Local composer remembers Holocaust with world premiere performance

First complete liturgy dedicated to Yom HaShoah

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. (WXYZ) - As Detroit's Jewish Community prepares to observe a somber day, a local composer hopes his work helps heal the wounds of the Holocaust.

It's not always the loudest voice that gets your attention. But don't ignore Jerry Blackstone's booming direction.

"Fill it, fill it, fill it." prompts Blackstone to his choir, whose forte is simply to get them to connect. And the connection for many at Adat Shalom Synagogue leaps right off the page.

"I Believe" is the first complete musical liturgy dedicated to the Holocaust Remembrance Day, known as Yom Hashoah.

"It literally raised the hair on my arms and I started to tear." said choir member Sarah Cohen.

If you listen closely, you'll hear the heart of the work's composer; a man who noticed a lack of music for this powerful day on the Jewish calendar. Cantor Dan Gross found his muse through the life of his grandmother, Masha--blessed to survive the Holocaust, cursed to grieve what it took from her.

"She was the only survivor of her immediate family." said Gross, "Her eight brothers and sisters and her parents were all murdered at a death camp. The least I could do was dedicate this piece in her memory and to the family that I never got a chance to know."

"When I think of the Holocaust, I think of how many more children there would be in the world." said Cohen.

"The Holocaust was a sad thing," said Ethan Biederman, an 11-year-old member of the choir, "But it was also important because we need to know how to prevent it in the future."

If melody is meant for the ear, harmony has its place in the soul. And it may be why the most meaning voices are ones that know how to listen.

This year's Holocaust Remembrance Day is on Sunday, April 7th, which is the night the choir is set to perform "I believe" at Detroit's Orchestra Hall. The sold out 4 P.M. show will air live on Detroit Public Television.

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