Santa Fe Symphony salutes three Jewish composers

The Santa Fe Symphony will honor three of the world’s greatest Jewish composers at the Lensic Performing Arts Center on Sunday, Feb. 17.

Mary Wilson

Symphony concertmaster David Felberg will take center stage to perform Bruce Adolphe’s Concerto for Violin (“I will not remain silent”), a passionate retelling of the life of the rabbi Joachim Prinz.

Prinz grew up in Germany and very early recognized the threat posed by Hitler and the Nazis. He spoke out vigorously, warning Jews of the imminent danger and encouraging them to protect themselves.

Expelled from Germany in 1937, he came to the U.S., where he committed himself to the civil rights movement with equal fervor. He was an organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, where he spoke before Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. He warned that “the most urgent, the most disgraceful and most tragic problem is silence.”

David Felberg

“Bruce was a classmate of mine at Juilliard,” conductor Guillermo Figueroa said. “Bruce is related to Prinz. I thought it would be a perfect piece for David (Felberg).”

Felberg is the son of the late Santa Fe Symphony concertmaster Leonard Felberg, to whom the concert is dedicated. Leonard Felberg was concertmaster for 25 years, Figueroa said.

“Bruce Adolphe is coming to the concert,” he added. “He’ll take part in the pre-concert lecture.”

John Williams’ haunting theme from “Schindler’s List” follows. The 1993 movie told the story of Oskar Schindler, who used his position as the head of a Krakow enamelware factory to save thousands of Jews during the Holocaust. The Steven Spielberg film won seven Academy Awards, including best original score and best picture. Williams wrote the theme specifically for violinist Itzhak Perlman. The achingly beautiful music has become one of Williams’ most frequently performed concert works.

Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 in G Major will crown the program with what has been called the composer’s “friendliest” symphony.

“It’s hard to use the word ‘short,’ but this is the smallest in conception and time,” Figueroa said. “It’s a very lyrical work.”

Soprano Mary Wilson will sing the last movement, a wide-eyed child’s vision of heaven.

Mahler based the piece on the German fairy tale “The Youth’s Magic Horn.”

“It is absolutely ravishingly beautiful,” Figueroa said. “It’s perhaps the most accessible of all the Mahler symphonies.”

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