Oct 28 2019

Tree of Life in Berlin

Sunday evening of the Pittsburgh Symphony Tour was the first anniversary of the attack on the three congregations meeting at the Tree of life Building in Squirrel Hill on October 27 2018. It  was a travel day for the Pittsburgh Symphony leaving Hamburg and heading to Hanover.  Music Director Manfred Honeck headed to Berlin with the Clarion Quartet to visit the American Academy in Berlin. The players focus on composers who composed and performed under oppressed conditions. They played Victor Ullman, Weinberg and Shostakovich  for an enthusiastic crowd at the Arnhold House on Wannsee Lake across the way from the place where the Final Solution was planned by Nazi leadership. The house was owned by a prominent Jewish family who were bankers until the Nazis took power. After the war the house was occupied by Russians and later Americans who left in 1994. The Berlin Academy hopes to foster understanding between nations and further the work of writers and creative thinkers awarding fellowships each year.

Hans Arnhold Center home of the American Academy in Berlin

Adam Sachs who lives in Squirrel Hill but has served as a fellow in Berlin while writing  internationally distributed poetry and prose was on the panel. He took part in a discussion with the Clarion Quartet, Maestro Honeck and Harry Lieberson who has published Music and the New Global Culture From the Great Exhibitions to the Jazz Age.  Manfred Honeck quoted Leonard Bernstein and offered deeply felt observations on the musicians response to terror while fielding weighty questions such as “Isn’t it true that all music is political?”

Adam Sachs, Harry Lieberson and Manfred Honeck

All in all it was a stimulating evening and the performance alone from the Clarion would have made the evening a hit. I picked up two editions of the Berlin Journal published by the Academy with titles such as The Empathic Wit of Heinrich Heine, Afrofuturism, How Democracies Die, The Future of Work in Germany and the History of the Postcard.

The discussion is available for streaming on the American Academy website.