UNSILENCED: A Decade of Musical Witness, a superlative documentary film shown at the Museum of History and Industry. John Sharify, best known as KOMO TV's Emmy-award-winning newscaster, wrote and directed this chronicle of Music of Remembrance, a Seattle-based organization dedicated to memorializing and celebrating musicians whose voices were silenced in the Holocaust. The film serves as a cautionary reminder of the unfathomable devastation of a people, highlighting the priceless musical gifts that were almost lost in the destruction of European Jewry in World War II.
Documenting Music of Remembrance's first 10 years, UNSILENCED touches upon both the personal and the universal, beginning with the emotional and professional journey of Artistic Director Mina Miller, a concert pianist new to Seattle in 1998, whose musicianship and heritage led her to give new life to the work of long-silenced musicians. Her journey took her from printing concert tickets in her home to standing center stage at Benaroya Hall.
Front and center in this film is the music itself: works by those whose journeys ultimately led them to the gas chambers - music miraculously preserved and given new life by dedicated musicians and enthusiastic audiences. Interspersed with contemporary concert footage are Nazi propaganda films of concerts filmed in the Terezín concentration camp. These films show camp inmates in musical performance - and were used to whitewash the atrocities, falsely intimating that they were treated well in the camps. Participants in the films were murdered soon after its completion. In the children's opera Brundibár (which Music of Remembrance has revived), boys and girls sang about the triumph of good over evil - and were subsequently sent to their deaths.