Claudia Stevens: Performance of "An Evening with Madame 'F'"
In addition to our annual Hildebrandt Awards event, scheduled for 19 April 2004, the Holocaust Center has scheduled a special performance during Holocaust Remembrance Week. Claudia Stevens, a pianist who teaches at the College of William & Mary, will perform “An Evening with Madame ‘F’,” a one- person musical drama created by Stevens in which she adopts the persona of an elderly concentration-camp survivor who performed as a musician at Auschwitz. Stevens uses both music and first-hand accounts by musicians at Auschwitz to underscore the struggle and moral dilemma of women who were forced to prostitute their art in order to survive. “An Evening with Madame ‘F’” is scheduled for Wednesday, 21 April, at 7:30 p.m. in the Mabel Brown Room of the Young Student Center.
Fania Fenelon’s survival of the Auschwitz concentration camp came at a price: She, along with a handful of other Jewish musicians, were forced by the Nazis to perform “calming music” as their fellow captives were herded into the gas chambers.
Fenelon’s story is the subject of a musical drama performance by pianist Claudia Stevens at Keene State College on Wednesday, April 21. The performance is presented by the Cohen Center for Holocaust Studies, as part of the College’s recognition of Holocaust Remembrance Week.
Stevens, a faculty member at the College of William and Mary, will perform “An Evening with Madame ‘F’” at 7:30 p.m. in the Mabel Brown Room of the Student Center. The performance is free and open to the public.
In her performance, Stevens uses both music and first-hand accounts by musicians at Auschwitz to underscore the struggle and moral dilemma of women who were forced to prostitute their art in order to survive.
Stevens is an established concert pianist, scholar, and recording artist. Several of her works have been produced by Public Television and National Public Radio’s NPR Playhouse. She has appeared at Carnegie Hall, on National Public Radio’s Performance Today, and recorded for Perspectives of New Music.
A native of California, Stevens holds a bachelor of arts degree from Vassar College, a master of arts degree in musicology from the University of California at Berkeley, and a doctor of musical arts from Boston University. She has held academic, conducting, and performing arts positions at Williams College and the University of Richmond.
The Musicians of Auschwitz by Fania Fenelon This is a celebrated memoir describing the healing power of music as it was a part of Fania Fenelon’s life. Her story has also been made into a television show, “Playing for Time,” written by Arthur Miller and starring Vanessa Redgrave. Fania was one of the Jewish musicians who played in the orchestra at Birkenau-Auschwitz. Her specialty was “Madame Butterfly,” and occasionally she would write music for the other players. She claims that her absorption in the creating of music cleared her mind, lifted her soul and gave her hope. Fania and the other musicians played for the SS, but their songs were secretly jubilant and hopeful without the German soldiers’ knowledge. The players transformed traditional Jewish music and even dared to perform pieces that were banned by the Nazis.