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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/

 

Virtual tour JR: Chronicles in Brooklyn Museum

Virtual tour JR: Chronicles in Brooklyn Museum

Brooklyn Museum video wall JR: Chronicles. Reportage October 2019 as part of our Beguinage Project Series by Kristen Cattell & Michel van der Burg | miracles.media

Join the Brooklyn Museum virtual tour of JR: Chronicles …
the first major exhibition in North America of works by the French-born artist JR. Working at the intersections of photography, social engagement, and street art, JR often collaborates with communities by making portraits and wheat pasting them in nearby public spaces. See how JR has expanded the meaning of public art through his ambitious projects that give visibility and agency to a broad spectrum of people around the world.
Created by Sharon Matt Atkins, Director of Exhibitions and Strategic Initiatives, and Drew Sawyer, Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Curator, Photography, Brooklyn Museum. Tune in next Sunday for another tour of the Brooklyn Museum galleries!

Visit Virtual Tour Here  :

https://brooklynmuseum.tumblr.com/post/617029712489906176/join-us-for-a-virtual-tour-of-jr-chronicles-the

Virtual Video Wall Tour

A virtual video wall tour focusing on our project presentation there was published by Kristen Cattell and me , as : “JR: New York Show – Afghan Refugees Inside Out Belgium”
… a Brooklyn Museum reportage made October 2019 by Kristen Cattell as part of our Beguinage Project Series. Film : JR: New York Show – Afghan Refugees Inside Out Belgium (20200206) by Kristen Cattell & Michel van der Burg | miracles.media . Link https://wp.me/p14gqN-nqs

Video ~ JR: New York Show – Afghan Refugees Inside Out Belgium

BBC News – Opera PUSH tells how a young boy escaped Auschwitz horror

transport-xx-to-auschwitz-scene-chana-and-ita-gronowski

BBC News – 2 October 2016 – now with online video (click image above)

How a young boy escaped Auschwitz horror

A new opera tells the story of how 11-year-old Simon Gronowski escaped incarceration in Auschwitz in 1943, after being pushed from the train transporting the family to the camp by his mother.

NOTES
1) Source of this BBC film poster image – of Simon’s mother Chana (Kaplan) Gronowski, and his sister Ita – is our doco Transport XX to Auschwitz –  available online via Richard Bloom’s youtube channel.
More info on this film is posted at this site in this post : Documentary film “Transport XX to Auschwitz

2) Below more on PUSH in a post published February 4 , 2017  by one of the participants ‘Pippa’  (found online January 30 , 2018)

Ma vie n’est que miracles

Inge’s Tiroler New Year’s Concert

Inge’s Tiroler New Year’s Concert

Inge’s Tiroler New Year’s Concert -video online

Inge Hartmann in concert in Gasthof Turmbichl in Vill , Innsbruck, Tirol, Austria on New Year’s Day 2014 – filmed ,  using a simple compact camera.
 Click the image on top to watch the video on youtube ,
or watch it here  below

Justice ! Successful solidarity march for Afghan refugees in Brussels

Justice! Very successful solidarity march by Belgians and Afghans for the Afghan refugees in Brussels , today 2 years ago (20 nov 2013). Many are now regularized.

Belgians and Afghan refugees march for justice – Brussels 20 nov 2013

Justice!  Very successful solidarity march by Belgians and Afghans for the Afghan refugees in Brussels , today 2 years ago (20 nov 2013). Many are now regularized. One of these refugees I know – Kamran – recently got visa for his wife and kids to come to Belgium. He started just days ago a fresh start for his family in Belgium .. and a gofundme campaign for some help for his family — while he himself is helping tonight newcomers in the rainy streets of Brussels.

Video report Afghans & Belgians « We want justice »

Background (together with my NY partner Kristen Cattell) in the Beguinage church in Brussels.

Afghan refugees in Brussels – Beguinage Project

 May 28th, 2014 report* from the Afghan refugees camp in the Saint John the Baptist church at the Béguinage in Brussels (Belgium) – click 1st image to start slideshow

Beguinage Project

In March 2014 I traveled to Brussels, Belgium to meet a group of Afghans living inside an old Catholic church. At the time, nearly one hundred Afghan refugees had set up camp within the walls of the seventeenth century compound. There were camping tents and make-shift walls within the Baroque interior. Respectfully abiding by the teachings of Islam, the main religious practice of the Afghans living in the Catholic church, there was one side for woman and children and one side for males.

Their shoes were piled up outside of the doors of their tents and warm pots of chai were passed around during mealtime. On a sunny afternoon dozens joined in on a game of cricket, cautious to not start a scene or cause too much noise. All they could do at this point was wait for a potential interview date and hope to receive legal status in a country that they could only half-heartedly call home.

A majority of the males I spoke with were well-educated; most speaking French, Dutch, and English in addition to their native Afghan language of Dari or Pashto. Their skills and experiences as translators, guards, and service men in Afghanistan had threatened their livelihood and ultimately forced them to flee their homeland. The priest of the church, Daniel Alliet, opened the space to the Afghan refugees because he disagreed with Belgium’s asylum policy.

One Afghan gentleman, who asked to remain anonymous, told me about his journey to Brussels: “When you are working with America or other organizations in Afghanistan the Taliban is a big problem. I was with the forces in Kandahar Province for one year. This was a big, big company in Kandahar. After one year the Taliban send some letters to my family saying, ‘Your son is working for the enemy.’ And they said, ‘He will come and he will work with us.’ Then I went to my home. And after the Taliban found out about me, I came to Iran, then I went to Europe, and this country.”

At present, the situation continues to evolve: the church is now used as an Afghan community center instead of a shelter, some have been granted alternative housing accommodations throughout the country, and many refugees were granted the right to stay in the country legally. In Brussels, and around the world, Afghans are facing the harsh realities of displacement while others are struggling to resettle without official resident status, nevertheless, their strength is what binds them and they tirelessly continue to fight for justice.

Text: Kristen Cattell / Photography : Michel van der Burg

Special thanks to Isabelle Marchal and the many friends that welcomed us , and also others whose works were on display at the church and are shown in these pictures.

* Update Sept 6th 2015 – Our full report first appeared May 28th, 2014 (via the now no longer existing web site “Rising Afghans”) and is now fully included here.
Republishing of the short second photo report that appeared also then , will follow soon (the Inside Out project by JR – with original portraits by Chiara Ravano – at Salon Mommen, Brussels.)

Update Nov 15, 2015 – Added video “Béguinage shadows”

Update Nov 19, 2015 – Added info (below) on the  silent solidarity march for Afghan refugees in Brussels Nov 20th 2013 – “Belgians and Afghans demand justice”

Belgians and Afghans demand justice

Belgians and Afghans demand justice – Video report by Michel van der Burg. Belgians and Afghan refugees demand Belgium changes its asylum policy.
Speeches by Amir Mohammad Jafari (12 y, student and Afghan refugee in Belgium) & Simon Gronowski (Belgian lawyer) 20 nov 2013 on the arrival of the silent solidarity march for Afghan refugees in Brussels. « link to full post »