Michael Tilson Thomas' "From the Diary of Anne Frank," commissioned by UNICEF, received its premiere in Philadelphia in 1990, with the composer conducting the Miami-based New World Symphony, which he had led since its inception two years earlier. The narrator was Audrey Hepburn, who had originally read and suggested passages for the piece to the now 48-year-old composer.
Hepburn, who died at 63 in January, had suffered from malnutrition as a teen-ager during World War II in Nazi-occupied Holland, the same country in which Anne Frank and her family lived and went into hiding before being discovered and sent to concentration camps.
As an adult, Hepburn, in addition to a brilliant acting career, became an international advocate for children's rights, serving as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF beginning in 1988.
Kathy Bates (the actress best known for her Oscar-winning performance in "Misery") will be the narrator when Carl St.Clair conducts the "Diary" today with the Pacific Symphony, opening the Pacific's new season this week at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. The program also includes Beethoven's "Leonore" Overture No. 3 and Dvorak's "New World" Symphony.
Tilson Thomas' piece is divided into four parts and lasts approximately 35 minutes. It begins with Anne's dedication of the diary to an imaginary "real friend" because, she writes, "I have no such real friend."
The middle sections cover the Nazis' increasingly restrictive laws against and persecutions of the Jews, the Frank family's going into hiding, and Anne's growing awareness of nature and her own burgeoning adolescence.
The final section begins with her writing, "I want to go on living even after my death."
Tilson Thomas was recently appointed music director of the San Francisco Symphony, to begin in 1995. This week, he was in Israel opening the Israel Philharmonic season with "Diary" and works by Mahler.
In a program note for the work, the composer has written: "While some of the words concern tragic and inhuman events, a great many of them nevertheless reflect the youthful, optimistic, inquisitive and compassionate spirit of their author. Above all, I wanted these qualities to come through in the piece and so have derived all the themes of this work from that most beautiful of hymns to life, the Kaddish."
Kaddish is a one of the primary Jewish prayers in praise of God.
Carl St.Clair leads the Pacific Symphony in Michael Tilson Thomas' "From the Diary of Anne Frank."
Thursday, Oct. 7,
at 8 p.m.
The Orange County Performing Arts Center, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa.
San Diego (405) Freeway to Bristol Avenue exit north. Go right on Town Center Drive.
$14 to $39, with $8 tickets possibly available for students and seniors citizens 90 minutes before show time.
Where to call
(714) 755-5799, or (714) 740-2000 (TicketMaster).