NCS Chorus Members Respond to Singing Annelies


On Sadness:

Performing Annelies, I become her. It’s especially so in part 4 singing and repeating ” We’re Jews in chains, chained to one spot, without any rights, a thousand obligations. We must be brave and trust in God.” I feel the suffering, strength and hope.


So many of the words we are singing from Anne’s diary were written in 1942, the year I was born.  I have known about the Holocaust since I was a child and no longer should be shocked and bewildered when confronted by accounts of it as an adult.  That said, I have yet to be able to get through a Youtube performance of Annelies without breaking down completely.  I can’t imagine how we (NCS singers) will be able to focus on the music when hearing the entire piece for the first time with chamber musicians and soloist at the dress rehearsal.

–David Clarridge

When she says that this will be the last night in her own bed… that brings up such feelings of loss.

–Patty Gutta


In honor of someone:

*I sing in loving remembrance of my father, Walter Less, and his family – Leopold, Anni, Walter, Kate and Ernst – who escaped from Germany, forced to leave everything behind. My grandfather, Leopold, (ID # 11135) was imprisoned in the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen on Kristallnacht (November 9, 1938).

–Margaret McQuillan


*To my Hebrew school principal and teacher, Yaakov (Jacob) Riz, whose entire family was sent to Auschwitz, where all except his brother perished. He believed that people must learn about the horrors of the Holocaust so that we, as a society, never forget.

–Brian Greenberg

*[I am] singing in honor of my elementary school principal, Dr. Leon Bass, who fought the Battle of the Bulge as Sergeant in an African-American segregated Army unit. Dr. Bass was in the forces that liberated the concentration camp at Buchenwald in April 1945. He spent much of his life teaching students tolerance and respect for all individuals and cultures. (To see a video interview with Dr. Bass, click here.)

–Brian Greenberg

As I sing, I can’t help wondering how it felt to my grandmother to live with her two little kids and her German immigrant parents while her husband fought the Germans in France and Germany during WWI.

–Carol Yunker

Remembrance honors the victims of all holocausts, trying to ensure that their suffering won’t have been in vain. It isn’t they who need the remembering, but us. We sing to give voice to our own dignity and our own capacity for compassion, for grief, for outrage, and for hope – for ourselves and a better future.

–Mary Jacobsen

I sing Annelies in memory of my late grandmother, a survivor of the blockade and genocide of Leningrad, as well as family members murdered in the Holocaust — and in the hope that we will all be able to live in a world free of naked hate and unbridled cruelty.

–Solomon Berman

I sing to honor Anne’s courage and humanity. We are all people and where we have life, we have hope. We look to the blue sky. I have a Jewish sister-in-law and niece, as well as a gay daughter who is married with two beautiful children.  They all would have been immediate targets of the Nazis.  The horror the Nazi regime inflicted on the world is still too close to the surface of society. Us vs. Them is too easy. The words being people again haunts me. We are people.

— Vicki Bushey


On Knowing Anne Frank

I knew Anne from the Montessori School of Amsterdam.  We were in a group together in the school and could decide what we wanted to work on during the day. She was two years older than me so I wasn’t close to her, but we were close as a group.  We would hang around together and walk to school together.  Then Anne and my other Jewish girlfriends were gone and never came back.  It was a terrible, terrible time.

Soldiers with guns blocked off the streets with trucks and they went to house to house. If there was a Jew, they were torn out into the street, lined up, and taken away. It was horrible and everyone was terrified. If anyone tried to do something they were shot. [My late husband’s] family took a Jewish couple into hiding for three years in Amsterdam; they couldn’t let them die.

When I was 8 years old, the underground put newspapers and flyers under my clothes, to take to other people at night.  We had the BBC radio broadcasts on, which was illegal, and we would distribute the notes. There was a curfew and we were not supposed to be out in the dark but I was a blond little thing and wasn’t stopped. I thought it was terrific because I was doing something…but it was dangerous.

–Rie Feenstra


On being German

*As a native German I grew up with a strong feeling of collective guilt. Our German national anthem – including the beautiful melody from Haydn’s Emperor string quartet – was usurped by Hitler (“Deutschland, Deutschland über alles”). The resurgence of nationalism in many countries is incomprehensible and concerning to me.

–Bettina Turner

As I sing, I can’t help wondering how it felt to my grandmother to live with her two little kids and her German immigrant parents while her husband fought the Germans in France and Germany during WWI.

–Carol Yunker


On not being able to sing Annelies

As a Holocaust survivor’s child, I grew up hearing, “If God is real, where is my family?” I knew it would be challenging to sing Annelies, so I decided to try to desensitize myself by listening to it beforehand. However, within an hour of the first rehearsal, the tears started. I felt not only the pain of my own family, but also the sadness, disappointment, and terrible fear of how cruel we can be to each other – a reality all too prevalent in the current political climate. While I chose not to sing, I know that listening to this concert will be cathartic and important for both audience and performers. This extraordinary piece reminds us that there is indeed something divine in the human spirit.

–Debbie Szabo


On Annelies

*Rehearsing Annelies, I descended into hell; with Anne Frank I went unafraid, and I arose…

–Bob Brodsky

I sing Annelies to remember her, and to remain awake to the dangers and beauty of this world.

–Lucy B.
*We sing Annelies in memory of the people who heard the knock on the door in World War II, and in solidarity with those who hear it today.

–Carroll and Kathleen Tucker Gustafson

” I sing for the blue sky and the chestnut tree and their power to uplift the human spirit.”

–Meg Atkins

The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to “see” something and tell what it saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, and thousands can think for one who can see. My own thought about singing this piece is this: The power and majesty of this piece ennobles my life each time we sing it.

–Suzanne Cox

It is so uplifting to participate in this powerful musical legacy of Anne Frank, to lift my voice in the sharing of her words, so “their voice continues to be heard.”

–Darcy Holland

Singing Annelies has been an emotional experience filled with much sadness but also hope.  We must never forget nor ever let it happen again!

–Beth DiGiuseppe

I sing with NCS for the joy, peace, and unity it brings to others and me.

–Jana Whiting

I sing Annelies for all the oppressed people in the world.

–Lindsey Rodie

Focused elsewhere, with Annelies playing in the background, I suddenly found myself in tears, rewound to hear the words and completely understood why. The composition itself had wrapped around my heart – as powerfully evocative a piece as I’d ever heard.


I sing for the blue sky and the chestnut tree and their power to uplift the human spirit.

–Meg Atkins

Viscerally stunning:  Hope and fear, a creak on the stairs. Breath. Haunting and beautiful.  Moving and raw.

–Nancy Cahan

On Sadness:

When I began [working on] Annelies, I knew I was singing for the misunderstood and broken souls who live and have lived among us.

–Judy-Marie Letendre

How do I sing and cry at the same time?

–An NCS singer.


On education

*I sing because I want my students to know that our voices can be powerful.

–Kerri MacLennan

*I sing for my students – immigrants and children of immigrants – who are afraid.

–Sue Noyes

Ten years ago, because we love singing and we work at home, we joined NCS for music, fellowship and release. Monday night we’d leave the studio, relax and sing. For several months we have been restoring old movies for the archives of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  For weeks at a time, our hands and eyes work on images of communities in and around 1930s Germany. We have worked on movies of the early activities of the people’s party, Volk festivals, SS gatherings — as well as many lively home movies of Jewish families before they were systematically murdered in the Holocaust.

This week, we turn from the news of the day to films made by David Boder. He recorded eyewitness accounts of “displaced persons” soon after World War II. “Displaced persons” are with us still.  To cope, I write poems. My husband writes short essays for the local newspaper. We turn to the relief of music, and are given the words of a girl in a garret.

Sometimes God in her wisdom says, “Pay attention.”  When you don’t, she sends another note. When you still go on, she trips you up and you go sprawling on your face. So it works in our house. We see small increments of evil – carefully crafted steps of the early rise of the party – juxtaposed with images of family, birthdays and vacations, families alive and vibrant. We look back and it takes our breath away.

Anne Frank lives. Miep Gies and her father brought her diary to light and Whitbourn turned it into song to share.  We hum as one unit; we focus our breathing. To honor Anne, the displaced, the dead, to express ourselves in all our particularity and humanity, we join our voices.

–Toni Treadway

To see Bob Brodsky’s article, click here.

Author: ncsadmin

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