IN THE NEWS: Composer visits area, meets survivors

Shani McManus

Jewish Journal

Dec 11, 2012

Carl Davis, world renowned conductor and composer who has written an acclaimed musical tribute to the Kindertransport movement, visited Palm Beach County last week and met with leaders of Holocaust organizations and survivors.

Davis' composition, "The Last Train to Tomorrow," a piece for orchestra, children's choir and young actors, tells the story of children from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia on rescue trains to England before the start of World War II. The composition recently premiered in England, and if Boca Raton resident Brenda Wertheim has her way, South Floridians will also get a chance to hear it.

Wertheim, vice president of NEXT GENERATIONS saw the piece performed in Manchester, England, contacted Davis and convinced him to bring his composition to Florida to benefit Holocaust survivors.

"I'm sure anyone watching this brilliant piece would be moved, but for me it went much deeper," she said. "My father was one of those Kinder. He left from the Berlin train station as described in one of the songs. Through [Carl's'] work, I relived his journey.

"By creating this brilliant masterpiece, he is keeping my father's story and all those who traveled on the Kindertransport alive," Wertheim said. "He is honoring all those who survived and all those who perished. Through art, he is educating so many people on the lessons of the Holocaust."

Plans are underway to premiere "The Last Train to Tomorrow," in South Florida next year during the Kristallnacht anniversary. The BBC is currently filming a documentary about Davis to be shown in February, and the effort to bring the production to South Florida will be featured. Proceeds from the Florida premiere will go to the Nancy Dershaw Grant for Holocaust Survivors in Need.

"On behalf of NEXT GENERATIONS, we feel honored, and proud that a world renowned composer, such as Carl Davis recognizes the importance of our organization," Nancy Dershaw, founder and president of NEXT GENERATIONS said.

"Mr. Davis has given his endorsement and support to NEXT GENERATIONS and our mission to continue to educate and to make sure that the survivors of today can live in dignity after the years of suffering through the horrific regime of the Nazis," she noted.

In addition to NEXT GENERATIONS, Davis also met with leaders of Alpert Jewish Family Services, Ruth Rales Jewish Family Services, the Kinder Transport Association and Florida Atlantic University. He also met with a group of Holocaust survivors.

"I met with Carl Davis to discuss AJFCS's role in the provision of care and services to Holocaust survivors," Jenni Frumer, associate executive director of AJFCS in West Palm Beach said. "It was a moving experience to hear him discuss his insight and genuine motivation for composing the orchestral music and score to, 'Last Train To Tomorrow.'"

Cindy Orbach Nimhauser, director of development at RRJFS in Boca Raton said Davis brings the Kindertransport experience alive.

"Through his heartfelt work, Davis conveys the emotion as well as the history of Kindertransport," she said. "It is a great honor to us and to the aging survivors we care for that an artist of his stature has invested such time and talent in a work that will help preserve the memory and the lessons of the Holocaust through such a powerful vehicle."

Davis, originally from New York before moving to England in the '60s, also stopped by the Jewish Journal to discuss his composition and Jewish background.

"The Holocaust was always in my consciousness, and I thought [traveling on the Kindertransport] was a fantastic thing for children to do," he said. "It's a positive story because all these children survived."

Davis became interested in the subject after seeing his famous actress wife, Jean Boht, perform in the play "Kindertransport" in London.

"My wife had a leading role in the play," he said. "I saw it and felt this was something I wanted to follow up on. I thought I'd tell the story of the journey. It's a positive story because all these children survived."

PHOTO CAPTION: Composer Carl Davis, center, is joined by his wife, noted English actress Jean Boht, left and Brenda Wertheim, vice president of NEXT GENERATIONS. (Staff photo/Beth Black / December 12, 2012)
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