Music at a Distance after War and Peace

A project by Anita Mishoukova and Jürgen Jürges
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Dear ladies and gentlemen,

We would like to introduce a unique project of great artistic and cultural value for which we wish to request your support. 75 years after the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, two extraordinary artists have come together to create an audio-visual project: the internationally celebrated violinist Anita Mishoukova and the legendary cinematographer Jürgen Jürges (“Ali: Fear Eats the Soul” and “Effie Briest” by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, “Funny Games” by Michael Haneke, and “Faraway, So Close” by Wim Wenders). On the site of the present-day Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum the artists will record and film a powerful selection of music, combining the work of composers whose lives and deaths were directly affected by the Nazi atrocities with contemporary music written in the current year especially for socially distanced performance. The resulting 30-minute film will allow the viewers a multi-sensory experience of the former concentration camp: through the music itself, through the inspiration of the location on the performers' interpretation, and through the professional eye of a world-renowned cinematographer, born in 1940, whose artistic vision will be enriched by his own memories of the time and its consequences.

7750 47800

Total cost of the project: 47800 EUR.
Already raised: 7750 EUR.
Every donation helps us bring this unique and worthy project to life.
The project status will be updated weekly.

The year 2020 marks 75 years since the end of the Second World War and the liberation of the largest and most notorious Nazi extermination camp – Auschwitz-Birkenau. For many people 2020 is also characterized by the beginning of an unprecedented period in which conventional forms of human communication are severely challenged and in which physical distance has gained a new significance. Anita Mishoukova, concertmaster of the Essener Philharmoniker, has found an unexpected impulse in the current realities to approach the topic of the Holocaust through the performance of selected compositions in the historic location of Auschwitz: the personal distance and forced separation, in addition to the historical distance, allow us a new perspective on the tragic events of 75 years ago.

The project “Music at a Distance after War and Peace” will be realized in different locations throughout the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp: four remarkable and seldom recorded pieces will be performed and filmed by Anita Mishoukova and her musical partner Daniel Bell. The compositions include “Sequenza” by Simos Papanas (1979-), composed in April 2020 specifically for socially distanced performance, and the Duo Sonata by Mieczyslaw Weinberg (1919-1996) , the Polish-born Soviet composer of Jewish heritage who lost his family in a Nazi concentration camp.

“Music at a Distance after War and Peace” is a collaboration with the legendary cinematographer Jürgen Jürges, winner of the 2020 Silver Bear for extraordinary artistic achievement, who has worked extensively with R.W. Fassbinder and Wim Wenders, and is a multiple winner of the German Film Prize. As in Claude Lanzmann's 1985 documentary „Shoah“, blending the realistic and the poetic, the historical and the fictional, and including long panoramic shots, an audio-visual work is created by two artists who through their respective mediums show their personal sense of the events: the crimes against humanity, the tragic fate of the victims, and also the challenging psychological realities today of human distance and isolation.

“Our aim is to represent through music the psychological state of the camp inmates without using words. For generations the violin symbolized the suffering of the Jewish people. Playing music in a place of horror and death affects not only the performers but also the audience differently. Through the eyes of Jürgen Jürges people anywhere in the world can have a unique visual experience of the camp” says Anita Mishoukova. For her it is also significant that the participants in the project have diverse national backgrounds: “This allows us to embrace the project from different perspectives”.

“For me this isn't a project solely in memory of the victims of the Holocaust – it also serves as a multi-layered philosophical reflection: on the reciprocal history of this place; on the split between people and the social distance required at this time; on the horror of mass propaganda and tyranny; and on the role of art in reminding us of the fleetingness of life, the importance of history, and the necessity of goodness, love, and purity of soul”, explains the musician.

Music at a Distance after War and Peace is a project of the online streaming platform Classic at Home and is aimed not only at its own international audience, but is also intended for cinema and television.

Duo Sonata by Mieczyslaw Weinberg (1919-1996), the Polish-born Soviet composer of Jewish heritage, who suffered greatly under the Stalin regime, and lost his parents and sister in the Trawniki concentration camp. His opera “The Passenger” concerns a young Jewish girl from the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Solo Violin Sonata by Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942) the German-Bohemian composer of Jewish heritage, one of the most interesting representatives of the “new music” of the 20th century, who died in 1942 in the Wülzburg concentration camp in Bavaria.

Sequenza by Simos Papanas (1979-), the Greek composer and concertmaster of the Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra. Papanas composed this work during quarantine in April 2020, the first work to be specifically composed for socially distanced performance.

“Tango Auschwitz”, written in Auschwitz by the 12-year-old girl Irka Janowski, based ón a tango theme popular at the time, and sung by the prisoners to improve morale. Simos Papanas has arranged the Tango for two violins especially for the project “Music at a Distance after War and Peace”.

Anita Mishoukova (1982-) studied at the special music school for highly gifted children at the State Conservatory in St Petersburg, the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, the Royal Academy of Music in London, and the Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien in Hannover. Her international awards include 4th Prize and Tchaikovsky Prize at the Tchaikovsky Youth Competition in Russia, 1st Prize at the Kingsville Competition (USA), the Solti Award and the Carnegie Prize in London, and the Jürgen Selheim Prize. An internationally established artist, she has taken part in festivals including Musicorda (USA), Lockenhaus (AT), Verbier (CH), Keshet Eilon (IL) and the Holland Music Sessions. As concertmaster she works regularly with the Dortmunder Philharmoniker and the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie. She is currently 2nd Concertmaster with the Essener Philharmoniker.

Daniel Bell (1976-) studied at Chetham's School of Music in Manchester, the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and the Cleveland Institute of Music, and has become one of the most versatile chamber musicians of his generation. From 2000 to 2008 he was a member of the internationally celebrated Petersen Quartet (Berlin), with regular concerts in the world's musical capitals and an extensive discography with prizes such as the Echo-Klassik and the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik. From 2011 to 2016 he was a member of the renowned Henschel Quartet in Munich, with concert appearances in musical centres throughout Europe, America, and Japan, and is currently 1st violinist of the Mannheimer String Quartet. His orchestral career began with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, and continued in the violin section of the Berlin Philharmonic. In 2013 he was appointed 1st Concertmaster of the Essener Philharmoniker, and is in frequent demand as guest concertmaster with leading orchestras throughout Germany and the UK.

Jürgen Jürges (1940-) is one of Germany's leading cinematographers. His filmography extends to hundreds of films, and contains masterpieces such as “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul” and “Effie Briest” by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, “Funny Games” by Michael Haneke, and “Faraway, So Close” by Wim Wenders. His detached, semi-documentary presentational technique has won him numerous prizes over a long career. For his work on Ilja Khrzhanovskij's multi-year project “DAU” Jürges won the 2020 Silver Bear for outstanding artistic achievement.

Classic at Home is a fast-growing streaming platform for high-quality classical music. The platform is known for its collaboration with the leading artists of our time (Michael Barenboim, Arcadi Volodos, Lynn Harrell, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Soloists of the Berliner Philharmoniker) and strong partnerships with TV channels ARTE and WDR (Germany), Mezzo TV (France), and with many international cultural foundations. Monthly viewing figures are 100,000 and growing.