Acclaimed violinist David Lisker—a Juilliard graduate and former student of legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman—is presenting a concert, called "Echoes of Hope," celebrating the lives and music of Jewish composers affected by the Holocaust. Lisker, along with six renowned musicians, will perform works by nine inspiring individuals, eight of whom perished in concentration camps
David Lisker, recipient of the 2014 Russian Jewish Division's (RJD) Tikkun Fellowship, has been described as an "exquisite virtuoso violinist" (Chicago Sun-Times) whose "playing possesses a deeply profound musical instinct" (The Classical Network) and a "cultivated artistic taste" (Kulturas Diena, Latvia). Since arriving in the US from Russia in 1990, Lisker has gone on to perform all over the world, including New York's Carnegie Hall, Israel's Mann Auditorium, China's Shanghai Theater, Ecuador's Casa de la Musica, and Ottawa's National Arts Centre. He has performed on the PBS broadcast of Live from Lincoln Center, was featured on Bob Sherman's "Young Artist Showcase" on WQXR in New York, and was the only violinist ever to appear on David Dubal's "Piano Matters" on WWFM.
We sat down with Lisker to find out more about his project.
Russian Jewish Division: What inspired you to create "Echoes of Hope?"
David Lisker: I began researching the music of Holocaust composers four years ago, when I was asked to perform at a festival in Poland. The more I listened, the more I felt simultaneously amazed and frustrated with the fact that the music was so profoundly inspired. I realized that if these incredible artists hadn't been so needlessly murdered, they could have changed the entire course of music in the 20th century…the music was that good.
What do you aim to achieve with this event?
My goal for this project is to shed a spotlight on these brilliant musicians who were robbed of the chance to realize their potentials. For this one evening, I would like the composers to be the stars for us to appreciate them for their own sake, and not allow their contribution to be overshadowed by the Holocaust.
Do you think the average listener can appreciate the quality of the music?
At the end of the day, music is the expression of emotions through sound; one doesn't need to be a trained musician in order to appreciate the passion and everlasting hope for humanity with which these composers filled their music. Furthermore, I will be telling stories, people will see photos, so I am certain the audience will leave extremely moved, and inspired.
What would you like to say to our readers?
The only way we can attempt to salvage some dignity on behalf of all those who suffered for no reason is by spending evenings like this performing and admiring what they were able to achieve in the time allowed them.
"Echoes of Hope" concert will take place at 5 pm on Sunday, Oct. 19 at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston. For tickets and more information, visit www.liskermusicfoundation.org.
Genia Kovelman is the director of the Russian Jewish Division of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.