The Greenwood School of Music will present A Forgotten Composer of Terezin: Songs of James Simon, featuring April Golliver-Mohiuddin, mezzo-soprano; Richard Novak, tenor, Texas State University, and Pi-Ju Chiang, piano. The free event be January 18 at 7 p.m. in the Seretean Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall.
Simon’s biography is a history of missed opportunities for emigration and greater success. Born September 29, 1880, in Berlin, he attended the prestigious Musikhochschule, where he studied composition with Max Bruch. He then went on to pursue studies in musicology at Ludwig Maximilians Universtät in Munich, where he completed a doctoral dissertation on “Abt Voglers Kompositorische Werke” (On the Compositions of AbbéGeorg Vogler) in 1904. In 1906, he published a book on musical representations of Faust, “Faust in der Musik.” A year later, Simon returned to Berlin, securing a position at the Klindworth-Scharwenka Conservatory, where he remained until 1919. Thereafter, he appears to have made a living composing, and through private teaching, and performing.
After the Nazis rose to power, Simon moved to Zurich, living there from early 1933-1938. At this point, there was another missed opportunity in Simon’s life: he visited Palestine, perhaps with a view to emigrating, but after a few appearances in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem as both performer and lecturer (speaking in German), he decided to return to Europe and settled in Amsterdam.
When Germany invaded Holland on May 10, 1940, Simon was trapped; in the spring of 1941, he was deported to the transit camp Westerbork, and from there to Terezin (Theresienstadt). For the next four years, he participated in the musical life of the so-called “model” ghetto, presenting musicological lectures and performing. On July 9, 1944, he set Psalm 126 for Karel Fischer’s Durra-Chor, which was performed in the camp. On October 12, 1944, he was deported with a number of other distinguished musicians to Auschwitz, where he was gassed upon arrival.
Golliver-Mohiuddin, an OSU associate professor of voice, holds a master of music in vocal performance from the prestigious Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and a bachelor of music in vocal performance from Oklahoma City University. She was the recipient of the 2013 Friends of Music Distinguished Music Professor Award and the 2008 Wise-Diggs-Berry Award for Teaching Excellence.
Novak has established a national reputation as a professional tenor and voice teacher. He has performed with Washington Concert Opera, Opera Carolina, San Antonio Opera, Alamo City Opera, Opera Piccola, Annapolis Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Wichita Grand Opera, The Living Opera, Wagner Society of Washington, San Antonio Symphony, San Antonio Chamber Choir, San Antonio Choral Society, Chautauqua Symphony, Prince William Symphony, the Monroe Symphony, the Conservatorio di Musica Agostino Steffani in Castelfranco Veneto (Italy), the Institute of Culture in Culiacán and Mazatlán (Mexico), and the Sulzbach-Rosenberg International Music Festival (Germany).
Chiang is a collaborative pianist for OSU. She is an active recital pianist and collaborative artist who appears frequently in solo, chamber and collaborative recitals in Taiwan, North America and Mexico. She made her Taiwanese debut as a collaborative artist at the annual opera gala in 1996, performing Monteverdi's L'orfeo. During this time, she was also the private accompanist for Angelo Marenzi, a voice faculty member at the Taipei National University of Art (TNUA) in Taiwan. Her experience as a collaborative pianist has taken her to the Bari Opera Theater in Italy where she performed two operas in 1997 - La Bohème and Il Travatore. She was the first Taiwanese pianist to perform these two complete major operatic works in Italy and has since started building her international career as a talented collaborative pianist.