Who Are These Children?

Sunday, November 12, 2023 @ 19:30
The Orpheum Annex Theatre, 823 Seymour Street, Vancouver

During November Children month, Yarilo is presenting a concert to remember children, the youngest, most innocent victims of wars. The project was inspired by a visit to the Children Memorial room at Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. It was borne out of the darkness of the latest discoveries of unmarked graves in the residential schools in Canada and the war in Ukraine where children were forcibly taken from their homes.

Our choice of music is by two giants of the 20th century—Benjamin Britten and George Crumb: Britten’s 1969 Song circle “Who Are These Children”, on poems by William Soutar and Crumb’s “Ancient Voices of Children” from 1970. Both capture dark and disturbing images of society’s child abuse.

This unforgettable experience after a visit to the Children Memorial at Yad Vashem forms the cornerstone of our project. We will illuminate the venue with many little LED candles. Each audience member will receive a candle to hold throughout the entire production. Flickering candles in the dark will be our visual representation of lost children, recreating the powerful impact of the Holocaust Museum’s Children Memorial here, in Canada. Take the candle home and remember at least one child that was lost.

George Crumb’s rarely performed masterpiece “Ancient Voices of Children” (1970), known for its complicated sounds and music effects, is based on the poem “Yerma” by Federico Garcia Lorca. It is the tragic legend in Lorca’s story—the clash between earthly pagan traditions and Spain’s conservative society—all of which resounds in today‘s tragic events. The story concludes:

…and, I will go very far,
farther than those hills,
farther than the seas,
to ask Christ The Lord
to give me back
my ancient soul of a child.

-Federico Garcia Lorca

Written at the same time (1969), Britten’s Song cycle, “Who Are These Children” deals with dark children themes, particularly the plight of children in the context of violence and war.

Also, in the program is an exciting new commission from Vancouver-based composer Jordan Nobles.

Conductor: Leslie Dala
Performers: Heather Pawsey, voice; Will George, voice; Anna Levy, Jane Hayes, pianos; Ari Cohen Mann, oboe; Mark Ferris, mandolin and saw; Janelle Nadeau, harp; Gregory Samek, Amber Chen, Jade Hail, percussions; and 12-year old Kai Yee.