Symphony Explores Holocaust Themes

Ambition and distinctiveness continue to mark the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony, which presented a fascinating concert on Sunday night at the Norman J. Pattiz Auditorium of Hamilton High School in Los Angeles. The focus of this orchestra, culled from top-drawer musicians, is on music by Jewish composers, many of whom emigrated here from Europe and did much of their creating in Los Angeles.

Titled "From Exile to Emigrant," the concert had a strong theme, mostly dealing with the Holocaust, which bound together diverse musical elements. In what other context would one hear Arnold Schoenberg's "A Survivor From Warsaw," a dramatic serial piece from 1947, along with Franz Waxman's agreeably romantic score for the 1960 film "The Story of Ruth"?

KABC talk radio host Dennis Prager effectively delivered the text with Schoenberg's score, which was neatly articulated by the orchestra, with interjections from a men's chorus. Prager also handled the text for "The Dachau Lied," a poignant, Kurt Weill-esque piece by under-sung musical hero Herbert Zipper. Zipper (1904-1997) was a concentration camp survivor, and a dynamic personality, who taught and worked in Los Angeles for many years.

Also on the program was "Song of Songs," by onetime UCLA-based composer Lukas Foss. It's a likable enough neoclassical piece written in 1947, before his radical days, sung here with point by soprano Diana Tosh.

Throughout, music director Noreen Green led a sharp orchestra seemingly up for any challenge, including mustering the requisite, cinematic lushness for the Waxman--cellist Barry Gold serving as a lustrous soloist. In the process, the concert told the story of both the lingering pain of the Holocaust and the musical saga of postwar Los Angeles.

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