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Lee's Summit choir remembers the Holocaust through musical storytelling

 Director Jennifer Lahasky conducts the Summer Singers of Lee's Summit at St. Paul's Episcopal Church. The singers stand with their backs to the photographer in front of the church's altar. Lahasky is back further between the two sections of seating made up of blue chairs.
Laura Baker
Jennifer Lahasky
Director Jennifer Lahasky conducts the Summer Singers of Lee's Summit at St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

The Summer Singers of Lee's Summit will be performing three works on Sunday and Monday that commemorate the millions of lives lost during the Holocaust. Director Jennifer Lahasky talks about the program, the collaboration with the Jewish community and her hope that the music will help audiences find some light in the darkness.

Even though they were surrounded by death and destruction, the millions of prisoners in the Nazi concentration camps during World War II found ways to create. They wrote songs, prayers, letters, poems and prose. Many of their works still exist today.

Composer Donald McCullough combed through the archives of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. to try and reconstruct some of the music that was written and sung in Polish concentration camps. He wrote the "Holocaust Cantata" based on what he discovered.

On Sunday, The Summer Singers of Lee's Summit will perform McCullough's work to commemorate the lives lost during the Holocaust.

The 40-voice choir will also perform "Kaddish for the Six Million" by Amy Thropp and "Even When He is Silent" by Kim André Arnesen.

"All the songs tie into this message of hope and love and light in this unimaginable time of darkness," said Jennifer Lahasky, the choir's director.

The performances will be accompanied by Kansas City Symphony cellist Larry Figg and pianist Geoffrey Wilcken. Megan Moore and Joshua Markley will be featured as soloists.

The Summer Singers of Lee's Summit collaborated with several organizations in the Kansas City Jewish community while preparing for this event.

Dr. Shelly Cline, historian and Director of Education at the The Midwest Center for Holocaust Education, will give a pre-concert talk about the role of music in the ghettos and concentration camps. Rabbis Mark Levin, Larry Karol and Rhonda Karol will read the narrated stories included in the "Holocaust Cantata." Students from Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy will showcase their artwork during the post-concert receptions.

"I'm just amazed by the amount of people who have been a part of helping this program come together," Lahasky said. "I think it really speaks to the community of Kansas City and how supportive they are of the arts and of telling this story of those who lost their lives in the Holocaust."

Both concerts will be held at St. Paul's Episcopal Church. The first concert will take place on Sunday, July 30, at 4:00 p.m. The second will be on Monday, July 31, at 7:30 pm.

For more information, and to purchase tickets, go to

Kiana Fernandes is an intern for Classical KC.