"Different Trains" rattle through historic Jerusalem site

Tue Jul 12, 2011 10:53am EDT
 
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By Ori Lewis

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A disused Ottoman-era jail in Jerusalem has been taken over this month for performances of American composer Steve Reich's "Different Trains" multimedia work that recounts the ferrying of Jews to the Nazi death camps.

The antiquated building in Jerusalem's walled Old City was built by Palestine's Turkish Ottoman conquerors in the mid-19th century and later used by its British Mandate rulers, but the site has lain derelict for decades.

The show, part of Jerusalem's Season of Culture, was brought to the city by Stockholm's Jewish Theater that first staged it under the direction of Pia Forsgren in the Swedish capital in October 2008.

Sweden's Fleshquartet played electronic instruments in the cavernous hall to perform Reich's work that debuted in 1988 and won a Grammy Award in 1990 for Best Contemporary Classical Composition.

They added their own improvised sounds in a work they call "Tears Apart" on colorfully lit bulbous glass vessels in a darkened hall draped in black and with video footage of trains projected onto the walls.

To watch a clip of the Fleshquartet's performance of the work click here: http:/vimeo.com/24105329

"The beautiful glass shapes could be souls or bodies. Beauty here is a way of making communication possible, of allowing us to take in the unspeakable, and of giving us strength," Forsgren said.

Through sound and light, Reich's work recounts his experiences and thoughts when he travelled on trains in the United States in the 1940s while at the same time other trains in Europe were taking Nazi Holocaust victims to the death camps.   Continued...

 
<p>A woman walks across a bridge over a dry moat that is part of the Tower of David museum in Jerusalem's Old City July 11, 2011. The moat leads to a disused Ottoman jail in Jerusalem which has been taken over this month for performances of American composer Steve Reich's "Different Trains" multimedia work that recounts the ferrying of Jews to the Nazi death camps. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun</p>