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Violins of Hope: Lenka Lichtenberg's "The Secret Poetess of Terezin"
Violins of Hope: Lenka Lichtenberg's "The Secret Poetess of Terezin"

On June 2, National Music Centre presents JUNO Award-winning singer and composer Lenka Lichtenberg, featuring Drew Jurecka and Rebekah Wolkstein on strings.

Some of the instruments featured in this concert are part of the Violins of Hope exhibition, which runs at Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, from from May 3 to June 16, 2024. Violins of Hope is an exhibition and collection of historic string instruments from before and during the Holocaust. The restored instruments once belonged to victims and survivors of the Holocaust and now share the story that wherever there is music, there is hope. Ticket holders for the concert will get a chance to explore the exhibition one hour before the show and one hour after the show.

About Lenka Lichtenberg:

Lenka Lichtenberg is a Canadian musician, composer and producer who channels the rich intercultural soundscapes of her Toronto home into an evocative award-winning blend of words and music. With her soaring crystalline voice and singular artistic vision, she creates songs and stories that transcend boundaries and build bridges between cultures and communities.

Ms. Lichtenberg has been performing her entire life. Starting as a child star in her native Prague; since moving to Canada she has amassed a catalogue of eight solo recordings, and engaged in a wide variety of collaborative projects. Known for her innovative interpretations of Yiddish song, she is also cantorial soloist and lay service leader at Congregation Darchei Noam in Toronto.

Her latest album, Thieves of Dreams, is based on recently discovered poems that her grandmother wrote while imprisoned in Theresienstadt, a WWII concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. The album won a 2023 JUNO Award and was nominated for two Canadian Folk Music Awards, garnering rave reviews from fans and critics alike.

"An utterly beguiling, immersive listen. Lichtenberg's voice is a treasure."
 (Mojo Magazine UK)

"Incredibly touching. A moving way to honour history." (Talia Schlanger, CBC Q)

About "The Secret Poetess of Terezin"

"The Secret Poetess of Terezin" is based on Lenka’s award-winning Thieves of Dreams album. The intensely personal, yet ultimately universal narrative is a story of passion, of love received, embraced, rejected, and lost; of dreams and relationships evolving and dissolving under the pressure of monumental historical events. The songs (sung in both English and Czech), along with spoken word pieces, projections of archival images, and specially curated video clips, offer an immersive and intimate performing arts experience that audiences have been strongly connecting with.

The seeds for creating a performance piece based on her grandmother’s story were planted in 2021 when Toronto’s Luminato Festival asked Lenka to record a show for streaming. Building on that initial commission, the piece has continued to grow and develop, playing for audiences in Canada, Europe and South America in the last year alone. This summer it will premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and also see a homecoming presentation in Theresienstadt CZ (to be recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio3 and filmed for a Czech TV documentary).

"I remember my grandma Hana, or 'Babinka' as I called her," recalls Lenka, "as a lively, endearing person with a hearty laugh. We had so much fun together. We played cards and went to the movies. So, what I read in these poems came as a shock to me. It revealed a woman that I did not recognize.”

“Sharing my grandmother's beautiful poems as music and telling my family's story has brought me full circle, bringing my long-lost family members back into my life in what feels like a culmination of all my artistic endeavors to date. Being able to perform the show for audiences around the world fills me with joy and gratitude.“ For this performance, Lenka will be joined by two frequent collaborators, the outstanding and award-winning duo of Drew Jurecka on violin, clarinet and bandoneon, and Rebekah Wolkstein on violin and vocals. The show’s repertoire will also include some of her favorite Yiddish songs.

"A magnificent show, with great music and the beautiful performance of the author Lenka Lichtenberg, whose sweet and subtle interpretations bring a ray of happiness and hope to all those attending."
(Nicole Borger, Kleztival, Sao Paolo)