Cantata expresses pain of Holocaust

Director Bryan Black was looking through choral works last summer for something to include in the DeKalb Choral Guild's upcoming 2001 season when he found a score with an imprint of barbed wire on the cover. He discovered The Holocaust Cantata: Songs From the Camps, a work comprised of essay, music and lyrics written by prisoners in Nazi concentration camps and compiled by the American composer Donald McCollough.

Hearing of Black's discovery, Atlanta's oldest Jewish congregation, the Temple in Midtown Atlanta invited the choral guild to premiere the cantata April 19, on Yom Hashoa, Holocaust Remembrance Day. The event also marks the synagogue premiere of the work, which first was performed at Washington's Kennedy Center in 1998.

"Almost 56 years after the end of the Holocaust, this cantata, performed by an essentially non-Jewish choir, will give voice to those who perished at the hands of the Nazi regime," says Temple Rabbi Alvin M. Sugarman. The Temple premiere will include cantor Deborah Benardot as a soloist and narration by WABE radio personality Lois Reitzes.

To members of the DeKalb Choral Guild, the rehearsal process has been emotionally draining. "Rehearsing the cantata, we've come to feel that it's not just another musical score to be performed, but truly an act of remembering," says Black. "For us as performers, these voices are very much alive."

The Holocaust Cantata: Songs from the Camps will be performed by the DeKalb Choral Guild Thurs., April 19, at 8 p.m. at the Temple, 1589 Peachtree St. Free. For more information, call 404-264-6101.??