Osvaldo Golijov
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Golijov creates new work for Holocaust film

Holocaust - A Music Memorial Film from Auschwitz

For many prisoners in Auschwitz, music played a unique and precious role. Several orchestras and bands were set up, made up entirely of inmates.

Amidst all the horrors, music was a part of daily life: marches were played at the camp gates as labour gangs were led out to work each morning and musicians were called on at all times of the day and night to perform for the SS and Nazi officers.

Now, in a unique tribute to the millions who died in the Nazi genocide and for the first time in its history, the museum at Auschwitz-Birkenau has allowed a number of leading musicians from around the world to come to the camps and perform in a 90-minute film shot entirely on location.

A sequence of carefully chosen music, all connected in some way with the Holocaust, will be interwoven with the powerful accounts of three survivors from the men's and women's orchestras.

The list of world-class musicians taking part in the film includes the acclaimed Russian violinist Maxim Vengerov, the American pianist Emanuel Ax and a number of international singers, including sopranos Isabel Bayrakdarian and Kate Royal, mezzo-soprano Tove Dahlberg and bass-baritone Gerald Finlay.

The Sinfonietta Krakowia and Camerata Silesia will be conducted by John Axelrod.

The film includes music from the Jewish liturgy as well as works by Chopin, Górecki, Messiaen, Viktor Ullmann and Bach.

A new work for brass and shofars (a Hebrew instrument made from animal horns) by the sought-after Jewish-Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov has been specially commissioned for the film.

"Holocaust - A Music Memorial Film" is an international endeavour, with artists coming from as far afield as Poland, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Russia.

The film is a co-production between the BBC, TVP (Poland), CBC (Canada) and ZDF (Germany).

It will be directed by the award-winning Jewish director James Kent, whose credits include The Genius of Mozart and numerous documentaries for the BBC, Channel 4 and HBO.

The executive producer is Peter Maniura and the producer is Ben Weston.

See also: BBC UK website