From Horror to Harmony

The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay
Offers a Musical Vision of
the Diary of Anne Frank

March 1-2
St Pete and Tampa
Details here

When American troops freed the remaining, skeletal prisoners of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in April 1945, Annelies Marie Frank had been dead less than a month.

Had she not succumbed to typhus fever, piqued by the intolerable conditions of the compound, she might have lived to tell her story in person. But her account is alive in her famous diary, which remains an important document of the Nazi Holocaust − and a testament to the indomitable spirit of a 15-year-old.

“It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality,’’ she wrote shortly before her capture by the Germans.

“It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals; they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.’’

Millions have read excerpts like this from the Diary of Anne Frank, a record that lends itself to self-reflection and interpretation by each passing generation. One such vision unfolds through music when the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay presents Annelies, an adaptation of the diary as a large-scale choral work.

“There are a million reasons to do this piece,” says Matthew Abernathy, artistic director of the chorus. “There are scary reports about people in high school that don’t even know the Holocaust happened. In light of many of the other conflicts going on right now, it’s important for them to know about it – because it’s all the more relevant today.’’

Frank wrote her diary between 1942 and 1944 when she and her family hid from the Germans in an Amsterdam warehouse. Although frightened by what was unfolding, she also found solace in the view from a window, where the Sun, clouds and sky offered relief from the horrors below.

“Her story is so amazing because it’s looking at a complicated event in history through the eyes of a prescient child,’’ Abernathy adds. “It reminds us of the dangers of fascism and populism, of the dangers of leaving things unchecked.’’

Annelies is a 75-minute choral work for soprano soloist, 120-voice choir and small instrumental ensemble, with music by James Whitbourn and libretto by Melanie Challenger. The piece consists of 14 sections that document Frank’s diary entries, from the plan to go into hiding to her final meditation. The two Master Chorale performances are in collaboration with the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg.

Although the diary and choral translation depict one of the most grim hours of history, it includes moments of peace and reassurance.

“The music is powerful but it’s not altogether depressing,’’ Abernathy says. “It’s all the more immediate because it’s so unfiltered. Remember that this is a teenager writing this, and it seems as if she could see the future.’’

Also on the program is the premiere of Oraciones by Florida composer Nico Gutierrez, who wrote the work on a commission by the Master Chorale.


Master Chorale of Tampa Bay
Friday, March 1 at 8 pm
First Presbyterian Church
701 Beach Dr. NE
St. Petersburg FL 33701
Saturday, March 2 at 8 pm
New Tampa Performing Arts Center
8550 Hunters Village Road
Tampa FL 33647
Ticket information here

The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay – Brett Karlin, Artistic Director; Awake and Sing, Lake Magdalene United Methodist Church 2018

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