Survivor debuts with Ma
BOSTON — A 90-year-old Holocaust survivor made his orchestral debut with renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma on Tuesday to benefit a foundation that seeks to preserve the work of artists and musicians killed by the Nazis.
Ma and George Horner, a retired doctor who lives near Philadelphia, embraced in a small room in Boston's Symphony Hall before rehearsal.
Ma thanked Horner for helping the Terezin Music Foundation, named for the town of Terezin, site of an unusual Jewish ghetto in German-occupied Czechoslovakia. Amid death and hard labor, Nazi soldiers let prisoners stage performances.
The pair performed music composed 70 years ago when Horner was incarcerated.
“It's an extraordinary link to the past,” said organizer Mark Ludwig, who leads the foundation.
Horner played piano and accordion in the Terezin cabarets, including tunes written by fellow inmate Karel Svenk. Horner played two of Svenk's works solo — a march and a lullaby — and teamed with Ma for a third piece called “How Come the Black Man Sits in the Back of the Bus?”
Svenk did not survive. But his musical legacy has, in part because of a chance meeting of Ludwig, a scholar of Terezin composers, and Horner, who never forgot the songs of captivity.
Ma said before the performance that he hoped it will inspire people.
“I grew up with the words, ‘never again,'” said Ma, who was born 10 years after the end of World War II.
“To me, George Horner is a huge hero and is a huge inspiration,” Ma said. “He is a witness to a window, and to a slice of history, that we never want to see again.”
Horner served time in Terezin, Auschwitz and Buchenwald. His parents and sister died in the camps.