The Covenant: Citizenship through Music
The Covenant is a large scale musical work for violin, piano, soprano, chorus and orchestra
aiming to address current challenges in Holocaust education and denial. Composed by Israeli
American violinist Ittai Shapira, it includes musical sections and references to the Kovno
Ghetto, Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Neuengamme, Babi Yar and the forgotten camp of
Transnistria. This new work is dedicated to and written for German pianist and
curator Constanze Beckmann, who has recently and successfully performed and
curated several projects for Holocaust NOW, as part of the Holocaust Education Week. It is a
musical response to Verdi’s Requiem, which was performed by 150 inmates at Theresienstadt
16 times, as an act of defiance and hope through music.
The composition honors and tells the stories of examples such as Beckmann’s mentor Dr.
Felicia Carmelly, who survived Transnistria and founded the Transnistria Survivor’s
Association and wrote her memoir “Across the Rivers of Memory” published by the Azrieli
Foundation, Gorge Brady, who founded the VEDEM magazine at Theresienstadt, survived
Auschwitz and went on to become a successful businessman in Canada, and it also includes the
story of Aharon Barak who survived Kovno and went on to become the chief justice of Israel,
as well as, several other survivor stories.
By involving community and University choirs, The Covenant embodies a rounded and
involving theatrical experience. The work will include sections referencing the stories of
individual survivors and historical facts by means of a simple yet revealing text. Audiences and
students can empathize, identify, and actively engage, with the material as a means of building
Musical Citizenship. The Elmer Isler Singers , a professional choir, as well as the Amadeus
Choir, a community choir, and a children ‘s chorus from the Beth Torah Congregation will be
involved in weeks of rehearsals, learning about this crucial topic.
A number of directors and lecturers are interested in using the text and music for symposiums and
classrooms: Judith Goldstein from “Humanity in Action”, with whom Ittai Shapira collaborated at
Carnegie Hall in 2015. Menhas Afridi, director of comparative genocide at the Manhattan
College. Natasha Zaretsky, PH.D, NYU Journalism School and executive director of “Sound
Potential”, and Karen Zolko, Project Room 28, Brazil . We would like to develop online material
as well- crucial historical facts related to the Holocaust, with music, narration, and written text
highlighting examples of resilience and hope for students and families.
As we face rising antisemitism, racism, violence and discrimination of minorities, globally,
we envision a collaboration between the Israeli, German, Canadian, Czech, Romanian, and
Lithuanian Embassies to spread this message far and wide in a new era for Holocaust
We seek to launch The Covenant in Toronto at the Holocaust Education Week November 8,
2020, as a long term project, on and off stage, starting at Koerner Hall, followed by a
performance at Carnegie Hall in 2021 commemorating 80 years formation of the Transnistria
camp. We are also planning to perform The Covenant in Romania, Lithuania, Germany, and