Halina Neuman, former Rutgers music professor, and the grandmother of Montclair resident Edward Hoffman, will be honored in a concert on Sunday, Oct. 27, at the Robeson Campus Center, 350 Martin Luther King Boulevard, Newark. The concert celebrates Neuman’s friendship with Anna Bieler, a fellow music student, from whom she was seperated during the Holocaust. Though the concert is free, reservations are suggested, at tinyurl.com/yy9o2n73.
The one-hour program, “Two Pianos: Playing for Life,” incorporates music, live readings and narration, and recreates the concerts Neuman played with her friend Anna Bieler, from whom she was separated during the Holocaust.
Narration, event and exhibit content are based on character interviews by Michael and Nora Jean Levin (Anna’s daughter) in the 1980’s, supplemented by Kenneth Hoffman (Halina’s grandson).
The two women later reunited in Newark. The performance features Mozart, Arensky, and other selections with in-character readings, performed by piano duo Diana Shapiro and Stanislava Varshavski.
“Two Pianos” is “truly a story of human perseverance and the power of art to sustain and inspire,” Hoffman writes. “The message that music can sustain a personal space of resilience and resistance continues to resonate today.”
Anna and Halina met as alien student residents at the Leipzig Conservatory in the 1920s and played two-piano concerts.
By 1938, the Nazis prohibited even the segregated concerts they played with the Leipzig Kulturbund, a group founded to allow Jewish musicians to play in public. Anna fled Germany and arrived safely in Philadelphia, where she would restart her music career at Philadelphia’s Settlement School. Halina and her young daughter were deported to Poland. They survived the Warsaw Ghetto but eventually were sent to a labor camp, until they were liberated in 1945. Doors open at 2 p.m. for a walk-through exhibit and the performance follows at 3 p.m. with a Q&A and reception afterward.
For more about Two Pianos please visit twopianosplayingforlife.org.