Musicians unite to mark Holocaust in Norwich
A moving collaboration between two gifted musicians – one, the 90-year-old Norfolk composer, Frank Pond, and the other, a young German professional ’cellist, Guido Ruhland – was a unique feature of Holocaust Memorial Day in Norwich, 70 years after the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi Concentration Camp. Mike Wiltshire reports.
The two men took part in a well-attended civic service at St Peter Mancroft Church and at an equally well-attended evening concert at the Norwich Synagogue.
For the past six years, Norwich composer Frank Pond has written and performed a special lament for each Memorial Day – this year, his composition was simply called “Soliloquy,” remembering six million Jews and five million others – including 1.5 children, who perished in the death camps.
News of Frank Pond’s remarkable music compositions reached Germany several years ago, and it was then that the gifted violin-cellist Guido Ruhland from Dessau, near Berlin, wrote to Frank in Norwich to ask if he could have a copy of all Frank’s compositions. Several were subsequently recorded and played on German radio.
Guido plays with the prestigious Anhaltische Philharmonic and said he was honoured to be invited to the Norwich events - there was a moving moment at the Synagogue when the two men embraced to the applause of the audience who later described the event as “a magnificent concert . . . the power of the music was profound.”
Norwich was one of the first places in Britain to hold a Holocaust Memorial Service. Frank Pond said he was first moved to write his holocaust reflections after watching black and white film footage – shown on British TV – of shocking and heartless Nazi attitudes to the death camps.
Frank said later he was overwhelmed by the response to his music compositions. He and his wife, Jean, attend the United Reformed Church and they have two ‘very musical daughters’, one a performance pianist and the other a 'cellist.
Norwich Synagogue president Maureen Leveton was warmly thanked for her hard work in helping to arrange the concert where participants included Emma Penfold, (oboe); Briony Roper, (piano); and Jean Boase-Beier, who read Holocaust poetry; and Jane Prinsley, soloist.
The Holocaust Memorial Service at St Peter Mancroft not only remembered those who were caught up in the horrors of Bergen-Belsen, Treblinka, Sobibor, Buchenvald and other death camps - but also those fleeing today from terror in Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.
The congregation also remembered those who in earlier years were caught up genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur, as well as the millions who died in Soviet Russia and in Europe.
Pictured top is German ’cellist Guido Ruhland (centre) with other concert participants and, above composer Frank Pond.