Performing Brundibár : A Children's Opera Honoring Jewish Resilience

January 27 marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This date commemorates the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and honors the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of the Nazi regime.  

In recent years, the children’s opera Brundibár by Jewish Czech composer Hans Krása has seen an increase in performances in many countries, including the United States. The story, often performed by the children of the Theresienstadt concentration camp in occupied Czechoslovakia in 1943, weaves in popular fairy tales as two siblings overcome the organ grinder Brundibár to sing in their town square and help their ill mother. This post highlights a couple of American children and youth choral organizations that have honored the Jewish community and the millions affected by Nazism by performing this significant musical work. 


Young People's Chorus of New York City, Special Program at The Museum of Jewish Heritage 

On January 29, the Young People's Chorus of New York City will perform Brundibár at The Museum of Jewish Heritage in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The performance will feature 40 singers between the ages of 8-11, a live orchestra directed by Eric Einhorn of On Site Opera, and be conducted by YPC Associate Conductor Sophia Papoulis. The program will also include musical selections by Leonard Cohen, Simon & Garfunkel, and Leonard Bernstein, conducted by YPC artistic director and founder Francisco J. Núñez.  

On bringing the performance to the stage, Francisco J. Núñez shared in a report for OperaWire, "This performance helps teach our children that we must learn about the past and understand each other's histories to be able to prepare for the future. Our choristers are also learning that, even today, we must continue to support each other and show resilience in the face of adversity." 

The performance can also be streamed live and made available for viewing on YouTube following the performance.  


National Children's Chorus, Virtual Opera Premiere and Ukraine Tribute Album

In 2022, the National Children's Chorus (NCC) presented Brundibár: Virtual Opera Premiere, available for streaming on YouTube. The project features youth from the organization's Opera Camp pilot program and the landscapes of Vail, Colorado, where filming took place, to "produce meaningful work that celebrates bravery in the face of defeat. Persistence in the face of discouragement, and victory over tyranny by the joint efforts who fight for justice," said Luke McEndarfer, artistic director and CEO of the National Children's Chorus. 

Later in September 2022, the National Children's Chorus (NCC) released BRUNDIBÁR: A CHILDREN'S TRIBUTE TO UKRAINE. The album, dedicated to the people of Ukraine, brought together NCC students and a chamber orchestra virtually to record the children’s opera on their smartphones in bedrooms and closets across the United States. 

The album is available for streaming on Spotify, Apple Music, and other music streaming platforms. 

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