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ELYSIUM | RESISTANCE: PERSECUTED BUT NOT SILENCED
THURSDAY, NOV 09 2017, 07:30 PM
“Resistance: Persecuted but not Silenced. A Literary-Musical Collage”
For centuries artists and intellectuals have spearheaded movements and organized circles of resistance. They oppose unjust structures of power and continually remind us that our societies should advance towards more justice, more freedom and more solidarity in keeping with the ideals of reason and the enlightenment. This claim was postulated by Ludwig A. Frankl in his poem “The University” supporting the goals of the revolution of March 1848 and by Sigmund Engländer in his satirical journal “Viennese Caterwauling”.
Political resistance was especially necessary during the reign of the Austro-Fascists and Nazis, when writers such as Joseph Roth, Theodor Kramer, Ernst Waldinger and Erich Fried opposed the dictatorial regimes, and politicians (Bruno Kreisky), and especially women from all walks of live – from Lisa Gavric and Anna Hannika to Käthe Leichter, Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky and Ida Revertera (née Princess Schwarzenberg) resisted.
Today, artists such as Elfriede Jelinek and Herta Müller prompt us in their novels, plays and poems to use our own brain and thus help to keep intact a culture of open and honest debate which is of utmost importance for the functioning and survival of democracy.
This collage unites resistive texts from three centuries with musical pieces by persecuted composers (among others Max Brand, Hanns Eisler, Ernst Krenek, and Viktor Ullmann) to a plea for hope that the spirit of the enlightenment will prevail.
Concept and Introduction: Michael Lahr
Soprano: Jeannie Im
Piano: Dan Franklin Smith
Narrator: Gregorij H. von Leitis
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Michael Lahr studied philosophy at the College of Philosophy in Munich and at the Jesuit University Centre Sevres in Paris. He is author and editor of the book "The Erwin Piscator Award", and a co-author of the volume of essays "Bilder des Menschen" ("Images of Man"). In the Karl Jaspers Yearbook 2016, he published an essay on "Erwin Piscator’s work in exile in New York". As a specialist in Erwin Piscator, the founder of the political and epic theater, he curated the exhibit "Erwin Piscator: Political Theater in Exile", which so far has been seen in Bernried, New York, Catania, Salzburg, and Munich. As the program director of Elysium he has unearthed numerous works by artists who had to flee their home country under the pressure of the Nazi regime, or who were murdered. Many of these compositions were performed for the first time in concerts in Europe and the U.S. He gives introductory lectures for all Elysium programs. At the same time, he lectures regularly on questions of general social and political significance.
Jeannie Im (Soprano), started working with Elysium in 2000 as a participant of the "6th International Summer Academy". Since then she has been seen in the role of Gloria in the Italian premiere of Ernst Krenek’s "What Price Confidence" at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, co-produced by Elysium, and sung many concerts under the auspices of Elysium, featuring music by composers who were exiled or killed during World War II. With "Ullmann’s Legacy from Terezin" she went on tour through Europe. In 2005 she sang the role of Beatrice in the world-premiere of Egon Lustgarten’s opera "Dante in Exile", first at the Elysium Festival Bernried, then at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Since then she has been part of many Elysium productions, among them the musical-literary revue "The Pursuit of Happiness and Remember: For the Future". In 2014 she conceived and directed the Operetta Revue and Tribute to Marta Eggerth’s Artistry "Mein Liebeslied muss ein Walzer sein".
Dan Franklin Smith (Piano), has been working with Elysium since 1996 and served as its Music Director from 2005 until the end of June 2013. Under his musical direction Egon Lustgarten’s opera "Dante in Exile" received its world premiere at the Elysium Festival Bernried 2005. He conceived various Musical-Literary Collages, such as "A Crack in the Creation and New Beginnings: Fragments of an Era", and regularly gave piano solo recitals at the Elysium Festival Bernried. In 2008, he and Gregorij von Leïtis presented Ullmann’s musical legacy from Theresienstadt, "The Lay of Love and Death of Cornet Christoph Rilke" at a tour organized by Elysium in seven European cities.
Dan Franklin Smith made his European recital debut in 1997 just outside of Stockholm, Sweden. The following year he made his European orchestral debut in Stockholm at "Sofia Kyrkan" and was later featured on Swedish TV. A debut recording with the "Gäyle Symfoniorkester" soon followed. In 2004, he recorded two piano concerti (a premiere) by the Swiss late-romantic composer Hans Huber with the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra.
As a soloist, chamber musician and accompanist he has performed in many prestigious venues, nationally and internationally.
Gregorij von Leitis, Artistic Director of Elysium, has been working as a theatre director in Europe and the US for over 40 years. In 1985 he received the New York Theater Club Prize for this direction of Brecht's "The Jewish Wife". In 2003, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit by German President Johannes Rau. In 2016 the Austrian President Dr. Heinz Fischer bestowed the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art on him.
In 1985, Gregorij von Leitis founded the Erwin Piscator Award Society, which annually confers the Erwin Piscator Award. In 1989, Gregorij von Leitis, with the Elysium Theater Company, created the program "Theater for the Homeless". Since 1997, Gregorij von Leitis' work has emphasized staging the works of artists who were persecuted and silenced by the Nazis. He directed Ullmann's opera "The Emperor of Atlantis" in New York, the Italian premiere of Krenek's opera "What Price Confidence?", and the world premiere of Egon Lustgarten’s opera "Dante in Exile". One of Viktor Ullmann’s last works from the concentration camp Theresienstadt, "The Lay of Love and Death of the Cornet Christoph Rilke", von Leitis has performed internationally more than 50 times.