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Testimony of Witnesses Critical Acclaim

"Transport," [Listen] [Read] the opening of the second half of Testimony of Witnesses, was recorded by Boston Secession for our second CD, Surprised By Beauty: Minimalism in Choral Music. Critics said:
    In “Transport” (2006) — a fragment from a full-evening work, “Testimony of Witnesses” — Ruth Lomon weaves poetry by Holocaust victims and survivors into a seamless narrative and sets it to music of clarity and pained urgency ... Ms. Lomon’s haunting vision of tightly packed cattle cars bound for concentration camps is the disc’s most striking score, and it receives the most powerful performance. -- Allan Kozinn, The New York Times [Full text]

    Boston Secession’s resident composer, Ruth Lomon’s offering, Transport (2006) part of her oratorio Testimony of Witnesses (set for a full premiere in 2009), draws from poetry written by holocaust victims and survivors. Lomon’s work paired with Bryars makes for provocative, multi-faceted listening and thinking. -- Kirk Udvardi, Asymmetry Music Magazine [Full text]

    The CD offers the section called “Transport,” in which five writers (three women and two men) describe being crammed into freight cars for 26 hours without food or water. The music is dramatic, employing a chamber orchestra of fifteen. The sound of a real siren is terrifying, and the final sentence is chopped off by a tremendous kettledrum thwack. The Secession plans to premiere the entire oratorio in the spring of 2009. -- Caldwell Titcomb, Arts Fuse [Full text]

    This jagged and brutal work nevertheless proclaims a sort of sharp-edged beauty all of its own, the affecting last few bars that trail off mid-sentence giving all pause for reflection. -- Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition [Full text]

    Ruth Lomon’s Testimony of Witnesses is an evening-long oratorio based on poetry by victims of the Holocaust. The “Transport” section is a setting of short verses about the trains that carried people to the concentration camps. Lemon uses the considerable resources of the Boston Secession instrumental contingent (Testimony of Witmesses was written for them) to paint a harrowing sound picture of these events. The music is tonal and directly expressive. It’s powerful and deeply moving. -- Steve Hicken, Sequenza21 [Full text]


Three choruses of Testimony of Witnesses have been premiered in concert to critical acclaim. Boston Secession premiered "Chor der Waisen" [Listen] [Read] in 2001, and performed it again in 2003 along with the premiere of "Boreh Ad Ana" [Listen] [Read] in a program called “Transitive Venus: Women’s Perspectives in Music.”
    "Boreh Ad Ana" was premiered at this concert…An alto flute (played expressively by Jill Dreeben) with a sinuous, undulating melody… Underneath it all was a stark drumbeat, like the lub-dub of the human heart…This was followed by Lomon's setting of "Chor der Waisen," (Chorus of Orphans) by Nelly Sachs…Lomon unfolds this text with two melodic lines, intertwining and unfolding, intermingled with rhapsodic solo passages…These two pieces worked together as a powerful and devastatingly effective expression. -- Liane Curtis, Bay Windows [Full text]

In October 2004, Boston Secession again performed "Boreh Ad Ana,"and premiered "Lokomotywa” [Listen] [Read] at the Festival of Women Composers, in Brandeis University’s Slosberg Hall.
    The world premiere was "Lokomotywa” based on a poem by the Polish writer Julian Tuwim about trains.... It was… easy to delight in the composer's imaginative reproduction of the sounds of a steam engine and to be disquieted by the subtext of the musical journey to an unknown destination. Another movement, "Boreh Ad Ana," is the opening of the oratorio -- a Hebrew prayer, accompanied by tom-tom and alto flute (Jill Dreeben). This music, too, bears musical witness in a way that is strong, personal, and dramatic. -- Richard Dyer, The Boston Globe [Full text]
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