May 3, 2007 Israeli Composer To Deliver Lecture Titled "Composing the Holocaust" on May 17

Press Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022
Public Contact: Gail Shirazi (202) 707-9887

More than 60 years after the end of World War II, a growing number of artists are depicting the tragic events of the Holocaust through the performing arts.

Israeli composer Ella Milch-Sheriff, whose parents are Holocaust survivors, is one such artists whose operatic and orchestral works deal with this grave subject matter. She will discuss and show segments from her works in an audiovisual presentation titled “Composing the Holocaust” at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 17, in the Whittall Pavilion, located on the ground floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building at 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored jointly by the Library’s Music Division, the Hebrew Language Table at the Library of Congress and the Embassy of Israel. It is part of the Library’s celebration of Jewish American History Month.

Sheriff’s “Can Heaven Be Void?” is an orchestral work based on the 1943 diary of her father, Baruch Milch, written while he was in hiding from the Nazis. Sheriff also composed an opera titled “And the Rat Laughed,” based on a novel with a similar title by the Israeli author Nava Semel. Both works, which have been performed to acclaim around the world, have made Sheriff a “success story” in her native Israel.

Born in Haifa, Israel, Sheriff was a child prodigy who began composing at the age of 12. While in the army, she composed, performed and interpreted her songs. Following her military service, she studied composition under the direction of Tzvi Avni and graduated with a degree in

composition from the Rubin Academy of Music at Tel Aviv University. She subsequently studied vocal training under the direction of Tamar Rachum and Daphna Cohen-Licht, specializing in Lieder (a German word meaning “song” but used primarily to describe European classical music songs).

Sheriff composes for opera and has written chamber, orchestral and vocal music as well as popular music and solo works. In 2005, “Can Heaven Be Void?” was performed at the Israeli Opera House in Tel Aviv in commemoration of the 60th anniversary marking the end of World War II. That same year, Sheriff was awarded the Israeli Prime Minister Prize and the Rosenblum Prize for Achievement for her compositional works.

For other Jewish American History Month events being held at the Library and in several other locations in Washington, D.C., visit the Web site This Web portal is a collaborative project of the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.


PR 07-102
ISSN 0731-3527