Community Engagement

The Holocaust Music Project



This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In 2014 as part of the Da Camera of Houston Young Artist Program, Ms. Klein implemented the Holocaust Music Project that combatted bullying while bringing to life musical works by composers who lost their lives during World War II. Holocaust Museum Houston generously provided Ms. Klein with the opportunity to attend its 2014 Max M. Kaplan Summer Institute where she heard from internationally known scholars and educators of the Holocaust and other genocides, as well as survivors of the Holocaust in preparation for classroom visits for the Holocaust Music Project. After the Holocaust Music Project’s success through the Da Camera of Houston Young Artist Program, Ms. Klein received a grant from the American Harp Society’s Grant Program to continue the project during the 2015-16 school year.

The Holocaust Music Project weaves together Ms. Klein’s paternal grandparent’s story of survival as Hungarian Jews living through the Holocaust with that of composer Ilse Weber, a woman who was interred at Theresienstadt and ultimately perished at Auschwitz. Music of Ilse Weber is performed by Ms. Klein on harp accompanied by a vocalist, to demonstrate Weber’s day to day hopes, fears, and struggles during World War II. Following the presentation, poetry exercises ensue in the image of Ilse Weber’s work and students share their poetry for their classmates with the accompaniment of harp music.  Students are presented with prompts such as:

  1. How did the life story and music and poetry of Ilse Weber make you feel? Can you relate to her in any way?
  2. Why do you love your favorite song or musical artist? Do they stand for morals that you support? What would a world without their music look like?
  3. How has music helped you during a difficult situation? Can music be used for both positive and negative purposes? How can you ensure that you will use it to promote a positive environment?

Following the poetry exercise, selected student’s poems were chosen as text for new compositions written by composer’s Tommy Dougherty and Hilary Purrington. Dougherty’s composition “Songs for Ilse” is written for harp and mezzo-soprano, and Purrington’s work “Little Flowers” is comprised of  harp, mezzo-soprano, and flute. Dougherty’s music was shared with the Houston community at the 2015 Yom HaShoah Memorial and Purrington’s music was performed in 2017 at a Yom HaShoah Memorial house concert and the Center for Performing Arts Medicine at Houston Methodist Hospital. Student’s from Hastings High School (Alief ISD) and Wharton Dual Language Academy (HISD) have participated in The Holocaust Music Project.

As the Holocaust survivor population is aging and slowly passing, Ms. Klein hopes that she can  continue to be the next generation that shares this important piece of history. If you are interested in bringing the Holocaust Music Project to your community, school, home, or other venue, Ms. Klein would be delighted to work with you. Please contact Ms. Klein here.