Folksinger Revisits Songs of the Holocaust in Free Performance

Thursday, April 21, 2005 - 12:00pm

For immediate release
April 21, 2005

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. - In observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom HaShoah, musicologist and folksinger Jerry Silverman will perform songs of the Holocaust at 7 PM on Thursday, May 5, in Rooke Theatre at Mount Holyoke College. The program is free, and the public is welcome. Doors open at 6:30.

Silverman's hour-long program combines songs and readings from The Undying Flame: Ballads and Songs of the Holocaust, a collection of 110 rare songs in 16 languages, historical notes, and survivor testimonies. The audience will be led on an eight-decade journey from the first Lager-Lied (concentration camp song) - composed in the Börgermoor concentration camp in Germany in 1933 - through the events leading up to the Holocaust, across the wartime years, and up to the present. The songs sing of despair, hope, rage, resistance, and even humor in the face of the unspeakable.

Silverman, one of America's outstanding folksingers and guitar teachers, is among the most prolific authors of music books. His more than 200 books include folksong collections, anthologies, and method books for guitar, banjo, and fiddle.

"With titles like 'I Have No Native Land,' 'Close Your Little Eyes,' 'Song of the River Bug' and 'My Mother Wanted So to See My Wedding Day,' the 110 songs in The Undying Flame are both epic and personal," wrote the New York Times in 2002. "Mr. Silverman sought out material in places like the Memorial to the Unknown Jewish Martyr in Paris, finding piles of poems, 'which were obviously once songs.' Some he set to music himself, using traditional melodies. Others came from survivors whom he met during his eight years of research."

The program is sponsored by the departments of Jewish studies, music, and theatre; the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life; the Dean of Faculty's office; and the Jewish Student Union.

Yom HaShoah begins at sundown on Thursday, May 5.