Who We Are

We are people who understand that a piece of this magnitude needs to be out in the world, now more than ever.

We are documentarians, who want to chronical the historic path that this piece has taken, capturing not only the concert itself, but the story of A. Peter Gary, whose remarkable talent survived the war and who has translated his experience of the Shoah – the Holocaust – into a musical piece that will continue to remind us for all time about our humanity – or lack of it.

We are members of a diverse community around the world who believe in the power of the words. The Libretto that Peter has written is a basis for curriculum on the holocaust for students around the world. The words will move you. The words will shock you. You will not be the same after experiencing the power of A Twentieth Century Passion.

We are also pragmatic people, who need your help to make our vision come to life. Musical Director Barak Tal is on board, ready to hire the additional artists and musicians he will need to supplement his orchestra, the Tel-Aviv Soloists Ensemble, acknowledged by the Jerusalem Post as “Israel’s finest chamber orchestra”.

Hilary Pryor, Executive Producer and David Malysheff, documentarian are on board; they have already got more than 14 hours of film “in the can”. 

Support the concert. Support the documentary. Do it today so we can all be together “THIS year in Jerusalem”. See you October 17 in the Jerusalem Theatre.


Our Vision

After its world premiere in 2016,  A 20th Century Passion should be the musical remembrance performed every year on Yom HaShoah, around the world.


Why This Performance is Different

The first time anything is done tends to be the hardest. The initial performance of A Twentieth Century Passion is no exception. The world premiere is to acknowledge that there is something that the rest of the world will want – once the world experiences it for the first time in 2016.

The Israeli premier performance requires substantial funding, as Barak Tal, Conductor, wants to do it to Peter’s specifications. Funds need to be raised to ensure that all the pieces required to do it right the first time are in place, from the contractor who handles logistics to the soloists to Peter being able to attend the performance. Also funds are needed to put together the libretto in a variety of languages and in a format that is suitable for educational purposes.


World Premier

Any complex piece of music requires effort to perform. A work that has never been produced anywhere before requires even more in the way of rehearsal and preparation. Musical Director Barak Tal will lead the premier performance, in Israel. Conductor Tal has already spent a week in Canada with Peter Gary, the composer, going over every note and bar – an opportunity rarely afforded a conductor. He got to know not only the music, but Peter the man who is much more than a survivor.

Once the hall has been reserved and the 2016 premier date confirmed, it is going to be necessary for Conductor Tal to augment the size of his orchestra with up to 35 additional musicians. He will also need two choirs, two choir directors, four soloists and space to hold numerous rehearsals for this monumental piece.

To make this vision a reality is going to require $85,000 US.


A Letter From Peter

“So how did it evolve? Did the libretto come first? Why in the form of poems? How do you hear the music? Do you compose it on a piano? What made you write it?“

These and other questions have been asked of me, ever since I wrote ‘a Twentieth Century Passion.’ Some of the answers are easy, some would have to be invented which I am not willing to do, so a simple “I have no idea” must suffice.

Once the format was set as an oratorio, the words and music formed a double helix for both in my mind. It is not for the piano, so even if I did own one, the music would not sound the same. I guess this area is the hardest to explain: how does a composer compose? I had to say it many times, that to me, (and I can only speak for myself), it is my other language that I consider far more expressive in its nuances than words and sentences. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, reach over to my little music note book with its five lines and start writing. Yes, it is that simple. Or is it?

Since the oratorio’s libretto is chronological, starting in historical time at the end of World War I and the rise of Nazi power and ending with the Nuremberg trial twenty six years later, the framework was a given. Between those two it came to me naturally, depicting the trains taking us to the death camps. Next, the horrors of the day, by day, by day sufferings and finally the liberation. Sometimes the words were there and as the music evolved with it, the music just continued flowing beyond the words.

Some other times it was the other way around. Writing the arias (songs) was a more complex process. I should explain why I wrote all librettos in the form of poems. I am not a poet. Hmm. I really don’t know why. I can only guess that I heard them in that format in my mind. Probably not different than how a Michelangelo came up with the ‘David’ or Goethe with ‘Faust’.

The strange story of how the oratorio came to me has been told many times. Every year in Carmel, California there is a Bach festival. The two major pieces played every other year are the ‘St. Matthew Passion’ and the ‘B minor Mass’. I attended these excellent concerts several years in ideal settings, following these Masterpieces with my ears and heart as well as my eyes looking at the musical score I took with me to the concert. Except for the year that I left the score at home. As I was listening to the magnificent sounds of Bach, a strange feeling came over me. ‘How come, that the life and death of one Jew namely Jesus Christ is depicted with the greatest music ever written from Bach to Bernstein in oratorios, requiems, passions, but . . . nothing in the world musical literature about the life and death of six million? The next thing I remember, my hand turned the program over and the words ‘a Twentieth Century Passion’ appeared. It was as if our one and a half million murdered Jewish children would have guided my hands.

We composers are a strange lot. Our creative art is the most abstract form of all other creativity. The most important factor in all of the arts is the need to express something by the artist. I hope I have done this, almost forty years ago. I feel I did owe it for surviving the Holocaust and giving the world an avenue to remember it.

Peter Gary
A 20th Century Passion