Critical acclaim for the works of Lawrence Siegel

Debut Performance of Kaddish conducted by Lawrence Siegel, Composer<

May 3, 2008 at 8pm
Redfern Arts Center
Keene State College
After much anticipation, Kaddish debuted as a sold-out performance to nearly 600 people.  Preceded by a benefit dinner to support the Cohen Center for Holocaust Studies at Keene State College, the evening was graced by Holocaust survivors, community leaders, dignitaries, and Holocaust scholars from across the country.  The music and words captivated hearts and minds, and audience members spoke of Kaddish as being spellbinding, intriguing, and full of hope as well as humility. 

Kaddish World Premiere November 15, 2008 VocalEssence, conducted by Philip Brunelle, Lawrence Siegel, Composer

kaddish world premierre performance - james bohn featured baritone, phillip brunelle, vocalessence  conductorMinneapolis, MN – The World Premiere of “Kaddish”, took place November 15, 2008 as part of the 40th anniversary season of VocalEssence, conducted by Philip Brunelle, featuring soprano Maria Jette, mezzo Krista J. Palmquist, tenor Anders Eckman and bass-baritone James Bohn.

Interest is building around the world- in Houston, Texas, Toronto, Canada, Copenhagen, Denmark, Jerusalem, Israel, and many other places- in hosting performances of “Kaddish.”

As Ambassador Richard Swett offered, after the May 3 debut: “I am so impressed and proud of what you have done. The breadth of the impact it will have I predict will be global, but the piece itself possesses a humility and optimism that is unlike any other piece on the holocaust….[T]his piece was one of the most impacting pieces I have ever heard. The libretto was so real it was palpable.”

A Special Concert of Kaddish Peformed by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, at Yad Vashem, September 8, 2011

kaddish at yad vashem, jerusalem, israel

“Kaddish”, music and libretto by Dr. Lawrence Siegel, was performed in the presence of the Speaker of the Knesset, the Honorable Reuvin Riflin. This by invitation concert took place on Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 7:30 pm in Warsaw Ghetto Squre, Yad Vashem Har Hazilkaron, Jerusalem. The concert featured Gil Shohat conducting the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra with soloists, Maria Jette, soprano, Adriana Zabala, mezzo-soprano, Thomas Cooley, tenor, James Bohn, baritone, and The New Israeli Vocal Ensemble, Chorusmaster Yuval Ben-Ozer.

kaddish at yad vashem, jerusalem, israelKaddish is a unique work consisting of fifteen original songs for chorus, soloists and orchestra. The stirring libretto is fashioned largely from testimonies of Holocaust survivors. Kaddish opens a window onto the lives of survivors of the Shoah, and commemorates the six million Jews murdered.

Watch Kaddish Performed at Yad Vashem

Kaddish at Yad Vashem Photo Gallery

More information on Kaddish at Yad Vashem is available on the Yad Vashem webiste.

KADDISH World Premiere large orchester version – Houston Symphony, November, 2010

‘Houston Symphony: Kaddish – ‘I Am Here’ Sat., November 27, Houston,
Complete article in PDF format [2.2 MB]

…After the intermission came Kaddish, which enough cannot be said about. It was sweet, shocking, melancholy, uplifting, horrific, and finally, powerfully triumpant. With several Holocaust survivors present being introduced from the audience, then the grand and dramatic production with the full Houston Symphony, the full Houston Symphony Chorus, plus the four singing narrative soloists, all under the steady hand of Maestro Hans Graf, it was a large, moving, stupendous production.

Kaddish Performance Maestro Hans Grafconducting the Houston Symphony Chorus

It had the dramatic intensity and weight of the largest and most dramatic grand operas. But unlike opera, which is usually based on legend or mythology, this is “real.” It is the “truth.” It is history. And we know this because it is a first person testimonial by people still living, several of whom were present in the room that night. The first person testimonials being sung powerfully by the vocal soloists, echoed by the expansive and soaring Houston Symphony Chorus behind them.

Most of us only know the Holocaust from documentary footage, or from narrative motion pictures. But Kaddish is not a documentary. Not a fiction. It is a very personal testimony from several people who lived through it, and it is alternately poetic, angry, wistful, horrific, melancholic, and humanly philosophical. It is a story that questions faith and destiny, while recounting memories of events that were haunting, disturbing, horrible, disgusting, and shameful.

It is an unforgivable story. It is a practically unbelievable story, that human beings could ever act so cruelly…and yet it is still told in an overwhelmingly human, real, and heartfelt way.

A very powerful moment toward the end was when a litany of real non-survivor names was read en masse in overlapping fashion by the Houston Symphony Chorus. Starting with everyone, then just the women, then everyone again, then just the women again. Then fewer and fewer women’s voices, until finally there was just one…and then it too, was silent.


This is also a bigger story than we usually see. It covers the saga from before WWII, and during WWII, and after WWII, and until today. We get the feeling of experiencing the entire story cycle, from before…to now. It is a huge story.

Yes, the chorus sounded beautiful. And yes, the symphony sounded wonderful. And yes, the soloists sang powerfully and movingly. But it is all in the service of telling this horrific, and yet ultimately courageous and heroic story. In this respect the star of the show must be Lawrence Siegel and his amazing, classically oratorial, symphonic, compositional achievement. And yet even Mr. Siegel does not do this for himself. He does it for the Holocaust survivors, and for all the people who did not survive the Holocaust. And to tell this horrible story, in the most artistically beautiful way possible, so that people can understand what happened. He succeeded admirably. Plus he had a lot of very talented help along the way, and in this amazing performance. It is an unquestioned triumph. And extremely emotional to sit through.

How does one feel good after seeing and hearing a performance like this? Because ultimately it is a story of triumph.

The best feeling that can be taken away from this story, and this extraordinary historical musical event, is that:

…the evil criminals, did…not…win.

The Survivors Won.

And Bravo! to them…

Lawrence Siegel Selected as Best Granite State Composer, July, 2010

Lawrence Siegel selected as “Best Granite State Composer” by New Hampshire Magazine in their July 2010 annual Best of NH edition.

Granite State Composer: Lawrence Siegel is a music composer, theater artist, scholar and performer with a national reputation in several interrelated fields. As artistic director and founder of Tricinium, Limited (a 501(c)(3) organization) and director of The Verbatim Project, he has facilitated participatory, interdisciplinary residencies in the creation and performance of original works of music-theater for more than 12 years. These have included such diverse contexts as junior high and high school meditations on society; a celebration of The New Hampshire Character for the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s Fortieth Anniversary; college courses; workshops for teachers; and community residencies, sponsored by ad hoc groups of local citizens”