Laurence Sherr
Music of Resistance and Survival Project

Jewish partisan music group in Belorussia, 1943
Credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Benjamin (Miedzyrzecki) Meed

• Combines music and educational material to engage audiences in meaningful Holocaust remembrance
• Concerts feature Holocaust songs of resistance and survival from the ghettos, camps, and partisans, followed by a new Judaic-inspired cello sonata that integrates these songs
• Most often presented as a concert with an educational presentation or a pre-concert lecture
• Goals–engender remembrance relevant to our current world, and increase tolerance and respect
• Successful artistic and educational impact demonstrated by audience accolades and press coverage
• Produced in the Czech Republic, Poland, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, and the US since 2015 launch

• Public Concert: Holocaust source songs followed by Sherr’s Sonata for Cello and Piano–Mir zaynen do!, or cello recital with Sherr's sonata and mixed repertory
• Educational Presentation: Dr. Sherr's multimedia presentation integrated into the concert, or as a stand-alone or pre-concert lecture
• Student Concert for ages 11-18: an adapted and abbreviated version of the Public Concert, with multi-media presentation
• Online Educational Materials

Selected Photos–Music of Resistance and Survival Project Productions

Commemoration of the Creation and Liquidation of the Kraków ghetto, Galicia Jewish Museum,
Kraków, Poland, 2018
(Public Concert with In-Concert Educational Presentation)

Yom HaShoah Memorial Concert, Auckland, New Zealand, May 4, 2016
(Public Concert with In-Concert Educational Presentation)
Photo credit: Shadows of Shoah

Kristallnacht Remembrance concert, Wroclaw, Poland, November 5, 2015
(Public Concert with In-Concert Educational Presentation)

Music of Resistance and Survival: A Holocaust Remembrance Concert, Atlanta, USA, March 23, 2015
(Public Concert with In-Concert Commentary)

Music of Resistance and Survival: A Holocaust Remembrance Concert, Atlanta, USA, March 23, 2015
(Student Concert with In-Concert Commentary)

Press Coverage
TV interview: A Conversation With - Laurence Sherr (includes commentary on Music of Resistance and Survival Project)

Radio interviews, including
Upbeat–Laurence Sherr, Radio New Zealand, 2016
KSU Composer Pens Music in Remembrance of Holocaust Victims, WABE-FM, 2015
The Haunting Music of the Holocaust, Georgia Public Broadcasting, 2015
Friday Live: Saint Paul First Friday Music And Art

Concert review
Middle C: Classical Music Reviews, Wellington, New Zealand

Public Concert video: Atlanta, USA, 2015 (third video)

Student Concert video: Atlanta, USA, 2015 (fourth video)

Cello sonata premiere performance video, Lincoln, USA, 2015, includes 3 source songs (first video)

Upcoming Events
Music of Resistance and Survival
"Day of Memory" (national program) for International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27)
Teatro Titano
San Marino, Republic of San Marino
January 26, 2019

     Nicola Baroni, cello
     Lorenzo Meo, piano
     Elena Tereshchenko, voice, 4 source songs
San Marino lecture and Bologna, Italy concert details TBA
Past Events
Music of Resistance and Survival
Commemoration Events for the Establishment and Liquidation of the Krakow Ghetto
Galicia Jewish Museum
Krakow, Poland
March 10, 2018

     Jan Kalinowski, cello
     Marek Szlezer, piano
     Urszula Makosz, singer
, 4 source songs


Sherr lecture: "Suppressed Music and Art during the Nazi Era"
Galicia Jewish Museum
March 9, 2018

Poster for both events
Music of Resistance and Survival
Kristallnacht event
Florida Holocaust Museum
St. Petersburg, FL
November 9, 2017

     Theresa Villani, cello
     Colleen Schmitt, piano
     Gerald Arnold, tenor, 4 source songs

Prof. Laurence Sherr (Kennesaw State University): The Music of Resistance and Survival Project
Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance
Jerusalem, Israel
December 13, 2016

     Inbal Meggido, cello
     Jian Liu, piano

Lecture-presentation, featuring a live performance of the sonata
The Best of Chamber Music - The Cello in Song
Eden-Tamir Music Center, Ein Kerem
Jerusalem, Israel
December 10, 2016

     Inbal Meggido, cello
     Jian Liu, piano

Kristallnacht Holocaust Commemoration Concert
St James Theatre, 77-87 Courtenay Place
Wellington, New Zealand
November 9, 2016

     Inbal Meggido, cello
     Jian Liu, piano

Performance video

Event info


Artist Series Concert
University of Queensland
Brisbane, Australia
May 12, 2016

     Inbal Meggido, cello
     Anna Grinberg, piano

Sherr lecture: "Remembering the Silenced Voices of Holocaust Song Creators: Weaving Songs of Resistance and Survival into a New Cello Sonata”
Creative Collaboratorium and RHD Seminar Series
University of Queensland, May 11, 2016

UQ Composer's Workshop, May 13, 2016

Educational concert for students
Dilworth School
Auckland, New Zealand
May 9, 2016

     Katherine Hebley, cello
     Penny Christiansen, piano
Sherr educational presentation: Music of Resistance and Survival
(recorded examples of sonata and source songs)
Kadima School
Auckland, New Zealand
May 9, 2016
Holocaust Memorial Concert: Music of Resistance and Survival
Auckland Hebrew Congregation
Auckland, New Zealand
May 4, 2016

     Katherine Hebley, cello
     Penny Christiansen, piano
     Fay Hadden McNeil, soprano, 4 source songs

Sherr's presentation will be integrated into the concert: "Remembering the Silenced Voices of Holocaust Song Creators: Weaving Songs of Resistance and Survival into a New Cello Sonata.”

The concert follows the Auckland Holocaust Memorial Service.


Guest Artist Recital
Conservatorium of Music
University of Waikato
Hamilton, New Zealand
May 4, 2016

     Inbal Meggido, cello
     Jian Liu, piano

Sherr lecture: "Remembering the Silenced Voices of Holocaust Song Creators: Weaving Songs of Resistance and Survival into a New Cello Sonata”, May 4, 2016

Composition class lecture, May 4, 2016

Wellington Chamber Music: Sunday Concerts 2016
St Andrew's on The Terrace
Wellington, New Zealand 
May 1, 2016

     Inbal Meggido, cello
     Jian Liu, piano

Sherr interview–Radio New Zealand
Concert review
Wellington Chamber Music brochure

Sherr lecture: "Remembering the Silenced Voices of Holocaust Song Creators: Weaving Songs of Resistance and Survival into a New Cello Sonata”
Holocaust Centre of New Zealand, Wellington, April 27, 2016

Sherr Pre-Concert Presentation, May 1, 2016

Sherr lecture: "Music at Auschwitz: Aid to Survival or Dehumanizing Degradation?"
NZSM Music Forum, Wellington, May 6, 2016
Songs of Identity and Survival: A Kristallnacht Remembrance (see photos above)
Karol Lipinski Academy of Music
Wroclaw, Poland
November 5, 2015
Part of the Days of Mutual Respect festival

     Petr Nouzovsky, cello
     Yukie Ichimura, piano
     Anna Blaut, vocals, and Tomasz Kaczmarek, piano, 2 source songs

Music of Resistance and Survival (concert with commentary)
Chapel of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren
Prague, Czech Republic
November 3, 2015

     Petr Nouzovsky, cello
     Yukie Ichimura, piano
     Kristyna Valousková, soprano, 3 source songs

Sherr lecture: "Remembering the Silenced Voices of Holocaust Song Creators: Weaving Songs of Resistance and Survival into a New Cello Sonata”
Faculty of Humanities, Charles University Prague
Prague, Czech Republic
November 2, 2015
Faculty Recital
Red Lodge Music Festival
Red Lodge, MT
June 6, 2015

     Karen Becker, cello
     Jay Mauchley, piano

"Music of Resistance and Survival: A Holocaust Remembrance Concert" (with commentary by directors of Atlanta Holocaust educational institutions and other community leaders – see photos above)
The Temple
Atlanta, GA
March 23, 2015
• morning Student Concert – Music, Theatrical Scenes, and Exhibits
• evening Public Concert – Concert, Speakers, and Exhibits
Sherr radio interview 1–WABE  |  Sherr radio interview 2–GPB  |  Preview article (pg. 25)

     Charae Kreuger, cello
     Robert Henry, piano
     Cantors Deborah Hartman and Nancy Kassel, Judy Cole, piano, 4 source songs

Faculty Recital
Kennesaw State University
Atlanta, GA
January 26, 2015

     Charae Kreuger, cello
     Robert Henry, piano

"Source Material and Holocaust Remembrance in Sonata for Cello and Piano–Mir zaynen do!," recital commentary
"Favored and Forbidden" Faculty Recital
University of Nebraska
Lincoln, NE
January 15, 2015 WORLD PREMIERE

      Karen Becker, cello
      Jay Mauchley, piano
      Kate Butler, mezzo-soprano, 3 source songs

Sherr radio interview–NET
Recital video
Education and outreach events by Dr. Sherr:
• "Suppressed Music and Art during the Nazi Era," Harris Center for Judaic Studies Guest Lecture, 1/14/15
• "Music at Auschwitz: Aid to Survival or Dehumanizing Degradation?,"School of Music Convocation, 1/15/15
• "Favored and Forbidden," recital commentary
• “An Introduction to Klezmer and Gypsy Music, and their influence on Western Classical Music," The Jewish Federation of Lincoln, 1/18/15


Sonata for Cello and Piano–Mir zaynen do!
• Sonata can be performed independently, on concerts and recitals, and at Holocaust remembrance events
• 3 movements, 24 minutes duration; each movement can be performed alone

Program Notes
The creation and singing of songs was an important and widespread activity among persecuted groups during the Holocaust. The songs served a wide range of purposes: expressing inner feelings, encouraging resilience and resistance, establishing identity, strengthening faith and courage, lamenting loss and current circumstances, and longing for earlier and better times, among many others. My sonata includes four songs that originated in ghettos, concentration camps, or among the partisans. Mir zaynen do! (We Are Here!), the subtitle of my work, is a refrain in one of these songs: Zog nit keynmol az du geyst dem letstn veg (Never Say You Are Walking the Last Road). Partisan poet Hirsh Glik penned this emblematic Yiddish phrase as the concluding refrain in Zog nit keynmol; it is a phrase that signified identity, resistance, and survival, and that has been used similarly in numerous titles and initiatives since then.

The sonata-form first movement uses the song Yid, du partizaner (Jew, You Partisan) as the first theme. Vilna ghetto and partisan activist Shmerke Kaczerginski wrote the emboldening Yiddish lyrics to an existing melody that he likely heard in the partisan forests. Kaczerginski was a tireless advocate whose collecting of Holocaust songs is most well known through his post-war publication Lider fun di getos un lagern (Songs from the Ghettos and Camps). Three of the songs in the sonata appear in this collection.

The second movement draws upon the work of two Jewish musicians–like in the other movements, these sources are integrated with newly composed material. The first source is Kel (El) mole rachamim, a Jewish prayer for the souls of the deceased as sung by Cantor Sholom Katz. Katz recounted that his life was spared when he sang this prayer just before a mass execution during the Holocaust. He continued singing the prayer after the war with newly added words that lament the murder of European Jews in extermination camps such as Auschwitz, Majdanek, and Treblinka. The cello ‘intones’ transcribed excerpts from Katz’s singing as the movement unfolds. The second source is the comforting lullaby Wiegala that Czech poet and writer Ilse Weber created while a prisoner in the Theresienstadt concentration camp. The lullaby gradually emerges near the end of the movement.

Zog nit keynmol is the basis for the theme and eight variations in the third movement. Vilna poet Hirsh Glik used a film melody by Soviet-Jewish composers Dmitri and Daniel Pokrass to create this song after hearing about the 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising and other Jewish resistance. Glik’s lyrics convey defiant hope in the face of adversity, and the song quickly spread across Yiddish-speaking Europe. In my variation movement, the final variation features the piano continuing with Zog nit keynmol while the cello simultaneously plays the song Yugnt himn (Youth Hymn). Yugnt himn is a 1943 motivational song for the Vilna ghetto youth club that Kaczerginski created by writing lyrics to music that Vilna resident Basye Rubin had composed before the war. Both of these songs show the remarkable resilience in Vilna, where only about 4–5% of the Jewish population survived the Holocaust.

Each of the creators of the songs used in the sonata has a compelling story. Their songs provide illumination of their lives and circumstances, allow us to gain perspective on lost and forbidden voices, and help us to understand the unprecedented tragedy of the Holocaust. By creating a new composition drawing on the work of these creators, it is my hope that performers and audiences will connect with their stories, and that the legacy of their cultural contributions will be strengthened and remembered.

Sonata for Cello and Piano–Mir zaynen do! is dedicated to my father, Saul Sherr (1925–2012). Born Szolim Szereszewski in the Polish shtetl of Szczuczyn, he was a Yiddish speaker whose love of cantorial singing and Jewish music influenced me in ways I am still coming to realize.

Sources: Song and Creator Information
Lyrics for the source songs and prayer
Yid, du partizaner (Jew, You Partisan)
Shmerke Kaczerginski (1908–1954) had numerous opportunities to become familiar with Russian popular song melodies–from 1939–41, when the Soviets entered parts of Poland, and when, after fleeing with other Jewish partisans just before the 1943 Nazi liquidation of the Vilna ghetto, he eventually joined a Soviet partisan unit in the Lithuanian-Belorussian forests. For his fellow Jews in that unit, he created Yid, du partizaner by writing new lyrics to a Russian song he had likely encountered in the forests. The lyrics speak of survival and revenge, and indeed, Kaczerginski participated in the liberation of his home city of Vilna in 1944. Immediately after the war, he worked assiduously to collect songs of the ghettos, camps, and partisans. These were published in a number of collections, most notably his comprehensive anthology Lider fun di getos un lagern. He was also active as a prominent writer and lecturer, but his work was cut short when he perished in a plane crash in South America in 1954.
Kel (El) mole rachamim
Cantor Sholom Katz (1915–1982) was recognized as a gifted singer at a young age. After studying voice in Budapest and Vienna, he became Chief Cantor in Kishinev, Bessarabia, just before the war. In 1942, prior to being shot with a group of several thousand other Jews, he requested permission to sing. His moving vocal interpretation of Kel mole rachamim, a traditional Jewish prayer for mercy for the souls of the deceased, led the Nazi commandant to spare his life. Katz subsequently survived concentration camp internment, and after the war, continued to sing Kel mole rachamim. He chanted the prayer at prominent international remembrance ceremonies, and added new prayer text that describes Jewish suffering during the Holocaust and names several of the infamous camps. His singing and his story were so compelling that I transcribed several essential excerpts from one of his Kel mole rachamim recordings for use in the second movement of my cello sonata.
Ilse Weber (1903–1944) worked as a children’s author and radio producer in pre-war Prague, where she was also active as a singer who played lute, guitar, mandolin, and balalaika. In 1942, she was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp along with her husband and one of her sons. She continued to write poetry and songs, and sang the songs for other prisoners. Her songs ranged from I Wander through Theresienstadt, which bore witness to camp life, to the lullaby Wiegala, which provided solace and comfort in lieu of the medicine that was not available in the children’s infirmary where she worked. Her husband Willi was deported to Auschwitz in 1944; she and her son followed soon after, and were gassed on arrival. Willi survived, and recovered her creative work he had buried before his deportation. Her Theresienstadt poems are collected in the volume Inside These Walls, Sorrow Lives.
Zog nit keynmol
Hirsh Glik (1922–1944) was a young poet and Zionist youth organization member at the time of the 1941 Nazi occupation of Vilna. As an original member of the Jewish underground resistance organization FPO (Fareynigte Partizaner Organizatsye), he was particularly active in the cultural life of the ghetto. In the spring of 1943, in response to news of the Warsaw ghetto uprising and Jewish partisan armed resistance near Vilna, he penned new lyrics to a march melody by the Soviet-Jewish composers Dmitri and Daniel Pokrass. His uplifting lyrics conveyed defiant optimism despite adversity, especially with the Yiddish phrase that ends the first and final verses: “Mir zaynen do!” (We are here!). The song was soon adopted as the FPO hymn, and had spread across much of Europe by the end of World War II. Captured when the Vilna ghetto was liquidated, Glik continued to create poetry in several concentration camps. He escaped in 1944, but perished in a battle against the Germans.
Yugnt himn
In 1943, Kaczerginski combined a number of his pursuits, including those as a folklorist, songwriter, political activist, collector, and educator, when he created Yungt himn, a new song dedicated to the Vilna ghetto youth club. Along with other partisans, Kaczerginski served there as a mentor and organizer of cultural events. At the meetings, communal singing was a crucial activity for stimulating group identity, zeal, and courage, and perhaps encouraged the youth to participate in the resistance. Set to pre-war music by Vilna resident Basye Rubin, the lyrics of Yungt himn exhort energetic group devotedness, youthfulness, and “boldness” for people of all ages. The club embraced the song, singing it at all meetings during the following few months while it was still in existence.

Commissioning Consortium–Cellists
• Nicola Baroni, "Claudio Monteverdi" Conservatory, Bolzano, Italy
• Karen Becker, University of Nebraska, Lincoln Symphony Orchestra Principal, Lincoln, NE, USA, Performer Representative
• Katherine Hebley, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, New Zealand
• Parry Karp, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Pro Arte Quartet, Madison, WI, USA
• Charae Krueger, Kennesaw State University, Atlanta Opera and Atlanta Ballet Orchestra Principal, Atlanta, GA, USA
• Inbal Megiddo, New Zealand School of Music, Wellington, New Zealand
• Thalia Moore, Earplay, San Francisco Opera and Ballet Orchestras, San Francisco, CA, USA
• Petr Nouzovský, performing and recording artist, Prague, Czech Republic
• Dennis Parker, Lousiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, US
• Martina Rühmkorff, Cordi Con Brio ensemble, Dietzenbach, Germany
• Michal Schmidt, University of Pennsylvania, Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges, Philadelphia, PA, USA
• Adiel Shmit, performing artist, Haifa, Israel
• Theresa Villani, performing and recording artist, Tampa, FL, USA
• Anna Wróbel, performing and recording artist, Warsaw, Poland

Educational Resources–Secondary and Primary Educators and Students
Teacher's Guide: Music in the Holocaust

Music and the Holocaust (ORT)

Finding a Voice: Musicians in Terezín

Music in Holocaust Education

Between the Worlds – Social Circles in the Theresienstadt Ghetto

Handbook for Teachers: Guidelines for Teaching about the Holocaust

A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust

The Holocaust Explained

Echoes and Reflections

Project Support
To support the ongoing development and dissemination of the Music of Resistance and Survival Project,
please use this link:

Please designate "School of Music" and then add "Holocaust Music Project" in the subsequent Comments section.

The Kennesaw State University Foundation, Inc., which handles donatations, is a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization.

Thank you very much for your support.

Donor List
We gratefully acknowledge the support of individuals, institutions, and businesses for project events and development.

Major Project Sponsorship
SNCF America, Inc.

General Project Support

Kennesaw State University (KSU)

March 2018
Galicia Jewish Museum

November 2017
Florida Holocaust Museum

April–May 2016, New Zealand

New Zealand School of Music
Auckland Hebrew Congregation
Zionist Federation of New Zealand
Beth Shalom, Auckland, New Zealand
B'nai B'rith, Australia/New Zealand
Habonim Dror
Private donors

November 2015, Czech Republic and Poland

The Bente Kahan Foundation

October 2015, Atlanta, USA
Center for African and African Diaspora Studies, KSU

March 2015, Atlanta, USA
Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters
Atlanta Jewish Music Festival
The Atlanta Memorial Fund of Eternal-Life Hemshech
Breman Museum
Walton Bryde
Sandy Cohn in honor of Ruth Gershon
Georgia Commission on the Holocaust
Adrian & Ilene Grant
David L. Halpern
The Hyman Foundation
Jared Kaye
KSU: School of Music and Museum of History and Holocaust Education
Panton Capital Holdings (PCH)
Sherri Parman
In Honor of Beverly and Paul Radow
Norman Radow and Lindy Shallcross
Richard and Elizabeth Siegel
Robert Strauss
Temple Beth Tikvah
The Temple

January 2015, Lincoln, USA
Congregation Tifereth Israel
Jen Davidson
The Jewish Federation of Lincoln
South Street Temple
University of Nebraska, Lincoln: Harris Center for Judaic Studies and Glenn Korff School of Music

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