opera cast
Top photo: UTSA Concert Choir
Bottom photo: UTSA cast of "Brundibar"
videocam View a UTSA Choir European tour
video preview, KABB-TV, 5/23/06

UTSA Choir, Lyric Theatre leave for European tour

By Tim Brownlee
Assistant Director of Public Affairs

(May 24, 2006)--The UTSA Department of Music's Concert Choir and Lyric Theatre were invited to represent Texas in an Austrian celebration of the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth.

The two groups leave May 25 for a 10-day tour of Austria and the Czech Republic, including special performances in Terezin at the site of the World War II concentration camp and in Prague for the U.S. ambassador.

Directed by UTSA Professor John Silantien, the choir will perform in Vienna and Salzburg, Austria, as part of the "American Celebration of Music in Austria" with additional concerts in Prague, Czech Republic.

Among other selections, the choir will sing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Solemn Vespers" accompanied by the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra. The group will perform at several historic venues including the Salzburg Dom in Salzburg, Karlskirche in Vienna and St. Nicholas Church in Prague.

"On this European tour, our music students will have an incredible musical and educational experience performing for large audiences," said Silantien. "The reputation of the choir has grown dramatically in recent years, and our visibility and standing now places it among the top music programs in Texas. An invited tour such as this raises the reputation of UTSA to international status."

"On behalf of the UTSA Department of Music's Concert Choir and Lyric Theatre, the students and faculty wish to thank the many friends and community members who through their combined generosity have made this once-in-a-lifetime journey possible," Silantien added.

The choir will be joined on the tour by the UTSA Lyric Theatre troupe, which will perform the children's opera, "Brundibar," at several venues including Terezin and the American embassy in Prague.

Led by two UTSA assistant professors, production director William McCrary and music director Michael Burgess, it will be the first American presentation of "Brundibar" at Terezin. The opera originally was performed during World War II by the child prisoners at the concentration camp.

"Brundibar" is part of the UTSA Opera To Go Program, sponsored by the Opera Guild of San Antonio. The poignant children's fairy tale set to music was presented March 31 at the UTSA Downtown Campus. Outreach performances this year for nearly 10,000 children in San Antonio area elementary schools taught the lesson that we must never forget the intolerance and prejudice that led to the Holocaust.

The opera was performed 55 times by the children of the concentration camp under the direction of Jewish music teachers. The Nazi command permitted concerts at Terezin in order to delude the outside world into thinking the Jews were being treated humanely. Nearly all of the children who performed in the opera were deported to Auschwitz and died in the gas chambers.

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