To mark the end of the summer term, soloists from Ampleforth College, the Benedictine school in Yorkshire, joined a chorus made up of children from nine local primary schools in a moving and exciting production of Hans Krasa’s Brundibar.
Andrew Carter, director of arts at the college, and Ian Little, conductor and director of music, were responsible for putting on the production. Hans Krasa was deported to the Nazi concentration camp in the Czech Republic, Theresienstadt or Terezín, in 1942. His opera had been completed in 1938 but never performed in its entirety.
It was performed many times at Theresienstadt and used as a propaganda initiative by the Nazis during a Red Cross visit. Under the glare of their SS captors the children in the camp sang about freedom and defeating bullies. All but two of the original cast eventually perished in the gas chambers in Auschwitz.
The performance starred John Clapham and Charity Mapletoft, sixth-form students, as Pepicek and Aninku, two poor children trying to raise money to buy milk for their ailing mother.
The opera was performed on three nights with children from these primary schools providing the chorus: Carlton Miniott, Easingwold, Gillamoor, St Benedict’s Ampleforth, St Joseph’s Pickering, St Martin’s Ampleforth, Settrington, Sheriff Hutton and Sutton-on-the-Forest.