Category Archives: bio

Opera PUSH – online via OperaVision

PUSH opera at La Monnaie Opera House in Brussels – Online via OperaVision

OperaVision

Today , 7 August 2020, the Brussels’ PUSH opera recorded March 13, 2019 at La Monnaie Opera House has been made available online for the next 6 months (until 5 Feb. 2021) with subtitles in English, French and Dutch and with the option of auto-translation into over 100 other languages via the OperaVision platform – portal of the Opera Europa, European association of opera companies and festivals. http://operavision.eu/en

PUSH made its world première on Saturday 1 October 2016 at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill on Sea (UK). This powerfull inspirational community opera was specially commisioned from Howard Moody (composer , conductor, musical director) by Battle Festival (Sally Lampitt, festival director and producer, and Dave Furness, chairman) for Battle Festival 2016 and the ROOT 1066 International Festival in partnership with Glyndebourne and the De La Warr Pavilion. Simon Gronowski attended the premiere.

The opera is inspired by the true story of Simon Gronowski, whose mother pushed him off a train heading to Auschwitz in 1943 – an action that saved his life and gave the opera its name.

Howard Moody first met Simon Gronowski at a performance of his opera Sindbad in 2014 at La Monnaie Opera House in Brussels. Simon told the Howard the story of his escape and life and ended with the phrase “Ma Vie N’est Que Miracles !”. Moody was so moved he promised that night to write his next opera about Simon.

Howard’s opera PUSH tells the story of Simon’s escape from the 20th Convoy Train on April 19, 1943 – how his mother pushed Simon off the train – and the recent story of Simon meeting and forgiving his former camp guard of deportation camp Mechelen , some years ago.

PUSH was directed by Simon Iorio in Bexhill and later that month at the nearby St Mary’s Church in Battle , and performed by the PUSH orchestra , the Battle Festival Community Choir and PUSH singers — a cast made up of singers of all abilities from Battle and the surrounding area — children, teenagers and adults were resistance fighters, collaborators and prisoners — while three professional soloists played the roles of Simon (James Newby), Simon’s Sister (Tereza Gevorgyan) and the Guard (Matthew Stiff).

PUSH tells Simon’s story but also deals with much broader themes of persecution — a story of our times, full of themes of hope and togetherness, separation, and fear.

‘The moment that got me every time was when Simon’s sister makes her final appearance, soaring over a heart-wrenching klezmer-y tune.’ — ‘tomatopips’ ( https://tomatopips.wordpress.com/2017/02/04/ma-vie-nest-que-miracles/ )

The PUSH community opera was next performed in the UK in Salisbury and Chichester (2018), and with a special performance to mark International Holocaust Memorial Day in January 2019 at the Speaker’s House in Westminster, London (hosted by The House of Commons, Chichester MP Gillian Keegan) that was attended by leaders in the Jewish community along with members from both houses of Parliament.

March 2019 PUSH premiered in Simon Gronowski’s hometown , in Brussels at La Monnaie Opera House and was performed in the presence of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium and Simon Gronowski and family. Director of the Brussels’ performance was Benoît De Leersnyder and Howard was conductor of La Monnaie’s Chamber Music Ensemble with a mixed youth and adult Chorus / La Monnaie’s Children’s and Youth Chorus. Soloists were James Newby (Simon), Sheva Tehoval (Simon’s sister) , Ivan Ludlow (Guard) and Felix Cooper / Thylan Aerts / Milo Avalosse / Djurre Diels (Young Simon). Lighting designer was Ace McCarron. Sets & Costumes by Emilie Lauwers and both Emilie Lauwers & Simon Van Rompay did the Video work.

PUSH Opera – Finale with giant choir – Lockdown 2020 🇧🇪 🇬🇧

Finally, during the lockdown 2020, singers from all four casts of the previous productions in Belgium and UK – Bexhill, Battle, Salisbury, Chichester, London and Brussels – recorded their parts to create a virtual giant choir of over 150 opera singers.
The film ‘My life is only miracles’ – the finale of Howard Moody‘s opera PUSH – was edited by Shogo Hino – with additional work by Michel van der Burg , Miracles.Media – and released online the night of April 19th 2020 to mark the 77th anniversary of protagonist Simon Gronowski’s escape from the death train Transport XX to Auschwitz. That night more than 200 prisoners escaped from the train before the German border after three Brussels resistance heroes stopped that Nazi train Transport XX, transporting 1600 Jewish deportees to Auschwitz.

Link : https://youtu.be/-sm1rI-j5iE

Following the online premiere of this virtual performance of Howard Moody’s PUSH finale that was created during lockdown , the La Monnaie Opera House too made available temporarily last April for screening online the entire opera of PUSH, performed in March 2019 in Brussels.

OperaVision featuring PUSH online

Today , 7 August 2020, the Brussels’ PUSH opera recorded March 13, 2019 has been made available online for the next 6 months (until 5 Feb. 2021) with subtitles in English, French and Dutch and with the option of auto-translation into over 100 other languages via the OperaVision platform – portal of the Opera Europa, European association of opera companies and festivals. http://operavision.eu/en

OperaVision is showing both :
– Push — Finale with virtual chorus , screening a copy from the operavision youtube channel. link http://operavision.eu/en/library/ausschnitte/push-finale

– Push: Jumping into life . The story behind the opera. link http://operavision.eu/en/library/feuilleton/push-jumping-life

– Push. The opera as recorded March 13, 2019. link http://operavision.eu/en/library/performances/operas/push-la-monnaie

 

Documentary film “Transport XX to Auschwitz”

Online free full documentary with Simon Gronowski , link https://michelvanderburg.com/2013/04/19/transport-xx-to-auschwitz/

 

Interview with with Sue Kent and Howard Moody

Interview with with Sue Kent and Howard Moody. By Wiltshire Creative , April 2020
This Big Interview is with composer Howard Moody and Sue Kent, founder member of Salisbury Arts Centre and general manager of La Folia. They are in conversation with Wiltshire Creative’s Take Part Director, Louise Dancy.
link https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=565415244109794

 

NEWS

Opera PUSH – online via OperaVision 2020-2021

Push. The opera as recorded March 13, 2019 , La Monnai, Brussels. link http://operavision.eu/en/library/performances/operas/push-la-monnaie

Las micro-óperas digitales creadas durante el confinamiento llegan a OperaVision – Ópera Actual , Aug 2, 2020 by Lourdes Morgades
link https://www.operaactual.com/noticia/las-micro-operas-digitales-creadas-durante-el-confinamiento-llegan-a-operavision/

Virtual Opera PUSH Finale – Lockdown April 2020

Virtual Opera PUSH Epilogue ~ Ma Vie N’est Que Miracles by Michel van der Burg
link https://michelvanderburg.com/2020/04/19/virtual-opera-push-epilogue-ma-vie-nest-que-miracles/

Cross-border chorus recalls incredible bravery of 20th Convoy escape – The Bulletin 19/04/2020 -Written by Sally Tipper (Flanders Today)
https://www.thebulletin.be/cross-border-chorus-recalls-incredible-bravery-20th-convoy-escape

Opera Stars Will Join Forces to Perform the Finale of PUSH; Video to Debut April 18
by BWW News Desk Apr. 16, 2020
link https://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwopera/article/Opera-Stars-Will-Join-Forces-to-Perform-the-Finale-of-PUSH-Video-to-Debut-April-18-20200416

Chichester and Bexhill singers join online commemoration of Belgian Resistance heroism – Mid Sussex Times by Phil Hewitt
Wednesday, 22nd April 2020
link https://www.midsussextimes.co.uk/whats-on/arts-and-entertainment/chichester-and-bexhill-singers-join-online-commemoration-belgian-resistance-heroism-2543751

PUSH in Brussels 2019

Push. The opera as recorded March 13, 2019 , La Monnai, Brussels. link http://operavision.eu/en/library/performances/operas/push-la-monnaie

Ateliers Monnaie PUSH
https://michelvanderburg.com/2020/04/18/ateliers-monnaie-push/

PUSH by Emilie Lauwers
link https://www.emilielauwers.be/PUSH

PUSH | Wat een push met je leven kan doen
link https://www.cultuurkuur.be/project/push-wat-een-push-met-je-leven-kan-doen-0

Battle Festival – World premiere 2016 

PUSH Opera – Bexhill | Battle Festival 2016
PUSH Opera – Live recording of the world premiere on 1 October 2016 at the De La Warr Pavilion – Music and libretto by Howard Moody – Commissioned by Battle Festival
online link https://vimeo.com/199353255

PUSH for tolerance and togetherness in landmark opera – Hastings & St Leonards Observer By The Newsroom, Friday, 1st July 2016
https://www.hastingsobserver.co.uk/news/push-tolerance-and-togetherness-landmark-opera-1224957

BBC News – Opera PUSH tells how a young boy escaped Auschwitz horror
link https://michelvanderburg.com/2016/10/07/bbc-news-opera-push-tells-how-a-young-boy-escaped-auschwitz-horror/

Last Performance Of PUSH Opera – by Heidi Foster – October 13, 2016 RYE | NEWS
link https://www.ryenews.org.uk/culture/last-performance-push-opera

Ma Vie N’est Que Miracles – by tomatopips.wordpress , February 4, 2017
link https://tomatopips.wordpress.com/2017/02/04/ma-vie-nest-que-miracles/

 

Robert Clary Story World Premiere 13 Nov 2018 in Hollywood , FL

FROM BUCHENWALD TO HOLLYWOOD, THE ROBERT CLARY STORY
A truly inspiring film about a Hollywood legend by Karen and Richard Bloom and Michel van der Burg .

World Premiere on November 13, 2018 at Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF) , in Cinema Paradiso , Hollywood, Florida , USA .

Trailer

The producers of Transport XX to Auschwitz and Defending Holocaust History are proudly bringing to the screen, the inspirational film, From Buchenwald to Hollywood, The Robert Clary Story, about a Hollywood legend, an internationally known actor, Broadway star, singer, artist, author and Holocaust lecturer.

Mr. Clary is widely known for his role as Corporal Lebeau on the long running TV series Hogan’s Heroes. What is little known by the public is that Robert’s real last name is Widerman, and in 1942 at the age of 16, he and thirteen members of his family were rounded up in Paris, France and deported by the Nazis to concentration camps. He was the only one to survive, having endured 31 months in four Nazi camps and a death march until his liberation from Buchenwald by the U.S. Army on April 11, 1945. He was discovered singing in a Paris nightclub in 1947, signed to a recording contract and brought to the United States in 1949 where he met Merv Griffin, who introduced him to Eddie and Ida Cantor and their daughter, Natalie, who he would later marry.

The Robert Clary Story – World Premiere – Cinema Paradiso Hollywood , Tuesday , Nov 13, 2018

More at the today updated site of Richard Bloom Productions – http://richardbloomproductions.com – and the FLIFF site at http://www.fliff.com

① memo 20180923 ~ Robert Clary Story World Premiere 13 Nov 2018 in Hollywood , FL

Robert Clary Story at Fort Lauderdale Int’l Film Festival

I have some wonderful news to share today.
Our documentary “From Buchenwald to Hollywood – The Robert Clary Story” will have its world premiere at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF).
This year the 33rd Annual Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival will take place November 2 -18.
The festival screens films in Fort Lauderdale, Sunrise, Hollywood, St Augustine, and the Bahamas and is considered one of the most important regional film festivals in the U.S.
So once we have more information regarding screenings I will post it on my website.

A truly inspiring film about a Hollywood legend :
From Buchenwald to Hollywood , The Robert Clary Story
A film by Karen and Richard Bloom and Michel van der Burg

Richard Bloom Productions produced a new documentary about legendary actor, Broadway star, singer, artist, author and Holocaust lecturer, Robert Clary.
Mr. Clary is widely known for his role as Corporal Lebeau on the long running TV series Hogan’s Heroes.
What is little known by the public is that Robert’s real last name is Widerman, and in 1942 at the age of 16, he and thirteen members of his family were rounded up in Paris, France and deported by the Nazis to concentration camps. He was the only one of 14 immediate family members to survive, having endured 31 months in four Nazi camps and a death march until his liberation from Buchenwald by the U.S. Army on April 11, 1945.
He was discovered singing in a Paris nightclub in 1947, signed to a recording contract and brought to the United States in 1949 where he met Merv Griffin, who introduced him to Eddie and Ida Cantor and their daughter, Natalie, who he would later marry.
His inspiring story will be shared with the world in Richard Bloom Productions’ documentary : From Buchenwald to Hollywood, The Robert Clary Story .
More at Richard Bloom Productions http://richardbloomproductions.com

20180919 ~ Robert Clary Story at Fort Lauderdale Int’l Film Festival .

Full of Life … Escape from Transport XX


① memo 20180419 ~ Full of Life … Escape from Transport XX ~ Today 75 years ago , that night of April 19th, 1943 in Belgium , Elias Gnazik helped jump the pregnant Isabella Weinreb from the fast moving 20th train heading for Auschwitz. Viviane – meaning ‘full of life’ – was born 6 months later.
Discussion – moderated by Ingrid Vander Veken – of Simone Korkus’ dutch book “Het dienstmeisje van Degrelle” on 15 oktober 2017 in Kazerne Dossin , Mechelen , Belgium.
This new short film (with english captions / partly english spoken) highlights our discussion in that ‘Literary Cafe’ on Oct. 15, 2017 in Kazerne Dossin, of Elias’ rescue of Isabella and Vivian ; it continues with our visit later to the Kazerne Dossin portrait wall (portrait’s of deported people) with Simone Korkus and Jan Maes (the first to point Simone to Hannah’s story) ; and ends with me having a short improvised talk in english with a visitor’s couple .
Film ① memo 20180419 ~ Full of Life ~ Michel van der Burg | michelvanderburg.com | 1-memo.com | miracles.media

Isabella Weinreb Castegnier was three-months pregnant that night – 75 years ago – on April 19th, 1943 in Belgium – when she froze the moment she had to jump from the fast moving 20th train heading for Auschwitz ( Transport XX to Auschwitz ). The man waiting in line behind her , did not hesitate for a moment , and embracing her from behind , pushed her out – jumping together they both landed in a ditch.

Isabella escaped with a broken wrist and bruises all over her body, but otherwise without major injuries. Her daughter Viviane – meaning “full of life”, and named so for her will to live and hold tight in her mother’s womb – was born six months later on October 30, 1943.

That man saving Isabella and Viviane was Elias Gnazik – we discovered recently in a joint effort – when Simone Korkus had almost finished her book about the life of Elias’ daughter Hannah Gnazik , and contacted me to find out who that woman was that Elias Gnazik helped jump and escape from that cattle car of Transport XX to Auschwitz. For Simone it was a great honor to bring Hannah and Viviane together – the child of the rescuer , and the child of the rescued pregnant woman.
This new story became the epilogue in Simone’s book , written in dutch , called ‘Het Dienstmeisje Van Degrelle’.
During the discussion at the presentation of Simone’s newest book – interviewed by Ingrid Vander Veken – in the Kazerne Dossin museum I asked Simone to tell us something about this spectacular story of the probably youngest that escaped that death train.

Background

Simone Korkus (author , reporter) contacted me via facebook messenger May 2016 asking for information about Mrs Lilly (Wolkenfeld) Schwartz , and telling me Mrs Schwartz had escaped from Transport XX from the same car as Elias Gnazik , the father of Hannah (Gnazik) Nadel.
Simone had actually finished the writing of the story of Hannah (Gnazik) Nadel for her new dutch book “Het dienstmeisje van Degrelle.” but felt she would like to get to know more about Hannah’s father Elias activities in the war.
Mrs Lilly (Wolkenfeld) Schwartz had helped me and Richard from 2011 with our documentary Transport XX to Auschwitz (published 2012, a film by Karen Lynne & Richard Bloom and Michel van der Burg). Mrs Schwartz, unfortunately, had passed away in 2014 .
However , I could help Simone with the story of Mrs Schwartz’s friend Isabella – who had escaped too , right after Mrs Schwartz’s jumped from that car – while being pregnant – with a baby born 6 months after that escape, and named Viviane , meaning ‘full of life’ !
That miraculous story I had first worked on and published together with Viviane in 2014.
Further research by Simone , with the help of Viviane and the researchers of Kazerne Dossin, let Simone to the insight that Isabella had been that pregnant woman Elias Gnazik had helped jumping , and he thus , too had saved Viviane’s life !
Simone Korkus details this beautiful finding and miraculous story in a final chapter – the Epilogue – of her new book , the research , findings , conclusion and her witnessing the emotional meeting of the daughters of the rescuer and rescued in Ramat Gan , Israel.

Sources / links

Viviane Castegnier Yarom & Michel van der Burg (2014) Escape from Transport XX – to be born 6 months later – Viviane’s story.
Michel van der Burg online publication (michelvanderburg.com) link https://wp.me/p14gqN-nq

Simone Korkus (2017) “Het dienstmeisje van Degrelle. Hoe Hannah Nadel de oorlog overleefde” Paperback ISBN 978-94-6310-093-9 / E-book ISBN 978-94-6310-300-8
Polis publisher – fragment online – https://issuu.com/uitgeverijpolis/docs/preview_het_dienstmeisje_van_degrel

Book presentation – On Oct. 15th , 2017 , Simone Korkus presented her book in Kazerne Dossin , in a ‘Literary Cafe’ conversation with colleague author Ingrid Vander Veken. I published a full video report of that conversation Nov 4, 2017 . All in dutch. Het Dienstmeisje Van Degrelle – Presentatie – link https://wp.me/p14gqN-nhp

Documentary film “Transport XX to Auschwitz” (2012) A film by Karen Lynne & Richard Bloom and Michel van der Burg https://wp.me/p14gqN-hA

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Souvenir Simon

① memo 20160511 ~ Souvenir Simon ~ Richard Bloom writing for Simon Gronowski a souvenir on the flyer of our film documentary « Transport XX to Auschwitz » in Kazerne Dossin , Mechelen, Belgium – May 11, 2014.
I finally saw Karen and Richard Bloom in the flesh in Amsterdam , May 10, 2014 – after years of working together ‘in the cloud’ from opposite sides of the ocean on our film documentary « Transport XX to Auschwitz » . Next day, May 11, we drove together from Amsterdam to Mechelen ,  to meet up with Simon Gronowski and friends in the Kazerne Dossin in Mechelen , Belgium.

Film Filmer Transport XX

① memo 20160228 #2 ~ Film Filmer Transport XX ~ A second version now of the film posted earlier today.
This #2 version has the image stabilised (using editing software Final Cut X) and to optimise the stabilisation results the video is shortened also.
This video was made while I was filming in one long take one row of the portraits of the TRANSPORT XX installation in Brussels, on February 28, 2009.
The short film I made then, and info on the TRANSPORT XX installation in Brussels , is available via this link on my web site.

Film Filmer Transport XX

① memo 20160228 ~ Film Filmer Transport XX ~ I was not aware that day of this video being made of me while filming in one long take one row of the portraits of the TRANSPORT XX installation in Brussels, on February 28, 2009.
The short film I made then, and info on the TRANSPORT XX installation in Brussels , is available in this post on my web site.