On January 25th 2019, I was requested to attend this years Holocaust Memorial at the Corn Exchange, Dorchester.
My reason for being there? To play Gypsy violin. The reason for the violin being chosen in particular, is that in the concentration camps it was said that a violinist always played as people were being led away. It was the final thing that they heard.
For the past few years I have been supporting the Gypsy Holocaust Memorial musically, with traditional gypsy tunes on the violin, that speak of their passions, pain endured and a powerful sense of love for life.
It is held annually, every 2nd August by Dorset’s charity and association for the Gypsy Nation in this region; Kushti Bok, at Kingston Maurward House, Dorchester. It is always a deeply emotional event, one which I always learn about something new and fundamentally important every time. It has led to me being asked to play in support of this year’s Holocaust Memorial, which is held at the end of every January in remembrance of what should never be forgotten.
This year at the Corn Exchange, proceedings for the Holocaust Memorial were commenced by Mona Elkotory, Chairman of South West Dorset Multicultural Network.
“The Nazis persecuted people they deemed to be different. But sadly, as you are all aware, such discrimination of racial or religious groups is not a thing of the past. It’s still happening in Myanmar and other parts of the world.”
Gankino Horo – opening music by Matt Tarling for the 2019 Holocaust Memorial
I then played an interpretation of the Bulgarian gypsy tune ‘Gankino Horo’ but somewhat more slowly than it is normally played, to fit the occasion. This was then followed by impassioned speeches from two local students from Thomas Hardye School, about the persecution of LGBT people, both during WW2 and nowadays and then the ongoing oppression of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims. This was followed by 12 deeply moving pieces of poetry, describing the stories of the Holocaust, read by students from Sunninghill Prep School.
We heard many more stories and also a recording of a speech by the late Harry Grenville, himself a Holocaust survivor and modern day campaigner of Holocaust awareness in schools, nationwide.
Finally the service was brought to an end with the lighting of candles, in remembrance of those who died. This was accompanied by my rendition of the gypsy anthem ‘Djelem Djelem’.