The opera "Brundibár" was written by a Jewish Czech composer Hans Krása in 1938. In 1942, he was deported to Terezín (or Theresienstadt), a ghetto created by the Nazis to amass European Jews in one location prior to transportation to the East for the "final solution". In Terezín, Krása's opera Brundibár was performed more than fifty times by children and musicians from the ghetto. During the rehearsals and performances, as the transports to the East were in progress, there was a constant stream of new performers, replacing the previous performers who were being shipped to Auschwitz for extermination.
The opera itself is a simple story about friendship, good winning over evil and overcoming bullies. The final chorus of the opera goes like this: "Victory spectacular, Goodbye to Brundibár, Never afraid of him, battle won, war is done, now we are number one. Our song is strong and clear, our voices without fear, what a phenomenon. Whoever loves justice and will defend it and is not afraid is our friend and may play with us".
What is particularly significant and moving is the historical context in which it was originally performed - in a concentration camp, under the noses of the Nazis, who either were not listening or did not see the significance of the opera's lyrics. The opera speaks to today's children as well. It shows that if we pull together, we can overcome even the meanest bully.
The Saskatchewan event was a special project of the Saskatchewan Music Educators Association and the organizing committee included representatives from Saskatoon Children's Choir, Persephone Theatre, Saskatoon Composers' Performance Society and Agudas Israel Jewish Community in Saskatoon. Honorary Patrons of the production were Her Honour, the Honourable Dr. Lynda Haverstock, Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, and Dr. Dagmar Lieblová, Chairperson of the Terezín Initiative in Prague, Czech Republic. There are other volunteers from the community at large.
There were seven performances in Saskatoon May 11-15, 2005 - four school matinées and three evening performances. All performances were sold out.
There were two performances in Regina on May 27 and 28, 2005 at Darke Hall,
Univesity of Regina Campus.
The Saskatoon Children's Choir was founded in 1996 by its present artistic director Phoebe Voigts. It performs a wide variety of choral compositions with a particular emphasis on classic literature, international folk music and Canadian works. The choir is sponsored by the Saskatchewan Music Educators Association.
The choir has appeared as guest artists of the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, performed with Prairie Virtuosi, the University of Saskatchewan Greystone Singers, the Calgary Girls Choir, and Canadian folk singers Valdy and Connie Kaldor. Recording credits include four compact discs, feature performances on CBC radio and CFQC television, and the CBC Christmas CD A Gift of Song with baritone Henri Loiselle.
Since September 2000 the choir has been supporting the International Campaign to Ban Landmines through concerts, education platforms and signatures supporting the Ban Mine Treaty. This project included a 2002 Peace Tour of Europe, the release of the CD Fields Interrupted, and a guest performance at the Canadian/American International Peace Gardens. The Saskatoon Children's Choir has received numerous awards and certificates, including First Place at the Festival Internacional de Musica de Cantongiros in Spain, the Isabelle Mills Award for outstanding choral achievement, and the prestigious Elmer Eisler Award from the International Choral Kathaumixw. Semi-finalists in the 2002 CBC Choral Competition, the choir has a growing reputation on the national and international choral stage.
Touring has been an integral part of the culture of the choir since its inception. In addition to their 2002 European tour, they have performed in Canada from Ottawa to British Columbia, with extensive travel in their home province of Saskatchewan.