HOUSTON, TX (Aug. 7, 2009) – A Holocaust survivor who was able to turn his childhood dream of becoming a musician into reality following that grim period in history will perform twice this fall with his daughter in twin piano recitals at Holocaust Museum Houston.
Survivor Al Marks and his daughter, Karen Marks Aarons, will conduct two performances of “A Journey of Musical Memories.” The first will begin with a 6:30 p.m. reception on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2009, followed by the concert at 7 p.m. A second concert is scheduled for 4 p.m., with a reception to follow on Sunday, Sept. 13. The father-daughter duo will grace the Albert and Ethel Herzstein Theater at Holocaust Museum Houston with the music of Ira Gershwin, Johannes Brahms, Edith Piaff, George M. Cohan and other composers.
Born in Budapest, Marks and his two parents were deported from his Hungarian birthplace to Auschwitz in 1944. After losing both of his parents to the gas chambers and crematoriums that took 6 million lives during the Holocaust, Marks was transported to the Melk camp. On July 8, 1944, the U.S. Air Force bombed Melk by mistake on the way to Vienna, causing more than 600 casualties and leaving Marks with a piece of a bomb in his chest that remains there to this day.
After the attack, Marks was moved to Ebensee, his last camp before liberation. On May 4, 1944, the Schutzstaffel (SS) tried to execute all the prisoners in the camp by forcing them into tunnels they had dug during their imprisonment and then collapsing the tunnel entrance, suffocating all those inside. Marks and the other prisoners resisted entering a certain deathtrap, and he believes that if General George S. Patton’s Third Army had not liberated the camp the very next day, the prisoners would have been doomed.
Arriving as an orphan in Houston on Jan. 8, 1948, Marks attended high school during the day, worked during the afternoons and spent his weekends at the Houston Conservatory of Music for piano lessons. After leaving for a two-year tour in Korea with the U.S. Army, Marks returned to Houston and met and married Sarah Dvoretzky, his high-school sweetheart. The two have three children.
Marks' piano playing became his career for 50 years. He was an orchestra leader for a variety of engagements, his most endearing one when he played for the Apollo 17 commanders a day after they returned from the moon.
Aarons followed in her father’s footsteps by also entering the classical music field. She received her bachelor of music degree from the North Carolina School of Arts, where she studied with Clifton Matthews, before gaining her master’s degree in music from the Saint Louis Conservatory of Music, studying with Pamela Mia Paul and Jozsef Kalichstein. Currently, Aarons is an accompanist for several churches and choral groups and presents mini-recitals both as a soloist and duo-pianist with her father.
Seating is limited, and advance reservations are required. Tickets are $15 for Museum members and $25 for non-members. Visit www.hmh.org/register.asp to reserve seats online. All proceeds will go to support the Museum’s ongoing mission and educational programming.
The concert has been underwritten by Zadok Jewelers with special thanks to Houston Pecan Company, Sherman Clay Pianos, Ellen and Daniel Trachtenberg and Continental Airlines, the official airline of Holocaust Museum Houston.
Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy. Holocaust Museum Houston is free and open to the public and is located in Houston’s Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004.
For more information about the Museum, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.