“I wondered: why does the pure paper of children’s souls have to pass from a young age through the rolling press of life and society, which imprints it with all sorts of qualities and crushes it under the pressure of worries about livelihood and the attacks of enemies. […]
The world is a rumpus, if you look at it objectively.”
–Petr Ginz, excerpt from the unfinished novel The Secret of Satan’s Grotto*
Join the Downwind Quintet for an evening of music, storytelling, and reflection.
The Downwind Quintet’s original interdisciplinary concert experience, Petr’s Moon: A Theatre-Recital for Wind Quintet, weaves together narration, poetry, and film projection in a powerful live performance recounting the lives and art of those who perished in the Holocaust.
The recital imagines a meeting of minds: that of Pavel Haas (1899-1944), the brilliant Czech composer who continued to make music amid the hardships of Terezín concentration camp; and of Petr Ginz (1928-1944), the fourteen-year-old diarist whose clever short stories and detailed accounts of everyday life leavened the oppressive world of Terezín through the creative and curious eye of a child.
Throughout the performance, members of the quintet read from Petr’s diary, poems, and stories, leading from ACT I: BEFORE — before deportation and internment, Petr’s quotidian narrative of an increasingly dangerous Prague — to ACT II: AFTER — within the walls of Terezín, where a flourishing output of art, music, and poetry provided heartening escape from harsh reality.
Central to the performance are two monumental musical works: Pavel Haas’ Wind Quintet, Op. 10 (1929), an alternately solemn, sunny, and strident soundtrack to BEFORE; and Terezín, a brand-new commission by emerging Mexican composer Cristóbal MarYán to inhabit AFTER. MarYán’s work draws inspiration from Haas’ Quintet, and incorporates poetry written by children interned at Terezín.
The Downwind Quintet conceived Petr’s Moon with the goal of engaging audiences in a meaningful, musical, and accessible conversation about the Holocaust, and the social and political conditions that caused it. We developed the project in collaboration with religious leaders and educators from the Montreal community, and strove to pose these important questions: In what ways is Petr’s story still relevant today? How can music help us learn to understand and welcome “Other” people and cultures, beyond walls and borders?
A teacher’s curriculum guide, “Music as a Vehicle for Holocaust Education,” is available upon request. The document includes a suggested discography of music by Jewish composers as well as works by marginalized composers and artists from around the world. Please visit our Contact page and include the age range of your students so we can send you the most relevant packet!
The debut performance of Petr’s Moon took place on April 25, 2017 in Tanna Schulich Hall, on the campus of McGill University, Montreal. This project was generously funded by the 2016-17 Schulich School of Music International Grant Writing Competition — Master’s Performance Award.
*As printed in The Diary of Petr Ginz, 1941-1942, edited by Chava Pressburger, translated by Elena Lappin. New York: Grove Press, 2007.
Pictured: Moon Landscape (1942-44) by Petr Ginz. Courtesy of Yad Vashem Art Museum, Jerusalem; via University of Florida.