pianist will make his orchestral debut with renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma on Tuesday night at Boston's Symphony Hall. And they'll be playing music composed 70 years ago at the Nazi prison camp where Horner was incarcerated.

   "It's an extraordinary link to the past," said concert organizer Mark Ludwig.

   The performance will benefit the Terezin Music Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving the work of artists and musicians killed in the Holocaust.

   Led by Ludwig, the foundation is named for the town of Terezin, site of an unusual Jewish ghetto in what was then German-occupied Czechoslovakia. There, even amid death and hard labor, Nazi soldiers allowed prisoners to stage artistic performances.

   Horner played piano and accordion in the Terezin cabarets, including tunes written by fellow inmate Karel Svenk. On Tuesday, Horner will play two of Svenk's works solo — a march and a lullaby — and then team up with Ma for a third piece called "How Come the Black Man Sits in the Back of the Bus?"

   Svenk did not survive the genocide. But his musical legacy has, due in part to a chance meeting of Ludwig, a scholar of Terezin composers, and Horner, who never forgot the songs that were written and played in captivity.

   Still, Ludwig found it hard to ask Horner to perform pieces laden with such difficult memories.

   "To ask somebody who ... played this in the camps, that's asking a lot," said Ludwig.

   Yet Horner, now a retired doctor living near Philadelphia, readily agreed to what he described as a "noble" mission. It didn't hurt that he would be sharing the stage with Ma — even if he thought Ludwig was joking at first.

   "I told him, 'Do you want me to swallow that one?'" Horner recalled with a laugh. "I couldn't believe it, because it's a fantastic thing for me."

   The program features additional performances by Ma and the Hawthorne String Quartet. In a statement, Ma said he's glad the foundation is "giving voice through music to those whose voices have been tragically silenced."

   Horner was 21 when he was freed by Allied soldiers in 1945 after serving time at Terezin, Auschwitz and Buchenwald. His parents and sister perished in the camps.

   And though his back still bears the scars of a Nazi beating, he remains spry and seems much younger than his 90 years.

   When Horner found out about the duet with Ma, Ludwig said, "he was so excited, to me he sounded like a teenager."

   ___

   Online: www.tmfgala.org

Man charged with threats to St. Louis Co. mosque

Tuesday, 22 October 2013 03:41 Published in Local News

   HAZELWOOD, Mo. (AP) - A Florissant man has been charged with making terrorist threats at a St. Louis County mosque.

   Forty-five year old Talib Al-Ganzawy was arrested and jailed on a $50,000 bond. Hazelwood police say Al-Ganzawy had a business dispute with board members at the Muslim house of worship.

   The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the suspect threatened to "shoot up" the mosque. He was not armed when arrested.

   A mosque spokesman says Al-Ganzawy was not a member but had asked for help to settle a landlord-tenant dispute. The board declined to intervene.

   Al-Ganzawy remained in jail Monday after a scheduled court arraignment. Online court records did not list an attorney on his behalf.

 

   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Thousands of disappointed Illinois residents are expected at the state Capitol to rally for same-sex marriage.

   Organizers say several thousand people are expected to take part in the "March on Springfield" -a grassroots effort to urge the passage of same-sex marriage legislation in Illinois.

   The Illinois Senate approved the measure last February, but the measure has stalled in the House. Speaker Michael Madigan has said about a dozen votes are still needed.

   The event will begin with a noon concert followed by a rally at 1 p.m. and a 2:30 p.m. March. Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin and Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn are participating in the event. The governor says he will sign legislation if passed by the General Assembly.

   Currently 13 states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage.

 

 

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