We are honored to share this collection of relevant work by artists who create music and art in response to oppression, fight persecution through cultural expression, embrace identity, and preserve memory.
ODESA PHILHARMONIC. IN WARTIME. January 23, 2023
Music in the darkness. RU missile strikes cause long, daily power cuts. The orchestra rehearses, and the audience fills the dark concert hall. ( Dutch TV correspondent Olaf Kerns and his team from RTL Nederlands filmed a primetime news report.) This video, however, uses local footage. An impression of wartime Odesa in Philharmonic Hall, with the Jan 23, 2023 performance of the “Adagio” from Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto ( Hobart Earle, clarinet ) as an audio backdrop.
SYMPHONY OF COURAGE. August 25, 2022
The Afghanistan National Institute of Music, the first of its kind, closed down in August 2021 as its members faced persecution from the Taliban who violently oppose all secular music. Dr. Ahmad Sarmast, the institute’s founder and leader, teams up with famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, working tirelessly to secure safe passage out of the country for the institute’s students, including its all-female orchestra. Afghanistan Symphony of Courage follows the dramatic journey of two students and sisters, Farida and Zohra, as they navigate life in hiding under the Taliban rule, and eventually make their escape to Lisbon, Portugal where they are free to make music once again.
BLUE. BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE DUTCH NATIONAL OPERA. October 20, 2022
Libretto by Tazewell Thompson
In Harlem, a black couple anticipates the birth of its first-born son, with both hope and anxiety. The mother worries about her son’s future as she watches him become a young man and enter the world of activism. Meanwhile, the father tries to open his son’s eyes to the realities of 21st century America, whilst simultaneously struggling with his own identity as a police officer; a ‘Black man in blue’. When the parents’ deepest fears come true, they have to find a way to cope with reality. Kenneth Kellogg (The Father) and Darius Gillard (The Son) share their views on portraying these roles and what they mean to them personally, while rehearsing for Blue in the studio.
BLACK GIRLS ANTHEM. PREMIERED Jan 22, 2022
OPINION: HOW CUBA’S INVESTMENT IN WRITERS AND ARTISTS CAME BACK TO HAUNT ITS REGIME. BY PARJANYA CHRISTIAN HOLTZ
In Cuba, hundreds of innocent people are in prison today because they dared to demand freedom a year ago. The “lucky” ones — including Washington Post Opinions contributor Abraham Jiménez Enoa and art historian Carolina Barrero, the subjects of our short documentary above — were forced out of their own country. Read more about this opinion on The Washington Post, July 11, 2022.
PINK FLOYD, “HEY HEY RISE UP” (APRIL 2022)
“We want to express our support for Ukraine and, in that way, show that most of the world thinks that it is totally wrong for a superpower to invade the independent democratic country that Ukraine has become,” Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour said in a statement Thursday.
The song, “Hey Hey Rise Up,” was released Friday. The music video features the band playing over Khlyvnyuk’s performance as images of the war and Ukrainian solidarity flash on the screen. Read more about this story on The Washington Post.
IN MEMORIAM . . . FROM UKRAINE (24.02.2022 – 24.03.2022)
In memory of all the victims 24.02.2022 – 24.03.2022. Music from Weinberg’s Symphony No. 21, in a live performance in Philharmonic Hall, Odesa, Ukraine. Hobart Earle conducts the Odesa Philharmonic Orchestra and Ksenia Bakhritdinova, soprano.
BEFORE LEAVING HER APARTMENT IN KYIV, SHE PLAYS HER PIANO FOR THE LAST TIME (Mar 14, 2022)
BRAVE MUSICIANS PERFORM IN FRONT OF BARRICADES PROTECTING THE OPERA HOUSE IN ODESSA
“We cherish the theater because it’s beautiful,” said theater director Nadezhda Babich. “It deserves to be treated like a living creature. This is the heart of Odessa.” Read more about this story in The Washington Post.
MARIAM (MARY) THE TALENTED PAINTER
Mariam Nihad Mohamed is 13 years old. She is from Ninawa, Iraq. Her father, who worked as a police officer, died suffering from terrorist bullets. She became an orphan, and was exposed to a car bomb in 2008 along with her mother and sister. Mariam lost the ability to move her legs because of the explosion due to a spinal injury.
For five years, Mariam lived with her family (5 individuals) in a small caravan (Baharka Camp/Iraq). The only bread winner for them is her young brother (Ayad). Her mother is struggling to make ends meet, using the salary of her late husband (may he rest in peace) and assistance from the good doers. This income is barely enough even to cover buying diapers for Mariam, as she cannot make it to the bathroom!
Mariam is still taking treatments to alleviate the effects of some of the explosion splinters remaining in her body!
Despite her disability, Mariam is going to school, but she faces difficulties with transportation, because her school inside the camp is far from her and she does not have an electric wheelchair to help her finish her school.
Mariam is a very talented painter; whenever you look at her drawings, you can feel a load of pain mixed with hope, perhaps the hearts of good people will open the door for her to improve her reality.
See examples of Mariam’s art here.
“I wish I could walk .. I wish I have a house .. I am tired of living in a caravan haunted by cold and pain. I wish everyone can see my paintings.”
Words, wishes and rights! Articulated by a sad voice from a young girl in search of a coming light brightening what is dark in her life..
In hopes that her faint voice reaches anyone looking to bring life back into an amazingly beautiful and inspiring soul.
ARTWORKS FOR FREEDOM: THE GROUNDSWELL MURALS
WHAT YOU SEE IS NOT WHO I AM was created in partnership with Groundswell Community Murals. Under the guidance of Lead Artist Nicole Schulman, 20 young people, aged 17 and 18, worked together to research, design and create a 12-panel portable installation. They learned during the process about the global epidemic of human trafficking and that their own city of New York is not immune. The teen artists hope the mural series will spark new awareness of human trafficking and inspire others to get involved in helping the many invisible people in modern day bondage. This striking exhibit was made possible with support from the Embrey Family Foundation and is available for outdoor or indoor installation.
HERE I AM, Written and Performed by Mélisande Short-Colomb. Original Musical Composition and Vocal Performance by Somi Kakoma
A native of New Orleans who began her studies at Georgetown in 2017 at the age of 63, Mélisande Short-Colomb is a direct descendant of Abraham Mahoney and Mary Ellen Queen who were among the 314 members of the group known today as the GU272, enslaved people owned and sold by the Maryland Jesuits in 1838 to rescue Georgetown University from insolvency and bankruptcy. More than an autobiographical chronicle, this ritualistic experience weaves narrative, music, and imagery, inviting the audience on an experiential journey exploring Colomb’s loving and complicated relationship with the institution that enslaved her ancestors. Interrogating uncomfortable truths, rather than offering easy answers, Here I Am challenges participants to bear witness and to reckon with their own histories, and to imagine the future of racial justice in America.
2081, ADAPTATION OF HARRISON BERGERON BY KURT VONNEGUT
A short film adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron”, 2081 depicts a dystopian future in which, thanks to the 212th Amendment to the Constitution and the unceasing vigilance of the United States Handicapper General, everyone is “finally equal….” The strong wear weights, the beautiful wear masks and the intelligent wear earpieces that fire off loud noises to keep them from taking unfair advantage of their brains. It is a poetic tale of triumph and tragedy about a broken family, a brutal government, and an act of defiance that changes everything.
HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS CALL TO ACTION FOR THE UYGHURS
“When we say never again, we should really mean it, and we should do something active about it.” Please listen to these Holocaust survivors’ call to action against the Chinese government’s persecution of the Uyghurs. Learn more about this effort here.
Refugees from Málaga in Almería, Spain, February 1937. © Gerda Taro © International Center of Photography/Magnum Photos
A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS
A brief story written by Nida Khan, intern for The Jüdische Kulturbund Project, about Gerda Taro and Robert Capa, two Jewish photojournalists who used their photos to fight the Fascist movement growing in Europe in the time before WWII. Click here to read the story.
I CAN’T BREATHE
The JK Project has shied away from including in our collection the current-day musicians and artists response to US issues of oppression. But it is no longer something we can avoid. Nick Cannon unleashed the reality in 3:33 minutes. May 31, 2020.
KIDS AND FAMILIES CELEBRATING EID DURING COVID-19
Two video stories from children in Yemen. Produced by To Be Or Not To Be Organization/The Little Star Project. May 2020.
Qam Hina is performed by Renata Flores, “Queen of Quechua Rap”. As reported in the The New York Times, Ms. Flores, takes on female power, government corruption, war and international pop culture polemics.
Song Around The World, “The Weight,” featuring musicians performing together across 5 continents. Great songs can travel everywhere bridging what divides us and inspiring us to see how easily we all get along when the music plays. Produced by Playing For Change. They give special thanks to Cambria® for helping to make this possible and to Robbie Robertson, Ringo Starr and all the musicians for joining in celebrating 50 years of this classic song.
WE MADE THE BOMB
Created by “Breaking Musics”, a partnership between Sri Lankan musicians Ajith Kumarasiri and Namini Panchala, this conceptual short film highlights gender-discrimination perpetuated by governmental, military and religious establishments.
AMIRI AG ABDOULAYE
The Washington Post story of Amiri Ag Abdoulaye, 18, who fled horrific violence in Mali. Now in one of the last safe havens in Burkina Fas, he finds escape through dance.
One Love – Bob Marley | Tower of David. On June 14th, 2018, in honor of the historic visit to Israel by Indonesia’s religious leader Sheikh Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf, Koolulam invited 1,000 people who had never met before to a special event at the Tower of David in Jerusalem, to sing one song, in three languages and in three-part vocal harmony. The event was produced in conjunction with the Tower of David Museum and Jerusalem.Com.
CBS 60 Minutes reports about the work of Franceso Lotro who has spent 30 years recovering, cataloging and performing music written by prisoners in Nazi concentration camps. See the entire segment here.
HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR BAND
This short documentary profiles two elderly Holocaust survivors in Florida who recently formed their own Klezmer band. Produced by: Joshua Z Weinstein Read the story here.
A PRAYER FOR MARTA
In the spring of 1968, people in Czechoslovakia enjoyed a loosening of political and cultural restrictions, a time known as the Prague Spring. Unfortunately, the Prague Spring lasted only a few months. 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, a movement that restored freedom and democracy to Czechoslovakia in 1989. The song A Prayer for Marta, written by singer and freedom fighter, Marta Kubišová, became the anthem of occupied Czechoslovakia. Marta helped lead the Velvet Revolution and sang her famous ballad A Prayer for Martha on November 21st from a balcony above Wenceslas Square on November 21, 1989 (documented in the video above). Thousands gathered to hear Marta sing the song of freedom, which also marked her return to stage. To learn more about Marta, click here.
ANA FI CAMP
Written by artists, Ougly Facile & Tonic Y4, this is a well-known inspiration song in South Sudan that talks about how people are suffering in the refugee camp. Produced by 5ve Make Visio Media (2017).
Written by Tom Minter, directed by Dione Joseph, and produced by JK Productions: He Korero Ngā Tahi, AMERICA REX is a story about power, politics and personalities colliding in an epic drama that calls for a return to indigenous ways of knowing and belonging. Led by a diverse cast of New Zealand talent this is multi-disciplinary collaborative production that invites the audience to imagine a different present — or relinquish ourselves to an inevitable future.
This important project recognizes our communities need to come together to grapple with a changing landscape, to understand our responsibility to Papatuanuku and to respectfully filter the wisdom of the ages to our present. Our change is present, our power is now, and our future is here. As citizens who believe in endless possibilities — it is our time to speak out.
Directed by Sundance award-winner Rob Fruchtman, MOVING STORIES follows six diverse dancers from Dancing to Connect to India, Romania, Korea, and Iraq, documenting their process of teaching choreography and collaboration for performance within a week, while capturing the struggle, frustration, determination, and transformation of students and teachers.
Battery Dance Company, founded by Jonathan Hollander, created Dance to Connect, in which his dancers travel around the world to encourage youth who experienced war, poverty, sexual violence, persecution, and severe trauma to express their feelings and stories through dance.
ANATABAN’S BLACK TIDE official music video launched on April 23, 2019 to raise awareness on the disadvantages of oil pollution in South Sudan’s oil drilling sites. Children are born without limbs, others with three legs while others extremely deformed.
ANATABAN is a campaign and movement started by young South Sudanese creatives to support the ‘taban/tired’ people of South Sudan.
CAMERA KIDS, a documentary film currently in production by GroundTruth Films, tells the story of Gadi Habumugisha, Bizimana Jean, and Mussa Uwitonze, three orphans of the Rwandan genocide. While growing up in the Imbabazi Orphanage, they learned from David Jiranek, along with other kids, how to take photographs . Today Gadki, Bizimana, and Mussa are professionals photographers. When they are not taking photographs, they work with Through the Eyes of Children to teach vulnerable kids how to express themselves through the camera lens.
CAMERA KIDS was featured on PBS News Hour on April 5, 2019 to mark the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide when nearly 800,000 people were massacred, leaving just under 100,00 children without parents. Nearly 75% of the Tutsi people were killed. According to the Washington Post, Rwanda’s third and smallest ethnic group, the Twa were also victims of the genocide. About 10,000 Twa people were killed and another 10,000 became refugees.
MASS FOR THE OPPRESSED
MASS FOR THE OPPRESSED was written by Alaskan composer Emerson Eads in response to the release of four Native Alaskans, known as The Fairbanks Four, from prison after eighteen years of wrongful incarceration. They were released in December of 2015 with no chance to seek any reparations from the state of Alaska.
When accepting our request to share “Mass for the Oppressed” with us, Emerson wrote, “Indeed oppression is oppression, no matter if it is in Alaska, or in Eastern Europe, and any attempt to draw attention to marginalized groups, combines the voices of oppressed and makes them harder to ignore.”
Patricia Hall, a music theory professor at the University of Michigan, unearthed music manuscripts arranged and performed by prisoners at Autschwitz-Birkenau in Poland. The full story was published by NPR on December 2, 2018.
THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE. THE ART OF ESTHER NISENTHAL KRINITZ
A Holocaust survivor’s remembrances in uniquely beautiful stitched images and vivid accounts bring an uplifting life story to the screen. More than 40 years after the Holocaust, Esther Nisenthal Krinitz depicted her remarkable story of survival through a stunningly beautiful series of 36 fabric collage and embroidery panels. Through Esther’s own words and images of her artwork, as well as interviews with her daughters and others,this 30-minute film explores the capacity of the human heart to heal. Through these reflections, we are reminded that genocide and acts of baseless hatred are still with us, and that Esther’s story, and those like hers, compel us to build a just and peaceful world for all. Written, produced and directed by Nina Shapiro-Perl; an Art and Remembrance production. To learn more about Esther Krinitz, including information about exhibits and events, and to buy the DVD, visit artandremembrance.org.
COMING FULL CIRCLE
Margot S. Neuhaus shares tells us about COMING FULL CIRCLE, an exhibit of her artwork in two series, “In Memoriam” and “Light Motives”. “Coming Full Circle” was exhibit at the Galicia Museum and the Jewish Community Center in Krakow, Poland as part of the Jewish Culture Festival, June 23-July 1, 2018.
Pittsburgh producer Jose Muniain shared with us his story of poet Huang Xiang, considered to be the pre-eminent post cultural revolution poet of China.Huang Xiang was born in Hunan Province, China, in 1941. His unceasing bravery, in the face of sure re-imprisonment, and further torture, forced him to leave his homeland.
Huang began writing poems in the 1950s and has been imprisoned repeatedly for his work. In 1978, he founded “Enlightenment,” the first underground writers’ society, and started a literary magazine with the same title. In exile in the United States since 1997, he was also a resident poet in Pittsburgh under the Cities of Asylum program for writers.
TODAY WE SING
Produced in 2016, TODAY WE SING is a music video, directed by Yousef Nateel, that shows us the realities of life in the Gaza Strip. As described by teifidancer, the music video shows us a place “where electricity flows for just eight hours each day, in this open prison where 1.8 million Palestinians are now contained. Many young Gazan musicians and singers are starved of permanent performance spaces, but despite bombardment, explosions, rockets, violence, struggle, terror, borders, all these restrictions, increasingly many are now using the internet to display their talents and share their messages of hope, peace, and freedom to the world.”
Sweden’s Riksteatern Värmland (the Rik), the National Touring Theater of Sweden, implemented the project to teach 17 participants music theory and music production. These young musicians who are unable to find jobs in the Gaza Strip, paid with the little money they had for their musical efforts. Thanks to the support of the Rik who provided the project with portable studios, these young musicians can share music on social media so that others may hear their songs. This documentary tells their story.