Pianist shares mother’s story of Holocaust survival

“She was my piano teacher, but the lessons were really life lessons.”

That’s how concert pianist Mona Golabek describes her mother, Lisa Jura – the title character of Golabek’s acclaimed one-woman show, “The Pianist of Willesden Lane.”

After a five-month world premiere run at Los Angeles’ Geffen Playhouse, Golabek brings “The Pianist of Willesden Lane” to the Suncoast showroom this weekend before a national tour.

Presented in Las Vegas by Jewish Repertory Theatre of Nevada, “The Pianist of Willesden Lane” focuses on Jura’s experiences as a young musical prodigy in 1938 Vienna.

Her musical talents prompted her parents to send her, rather than one of her two sisters, to London via the Kindertransport, a program that saved almost 10,000 children (7,500 of them Jewish) from Nazi-occupied Europe between December 1938 and Sept. 1, 1939, when Nazi Germany invaded Poland and triggered the start of World War II.

During piano lessons with her mother, Golabek would be working on a Beethoven sonata when Jura would interrupt, asking her daughter, “ ’Did I ever tell you the story of when Johnny King Kong would read poetry to me?’ ” Or when “ ’Aaron whistled the Grieg piano concerto?’ ”

Those experiences took place on London’s Willesden Lane, in a hostel for Jewish refugee children, where Jura would “hold on to the piano and play the Grieg piano concerto” while the Nazis bombed Britain’s capital city.

Throughout, Jura remembered her own mother’s parting words to her, when they said goodbye in Vienna: “Hold on to your music – it will be your best friend in life.”

Convinced her mother’s experiences represented “a fantastic coming-of-age story,” Golabek collaborated with Lee Cohen on the book “The Children of Willesden Lane,” subtitled “Beyond the Kindertransport: A Memoir of Music, Love and Survival.”

After the book’s publication, Golabek presented mini-performances for audiences, complete with musical interludes inspired by the book.

“The reaction was so powerful, with the telling of the story through music,” Golabek says in a telephone interview. “People would hear ‘Claire de Lune’ or the ‘Moonlight Sonata,’ ” and ponder how the sound of Jura’s chords battled the sound of the bombs overhead.

“It’s such a universal story,” Golabek acknowledges, citing how “audiences from all walks of life respond to the universal story of holding on” despite the most daunting circumstances.

Golabek also created the Hold on to Your Music Foundation to explore “the power of the arts, especially music, to embolden the human spirit in the face of adversity” – and share that power with students and teachers.

Bringing her mother’s story to the stage was “a natural transition for me,” says Golabek, who’s “always been comfortable being a storyteller,” thanks in part to her syndicated radio program “The Romantic Hours.”

The challenge in “The Pianist of Willesden Lane,” in Golabek’s view, was to capture the play’s 10 different characters, accents and all.

After a musical career, “it was a whole new art form for me,” she says. “But I kind of grew into it. I feel thrilled to be out there,” sharing “such an inspiring story … the story of my amazing mother.”

Contact reporter Carol Cling at ccling@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Spring Preserve kicks off its Holiday Express
Springs Preserve hosts its Holiday Express, which includes a train ride, visits with Santa, SNOW, and a village winter wonderland.
Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas art exhibit
Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas gallery exhibit
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with blooming jasmine tea
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with jasmine tea
Benny the Ice Skating Dog
Benny is a Las Vegas Labrador who was rescued by former pro skater Cheryl Del Sanyo, and trained to ice skate. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Nevada State Museum
The Nevada State Museum of Las Vegas, located at the Springs Preserve, covers all eras of the state, from prehistoric to today.
Throw a better dinner party
Cash appears at Baseball Winter Meetings
Lights FC mascot Cash plays the electronic drums at the EZ Inflatables’ booth on Tuesday at the Baseball Winter Meetings trade show at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
5 albums to soundtrack your holiday gatherings in style
1. Various Artists, “Holidays Rule," with Rufus Wainwright, The Shins, Calexico and more. 2. Various Artists, “We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year," with Lemmy Kilmister, Alice Cooper, Chuck Billy and others. 3. Various Artists, “Christmas on Death Row," featuring Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg to name but a few. 4. Bright Eyes, “A Christmas Album.” 5. Various Artists, "The Motown Christmas Album." (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
WinterFest
WinterFest in Henderson.
Miss Rodeo America Fashion Show
The 28 women contestants of Miss Rodeo America compete in a fashion show at the Tropicana on Dec. 7, 2018.
Tournament Of Kings Holiday Show
Wizards and warriors are ready for the holidays at Excalibur's Tournament of Kings Holiday Dinner Show.
Take a dive with the Silverton mermaids
A visit to the Silverton Casino Hotel is not complete without taking in the popular, and very unique, mermaid show.
Cowboys and western aficionados can buy virtually anything at Cowboy Christmas
Vegas Golden Knights Christmas Display
In the Las Vegas Valley, the chances of getting a white Christmas are slim. But this year, you can have a “Knight” Christmas. A Henderson resident has a Christmas lights display that is synchronized to the entrance music for the Golden Knights. GG Misa’s Knights light show is played every 30 minutes from 5 to 10 nightly. His light show consists of two songs: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and the entrance music, “Le Castle Vania,” from the movie “John Wick.” The display is located at 730 Bollons Island St. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Reivew-Journal)
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez is Just in Time For Repeal Day And Christmas
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez Is Just In Time For Repeal Day And Christmas. Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal
TV's LGBT superheroes
Green Valley Ranch's Winter's Village
The Mob Museum
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quick Chat With Criss Angel
James D. Gish and Susan Anton rehearse
Susan Anton will be special guest at James D. Gish’s holiday concerts Dec. 7 at Summerlin Library and Dec. 9 at Clark County Library. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Winter Wonderland
"Majestic Holiday Magic" at the Bellagio Conservatory.
Underwater Santa At The Silverton
Santa takes a dive Sunday, December 2, at the Silverton Casino Hotel. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Cowabunga Bay Christmas Town
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which opened in 1991, has exhibits of mechanical dinosaurs and taxidermied animals, along with live snakes, fish and sharks. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Magical Forest Lights
Cirque Du Soleil Performers Team Up For New Show "Kinekt"
Through dance, acrobatics and aerial arts, “Kinekt” tells a story all too familiar to modern families: how to maintain a human connection in the digital age. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ethel M Holiday Cactus Garden
The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas
The Pinball Hall of Fame was created by Tim Arnold and opened in 2006. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like