Unfinished Lives – The Concert

Further Performances

Tel Aviv in 2023

Oslo and Warsaw in 2022

Music, poetry and cabaret from Theresienstadt

Bente Kahan: vocal/ musical compositions set to Ilse Weber’s poetry
Ronen Nissan: All musical arrangements/guitar

English translations: Ilse Weber: David Keir Wright, Cabaret Songs: Dahlia Pfeffer Luxemburg

“Unfinished Lives” is a unique musical project brings back to life the music and lyrics of Jewish musicians, composers and writers who, despite being persecuted by the Nazis, continued to create and perform in the ghettos and concentration camps.

Bente Kahan and Ronen Nissan have joined forces in order to bring this artistic  work to its justified place, that of a concert stage, not just as an act of remembrance, but rather for its own sheer artistic value.

The program of “Unfinished Lives” includes:

  • Poetry by Ilse Weber, set to music and performed by Bente Kahan, either in their original languages as well as in English
  • Cabaret Songs as composed and performed in Theresienstadt ghetto, and performed by Bente Kahan
  • Compositions by Viktor Ullmann and other composers

Most works are presented in new orchestral arrangements by Ronen Nissan, in three versions:

  1. String quintet + guitar,
  2. String orchestra + guitar,
  3. Full orchestra.

“Unfinished Lives” is conceived modularly, i.e. the various parts of the program can be exchanged or performed independently.

The first performance of “Unfinished Lives”  took place at the “White Stork” Synagogue, Wroclaw, Poland, in November 8, 2017. The cabaret songs in the new arrangements were premiered on November 8th 2018,with Bente Kahan as a soloist, Ronen Nissan, and a string quintet from the National Forum of Music (NFM) in Wroclaw. The new arrangements of three songs by Ilse Weber / Bente Kahan were premiered on September 1st 2019, in a concert commemorating the 80th anniversary of the beginning of WWII and the European day of Jewish culture.  2021 saw the premiere of the yet a new version for string orchestra, with the Leopoldinum Chamber Orchestra joining forces in concerts in Wroclaw and Prague. In 2022 the Project was performed at Warsaw’s “Polin”  Jewish museum. Further performances are planned for Oslo and Tel Aviv, as well as a new CD recording slated for August 2023.

“Unfinished Lives” is an ongoing project which continues to evolve and develop,  thus bringing this important music to a wide public as possible.

The concert “Unfinished Lives” is cooperation between The Bente Kahan Foundation, the National Forum of Music in Wroclaw (NFM) and the city of Wroclaw, and is linked to the exhibition with the same name created by Bente Kahan for the White Stork Synagogue (Fundacja Bente Kahan, Wroclaw, Poland).