I’m no musician and I wouldn’t know a forte from a fugue. And if someone calls me a grazioso, I’d object most strongly! However, despite my musical illiteracy, I came across something very special the other day – something that transcends my limited musical understanding and touches me on a completely different level.

I met a lady by the name of Sharon Farber online, an Israeli-born award winning composer who has been nominated for an Emmy twice. Sharon had met Curt Lowens, a Holocaust survivor who became a hero of the Dutch Resistance where he saved over 100 Jewish children, as well as saving the lives of two American pilots who were forced to eject from their plane over occupied Holland. And feeling inspired by Curt’s story, she used her considerable talent to compose a musical composition called BESTEMMING- Concerto for Cello, Narrator and Orchestra - in dedication to Curt’s life.

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 But it was more than just that, because his story provided that spark of inspiration that led to a project, called The Bestemming Project, which she with her partner Richard Stellar started, a project with the following mission statement: 

"Our mission was clear: To fight anti-Semitism through music and the arts. We are inspired by Curt Lowens and the stories of other Holocaust survivors whose experiences inspires all people who are facing or have faced the darkness of oppression. Through music and the arts we are able to enhance that message, and present it in a non-threatening way that is understood by all.”


And as I listened to the concerto, having learnt so much about what inspired it and what went into it, it dawned on me that I wasn’t using my ears to listen to the music playing through the speakers on my computer. Because the music was not really about notes and bars and keys – it was about telling a story. And it was a story of pain. And loss. And sadness. And suffering. And agony. And as the music continued… interwoven by Curt’s own voice, the story changed direction and it became one of steely determination. And courage. And resistance. And finding a strength in a place where humanity had been ripped away. But ultimately… it was about triumph. Not just the triumph of Curt, but the triumph of the human spirit – to be able to emerge from the shadows of hell, and rise again.

Heroism is a term that is often thrown around quite casually. We use it to refer to sporting stars or movie stars or tv stars or musicians or writers, but while we can admire and appreciate the talent we witness, we cannot ever forget what being a hero truly means. There are generations today of people that live and breathe and smile and laugh and love. And they exist because of the actions of Curt Lowens – a man who could easily have disappeared into a pit of darkness, but instead chose to fight that darkness with his own light. 

Listening to Sharon’s concerto made me think of all the voices that had been snuffed out through hatred, and yet despite them having fallen silent so long ago, they still continue to speak. You can still hear them, whispering in your ears, inspiring you to speak for them, to provide that message to the world they could no longer provide themselves.  

And through this musical composition, life was breathed again into the souls of long ago, so that we can hear the voices once more – the voices that spoke across the ages. 

We may not hear their words with our ears, but we feel their voices with our souls.

www.bestemmingproject.org/ 

For more information and to see the concerto itself, click on the link above.
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