Categories: Regional Date: Apr 16, 2012 Title: St. Mary Parish hosts Interfaith Holocaust Memorial Concert
(Photo courtesty of Western New England University)
By Peggy Weber
LONGMEADOW -- Almost 200 people gathered April 15, on a glorious spring afternoon, for an Interfaith Holocaust Memorial Concert at St. Mary Church, here.
The idea for the concert, was conceived by Rabbi Jerome Gurland of Western New England University in Springfield.
"I read the book Sir Gilbert Levine:The Pope's Maestro. I saw the details of the concert that they sponsored at the Vatican in 1994 and I said that if it could happen in the Vatican, then it could happen in St. Mary's Church in Longmeadow," said Rabbi Gurland, pictured above left, with Father Francis E. Reilly, pastor of St. Mary's.
Rabbi Gurland then attended a concert which featured John Hanifin, a gifted cellist from Longmeadow. "After I heard John play, I decided that we were going to pursue this (interfaith concert) in our community."
Father Reilly was delighted with the idea. He said he has a great respect for Rabbi Gurland and had just attended a Seder Supper with him. He also noted that it is good to have Hanifan return to the parish.
"John is a member of our parish. We've seen John gow up through the years and we're delighted that he's become all that he is today," said Father Reilly.
Hanifin, holds a bachelor's degree in music from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. He continues his study of the cello with Mihail Jojatu and will recieve a master of music degree this June. He began the concert with the haunting strains of "Kol Nidrei Opus 47" by Max Bruch. This is the music for the evening of the Day of Atonement in the Jewish religon.
He was accompanied on the piano in the first half of the program by Klaus Becker, the director of music at St. Mary's.
In the second half, Anna Volovitch, a recent graduate of the Longy School of Music of Bard College, played the piano. A native of Russia, she won second prize in the Indonesia Pusaka International piano competiton.
The music was first class but the focus of the concert was even more compelling.
"I hope that the people will be more aware of the fact that there was a Holocaust and the generation of survivors is dwindling," said Rabbi Gurland. "We've got to tell the story to all of the people so that this cannot happen again. But they have to know what happened in order to say never again," he said.
Father Reilly said that remembering the Holocaust was paramount. "As Rabbi would say, we hope that it would never happen again. I know in my travels, I've been to Majdanek in Poland and to Auschwitz and Birkenau, and I know it's just an atrocity that should never happen again," he said.
Father Reilly added that he felt great peace while listening to Hanifan and the other musicians.
To hear the beautiful music made at the Intefaith Holocaust Memorial Concert, watch "Real to Reel" on WWLP-22NEWS on April 21 at 7 p.m.