The Trains

The List Preview

Music and video with score by Steve Reich, Weill, Mahler, Puccini and Górecki

Songs from the Holocaust might seem too dark a subject to tackle. But Greek-born singer Marika Klambatsea is convinced that even music from this bleakest of periods can be life-affirming. ‘Music can help people overcome tragedy. From these songs, you can see that people tried to overcome their circumstances, to be able to survive.’

Her show The Trains brings together music from the concentration camps and from the inter-war period, as well as more modern pieces evoking the emotions of the time. She sings Jewish songs – ‘In one Yiddish lullaby, a mother tells the terrible story of the tragic events to her baby,’ explains the singer – alongside pieces by Weill, Mahler, Puccini and Górecki. Steve Reich’s Holocaust-inspired string quartet Different Trains, given a video reinterpretation, binds the whole performance together.

Polish composer Aleksander Kulisiewicz wrote 54 songs while in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin. ‘I don’t have the courage to sing more than one of them,’ admits Klambatsea. ‘To perform it, you have to go inside the person, to try to understand what they were experiencing.’

What does Klambatsea expect listeners will take away from the show? ‘The audience will feel quite emotional about it – people are often in tears at the end. I’m not trying to make a political analysis, but I hope I can make the point that racism and prejudice are terrible.’

Sweet Grassmarket, 243 3596, 15–28 Aug, 9.20pm, £10 (£8).

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