About the recording
This virtual performance of the Epilogue from Howard Moody's PUSH - 'Ma vie n'est que miracles' (My life is only miracles) - was created during the April 2020 Coronavirus lockdown and features cast members from previous productions of PUSH in Battle, Chichester, Salisbury, London and Brussels.
The video was released on the 77th anniversary of Convoi XX in memory of the three members of the Belgian Resistance, Jean Franklemon, Robert Mastriau and Youra Lipschitz whose bravery in April 1943 saved the lives of many, as our health workers continue to do today. Sound Mix & Additional Production by Adrian Zolotuhin; Film by Shogo Hino.
Epilogue from the opera PUSH is based on the story of Simon Gronowski, an 11 year old Jewish boy who was pushed from the train (Convoi XX) on April 19 1943 by his mother, on the way to Auschwitz Concentration Camp.
PUSH, an opera by Howard Moody
Originally commissioned by Battle Festival in 2016 and produced in partnership with Glyndebourne and the De La Warr Pavilion, PUSH is an opera written by Howard Moody telling the extraordinary story of Simon Gronowski, an 11 year-old boy who was pushed by his mother from a train bound for Auschwitz in 1943. Alongside professional soloists and orchestra, each production of the opera has featured a vast chorus of singers drawn from the local community.
In 1943, Simon Gronowski was taken from the Dossin Barracks and put on a train for Auschwitz. Thanks to his mother, who pushed him off the train, he was able to escape. Simon survived, but didn’t speak of his experiences for many years. UK-based composer Howard Moody met Simon in Brussels in 2014 after the premiere of his opera, Sinbad: a journey through living flames. Brussels resident Simon recounted his extraordinary story, saying ‘My life has been nothing but miracles’, and Howard promised Simon that his story would be the subject of his next opera.
PUSH was subsequently commissioned in a partnership between Glyndebourne Opera and Battle Festival to mark the 900th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings and was premiered in Sussex in October 2016.
In 2018, there were two further productions of PUSH: In Chichester Cathedral to mark Holocaust Memorial Day and in St Thomas’s Church in Salisbury, presented by La Folia as part of the launch of the city’s new arts organisation, Wiltshire Creative. PUSH has since been performed at the House of Commons (January 2019) and at La Monnaie in Brussels (March 2019).
PUSH is more than a miraculous war story. It transcends the historical facts and resonates with the experiences of prisoners and refugees past and present: ‘our lives in one bag’. Howard Moody, an extraordinary bridge-builder both as a composer and a conductor, has filled his opera with a message of hope inspired by Simon Gronowski’s words: ‘I wanted to live in the present and the future, in optimism, joy, and friendship’.
The La Monnaie production of PUSH can be viewed online until 17 May 2020: https://youtu.be/A6SNvo7o3Ws
Image galleries from the La Monnaie production, photographer Hugo Segers: