Day 11: Gabor Lacko led by St Paul's Church, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham - 17th January
In partnership with: Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Jewellery Quarter Academy, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
For Day 11, we shared a film made by St Paul’s Church and BCMG featuring a musical response to Gabor Lacko’s testimony and sharing pledges made in his name. The musical solos were performed by 3 musicians from Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s NEXT Study Scheme in Contemporary Music Performance.
Originally planned to be screened at St Paul’s Church to the congregation, this film has an introduction from the Revd. David Tomlinson and went out at the same time to coincide with the end of Sunday Service.
Students from Jewellery Quarter Academy participated in an online discussion with St Paul’s Events Manager Philippa Walusimbi, Miranda Heggie NEXT Project Manager and the NEXT musicians in advance of the Campaign Day. This activity was part of the partnership between the local school, church and arts organisation. Further activity as part of the pledges will be shared via social media over the coming year.
Notes from the musicians
Olivia Jago – violin
Olivia Jago is a violinist from Anglesey, Wales. She graduated with first class honours degree from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in 2016, and in 2019 completed her Masters in Music at the Royal Northern College of Music. Sher is currently leader of North Wales Camerata and has performed with orchestras and ensembles including Sinfonia Cymru, Novello Orchestra and Manchester Camerata.
Olivia is playing a piece called T’Filah by the Russian composer Lera Auerbach, who was born into a Jewish family in Chelyabinsk, a city in the Ural Mountains bordering Siberia, in 1973. T’filah takes its name from a Jewish prayer. In her video, Olivia tells us more about the piece, what it means to her, and how Gabor Lacko’s testimony has informed her playing.
Maja Pluta – violin and piano
Maja Pluta (b.1994 in Krakow) is a creative performer and community musician. She is currently a violinist on BCMG’s NEXT scheme and a student of the Experimental Performance masters at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Her main interests include improvisation, multidisciplinary collaboration and the role of music in supporting learning and wellbeing. She is passionate about learning foreign languages and exploring other cultures.
Maja has created her own work in response to Gabor Lacko’s testimony, titled Sounds of Memory. In Maja’s words: “I believe that memories shared by one person and listened to with respect can become our memories and signposts. Through listening, we can touch and feel the history, find new meanings in the world around us and learn to be better people.
This work is my personal meditation after reading Gabor Lacko's testimony and other literature on the subject of Holocaust. It is my way to show respect to the history and the people who suffered needlessly. The testimony inspired melodies and then the fragile beauty of the falling snow changed the way the known surroundings looked, shining a new light on what I considered a given."
Edoardo Casali – Contrabassoon
Born in Bologna in 1995, Edoardo studied bassoon from the age of 16 in Bologna with Lorenzo Bettini, graduating with top marks in 2015. He then studied at the RNCM in Manchester (MMus, PGDip) with Stefano Canuti and Roberto Giaccaglia, graduating with Distinction. He’s currently studying Composition at the “Giuseppe Verdi” Conservatoire in Milan.
Edoardo has chosen to play The Bass Nightingale by the Czech composer Erwin Schulhoff - A communist as well as a Jew - who lost his life in a concentration camp in 1942. The piece begins with a short, absurdist German text, which sardonically praises the merits of the contrabassoon over the ever-popular tones of the violin. Schulhoff held some very avant-garde and anti-establishment views, and was far-left in his politics. By choosing to write for the most outlandish solo instrument he could think of, The Bass Nightingale is a witty musical protest against the artistic and social conventions of the day.
Edoardo says: “Since my earliest days in Italy, when I was only in elementary school, I've been always involved in all sort of events during International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It's a topic that we feel closely here, having been not only part of the Axis during WWII, but also closely involved with the deportation and systematic extermination of thousands of Italian Jews from the whole peninsula. It makes me feel so lucky that, even after 75 years we are able to hear directly from the people involved the unspeakable truths of what extremist ideologies like Nazi-socialism, Fascism and Communism have done to humanity during the course of the 20th century. What I really think is important and what I pledge in Gabor Lacko’s name is, when the opportunity to perform live in front of an audience returns, to be mindful of the importance of reminding our audiences to respect the difference of opinions we hold, regardless of how well can we express our concerns or our solutions to problems. I believe that we have a duty - as artists - to remind our audiences of the power of civil and constructive discourse: a tool that we employ every time we enter a rehearsal room and prepare a concert all together. Let's all make use of it, as a society."
"In Gabor Lacko's name we pledge to share his testimony and be the light in the darkness by encouraging random acts of kindness in the community. We will do this by setting different monthly themes which will determine the acts of kindness. There will be a board where people can record acts of kindness they have given and/or received.
"Our long-term practical support will be to link with the local Food Bank."
Gabor was born in Hungary in 1931.
In 1944, within 72 hours of the German occupation of the town, Gabor and his family had to move into the Debrecen Ghetto and work in the brick factory.
His family was later taken to Strasshof in Austria, Sitzenberg-Reidling and then to Vienna, where Gabor worked in an anti-aircraft gun factory. Liberated by the Russians, on returning home the family were eventually re-united with their father.
Gabor became an engineer and moved to England in 1956.
“Hate is no solution to anything.”