Smit manuscript spotlight

Photo: Photo courtesy of Jeff Hamburg

The first page of Leo Smit's string quartet discovered and completed by Jeff Hamburg.

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The Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s Coalition for Jewish Education and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra are working together to produce a night of remembrance through music for Yom HaShoah this Sunday.

“A Grave in the Air: Yom HaShoah 2012, A Musical Remembrance” is a night dedicated to observing the artistic culture lost by the murders of Jewish artists during the Holocaust. Yom Hashoah is a day put aside yearly to remember those lost in the Holocaust.

The symphony will perform music composed by the Dutch Jewish composer Leo Smit, who was murdered in the Sobibor concentration camp in 1943.

The concert will bring together 16 members of the orchestra, German conductor Markus Huber and composer Jeff Hamburg.

Bryan Davis, youth and Holocaust education coordinator for the Jewish Federation, says this year's memorial is different than in the past.

“We haven’t done anything of this scale – ever,” Davis says.

American born composer Hamburg has lived in the Netherlands since the 1970s. His ex-wife Eleonore Pameijer, a flute player, discovered much of the composer Leo Smit’s work.

Jeff Hamburg spotlight

Photo: Photo courtesy of Jeff Hamburg

Composer Jeff Hamburg finished one of Leo Smit’s pieces after finding it in an archive. The piece will be performed Sunday.

“She played that and got really excited about his music,” Hamburg said in a phone interview from his home in the Netherlands. “Leo Smit’s sister was still alive actually at that time. She got in contact with her, and she was sort of amazed that someone would be interest in his music.”

Leo Smit

Photo: Photo courtesy of the Jewish Federation.

Composer Leo Smit's work is featured at this year’s Yom HaShoah event put on by the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s Coalition for Jewish Education and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra.

Hamburg finished one of Smit’s pieces after finding it in an archive. He found a piece that looked like a piano score with the words string quartet scrawled across the top. The first part of the piece was finished, but the second and third was not. They assume this was one of the final pieces Smit wrote, Hamburg says.

“The music is very interesting,” he says. “I decided to finish the string quartet for him.”

The piece will be performed for the first time at Sunday’s concert.

This year’s annual Yom HaShoah Community Holocaust Commemoration will be Sunday, beginning at 2 p.m. at the Tucson Jewish Community Center, 3800 E. River Road. The event is free and open to the public.