STC Music faculty convey reality of the Holocaust to Valley schools
Made possible by a grant from the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission, STC Music faculty performed “Hate, Hope, and Healing: Exploring the Holocaust Through Music” to children in Valley schools.
Recounting the suffering of his own grandparents who were survivors of the Holocaust, South Texas College Music faculty Dr. Michael Gersten says he immersed himself in some painful memories in order to bring the realization to light for Valley students.
A grant from the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission enabled Gersten, along with music faculty from STC to perform the work "Hate, Hope, and Healing: Exploring the Holocaust Through Music" at Valley-area high schools.
There were only two other organizations to receive the grant including the Dallas Holocaust Museum and the Anti-Defamation League, both of which are large organizations with a national reach.
The result is an attempt to immerse the audience in the human emotion of the tragic history of the Holocaust. The musicians performing the piece used the opportunity to enable students to walk away with a greater understanding of the responsibility everyone has in preventing acts of hate against all people, according to Gersten.
“My grandparents were holocaust survivors so this is very personal,” Gersten said. “There are far too many examples in the history of the world where innocent people suffer because of hatred; hatred because of someone’s religion, their race, or just who they are. This is about one specific example in history where this happened.”
“My grandparents were holocaust survivors so this is very personal. There are far too many examples in the history of the world where innocent people suffer because of hatred."
The performance, which includes an original movie with a live soundtrack performed by STC music faculty and a guest artist from New York, was presented for students at Sharyland High School, PSJA Memorial High School, PSJA Southwest High School, and IDEA College Prep McAllen. The grant, along with matching funds from the STC music department, enabled STC to perform at zero cost to the schools.
Hate, Hope, and Healing: Exploring the Holocaust Through Music is an immersive, emotional presentation that follows the experiences of three men and women who survived the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany and their collaborators during the Holocaust.
The multimedia presentation includes survivor interviews with archival photos and video. A Bisl Klezmer performed the live soundtrack.
A Bisl Klezmer is the name of the group specializing in traditional Jewish music comprised by musicians Melanie Haskins, and Mike and Meredith Gersten. STC faculty Patrick Hopkins also performed.
“What we should all take from this, I hope, is that you really listen to these stories and not think of them as dates and names in textbooks, but real things that happened to real people,” Gersten said. “I hope you will remember these stories as you live your lives and think ‘what can I do to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again’.”
For more insight into the performance, please visit https://www.mikegersten.com/hope for more information.