Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Encore of Holocaust Remembrance Film Phoenix from the Ashes

Phoenix from the Ashes: A Film by Judith Lynn Stillman, has as its centerpiece a song cycle for soprano and piano celebrating the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. This Holocaust remembrance film, showcased at the Embassy of the Czech Republic's 2014 Holocaust Remembrance event, airs January 17, 2016, at 6 p.m. on Rhode Island Stories. with encore broadcasts on Saturday, January 23 at 11 p.m. on WSBE Rhode Island PBS and on Tuesday, January 19 at 8 p.m. on WSBE Learn.

Sidney Taussig and Judith Stillman at the premiere.

The documentary features the world premiere of Phoenix from the Ashes: Seven Songs for Soprano and Piano composed by internationally-renowned musician, Judith Lynn Stillman. Dramatic soprano of the New York Metropolitan Opera Lori Phillips sings, with Stillman as collaborative pianist. Stillman is Artist-in-Residence and professor of music at Rhode Island College. Phillips, who grew up in East Providence, RI, is a graduate of Rhode Island College.

The song texts in Phoenix from the Ashes are based on poems from Vedem: The Secret Magazine of The Boys of Terezin (concentration camp). From 1942 through 1944, a group of 140 teenage boys, aged 13-16, living in the barracks at Terezín, secretly documented their lives in a weekly magazine called Vedem (Czech for "In the Lead"), which included their art work, essays, reviews, and poetry. It was a huge risk to produce - they would have been sent to death camps if caught - but the magazine was never discovered.

Of the 140 boys who participated in the effort to produce Vedem, only about 15 survived. Only one of them, Zdeněk (Sidney) Taussig, remained in Terezín until its liberation in May 1945. He had the insight to save the nearly 800 pages of the manuscript in the hopes that it might survive the war. After he was liberated, he retrieved the manuscript and brought it back home with him to Prague.

Mr. Taussig, the 83-year old survivor who showed such extraordinary bravery and foresight as a teen, tells his compelling story in this documentary in interviews interspersed with the songs. Texts for the Phoenix song cycle come from the pages miraculously hidden and retrieved by Taussig, who was present at the debut to hear his boyhood friends' poems realized in Stillman's songs.

Another film featuring performance of Stillman's original compositions airs Sunday, january 10 at 6 p.m. Read about Dueling Double Divas here.

WSBE Rhode Island PBS transmits over the air on 36.1; on Rhode Island cable: Cox cable 08/1008HD, Verizon FiOS 08/508HD, Full Channel 08; on Massachusetts cable: Comcast 819HD (Comcast SD subscribers check local listings for standard definition channel), Verizon FiOS 18/518HD; satellite: Dish 36/7776, DirecTV 36.

WSBE Learn transmits over the air on 36.2; Rhode Island cable: Cox 808, Verizon 478, and Full Channel 109; Massachusetts cable: Comcast 294 or 312.

For more information about programs and services at Rhode Island PBS, visit www.ripbs.org.