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Student Composers Use Survivors’ Songs for Auschwitz Ceremony Music

  • February 20, 2015
  • By a2ru      
Two student workers at the USC Shoah Foundation create a piano suite based on melodies from the archives; perform in Poland


Two USC seniors were on the world stage in Kraków, Poland, at the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp on Jan. 26, 2015, playing a piano suite they composed.

Alex Biniaz-Harris and Ambrose Soehn wrote the piece for two pianos during the fall, basing it on melodies sung by Holocaust survivors they found in the video testimony archives of the USC Shoah Foundation — The Institute for Visual History and Education.

They had thought their five-minute piece, Auschwitz Suite, might be used in one of the foundation’s documentaries, but a week ago, they were asked to play it at the upcoming gathering of survivors in Kraków. Violinist Itzhak Perlman had been scheduled to perform, but travel complications prevented that. So event organizers turned to the two young Trojans.