A RHAPSODY ARISES FROM A PERSONAL HORROR
Our story starts with Leo Spellman, who, after WW II, was in a Displaced Persons Camp in Germany. He had escaped the Ghetto early on in the war, and was hidden by a Polish student during the last 18 months of the war. It was in the DP Camp that he wrote his most powerful composition - "Rhapsody 1939 -1945". This stirring piece of music brought to life the horrors of war, the depth of suffering, and in the final denouement, the promise of hope for a world ravaged by overwhelming atrocities. Leo used the power of music to chronicle his experience and bring to life the terror and the fear that he lived through.
This piece was played in the Camp in 1947.
It was not heard again for over 50 years.
A RHAPSODY RISES FROM THE ASHES OF WAR
In 2016, I had the good fortune to arrange this music for Concert Band. In arranging the composition, I could hear Leo's passion as he wrote a chilling, but ultimately uplifting story of surviving the Holocaust. He relives the past in every bar of music. At the beginning of the piece, you can hear the jackboots, the troops marching, the knock on the door in the middle of the night. The second section of this piece profiles the depths of sorrow and despair, and perhaps, Leo seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. In the third and final section of his piece, Leo showed remarkable foresight when he added a musical quote from a Jewish folk song known as Hatikvah that later (1948) became the anthem for the state of Israel.
HELP BRING THE MUSIC BACK TO LIFE
I am now in the process of bringing this music back to life, and I need your support. I have worked on the score for the last year, and it has been an emotional journey. This is one of the most poignant and sincere pieces of music composed about World War II. We need to hear Leo’s music because it reminds us about the horrors of war, and what can happen when hatred gets out of control - and yet it instills a sense of hope. With this work, we can see how history comes alive through the power of music. This is the human experience writ large, in one of its most eloquent forms. Holocaust survivors are dying, but it is important to keep their experience alive. You can feel the barbarity of war in this piece. The music is passionate, and written from the heart.
I don’t want Leo’s music, his thoughts, his experiences, or his music to be forgotten. This project needs your financial support to help people remember. This project needs your financial support to bring this piece of music into the public realm for all to hear. Your support is needed to make sure this page of history stays open, so future generations can learn from it. Your contribution will ensure that these musicians can help keep Leo's voice alive. Leo's music should be heard by everyone. His experiences should continue to leave a lasting impression. Your contribution means you will be part of the Concert Band World Premiere; a work that will continue to be heard in the years to come.
THE CONCERT IS READY TO GO!
THE POWER OF THE MUSIC
I have put together a very special concert band for this project, and have hand picked the best musicians in the Toronto area to be part of this ensemble. They are all lead players in various orchestras, concert bands, and jazz bands. Band members’ accomplishments include: winning a Juno award, conducting a symphonic orchestra, playing onstage for Adele. A lot of effort and practice has, and will continue to go into this music. Your contribution will help this music be heard around the world. Your donation will go towards paying the musicians, as well as paying a sound engineer, and videographer who will make a permanent record of the performance for future generations. We will be performing live in Toronto during Jewish Music Week in May of 2017. I know this will be one of the highlights of the Festival.
THE STORY BEHIND THE MUSIC
After the war, Leo immigrated to Canada, and for many years, he ran the premier dance band on the Toronto scene.
And then in 2002, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, the museum hosted a conference called “Life Reborn”. It was there that Henry Beigleman, one of the original performers in the Rhapsody, remembered Leo’s piece, and suggested that the organizers contact Leo and try to resurrect the music. Brett Werb, the Museum’s musicologist flew to Toronto, and found the music in a suitcase in Leo’s garage. It had not seen the light of day since 1947.
In 2011, Leo asked Paul Hoffert (Lighthouse) to help him re-orchestrate the original work. Paul Hoffert also incorporated some of Leo’s father’s original work into the arrangement, as well as some themes that Leo had previously written. Together, they worked for six months reconstructing the music, expanding the work to a length of 24 minutes. When it was performed at the Ashkenaz Festival in 2012, Leo was present to see this performance for a standing-room only audience.
....."and nobody knew that he’d written major pieces of music in the 20th century.”
Last year, I was asked to re-arrange the work for Concert Band. I was very excited to do this. I have spent the last year re-orchestrating this piece for Concert Band, and it is now ready to be performed.
COMING SOON - THE PERFORMANCE!
From the photos, you can see we have already been rehearsing the music. Our performance date during Jewish Music Week has been set:
May 28, 3:00 pm
St. Paul's Basilica
83 Power St. Toronto, Ontario
We have more rehearsals in April and May where I will fine tune the band. All levels of donations go directly to completing this project. Your donation will help me not only fund this group of musicians, but also help share Leo’s music with the world. Funds will go towards paying the musicians, as well as hiring a videographer and sound technician to record this important event for the future. I am offering special rewards for higher donations, ranging from front row seats at the concert, to copies of the original score - conductor's notes and all. Being part of this project means you are helping bring this music to life, and you are sharing in bringing this important message of memory and hope to the world.
You can help the message get posted EVERYWHERE!
Visit my webpage, where you can find more information about the band, and view pictures and biographies of the musicians:
Risks and challenges
Kickstarter is an all or nothing campaign. This means that we only receive your pledges if our final goal is reached. Please help bring this music to the world by sharing this page with your friends and relatives. Please give generously to our cause. Thank you.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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