Identity is personal; it can also have wider implications. Through my story and by bringing to light the long history of conversion and assimilation behind the Mischlinge (a derogatory Nazi term for those neither fully Jewish nor fully Aryan), before, during and after the Holocaust, I hope to inspire reflection and tolerance. In my StoryCorps interview, above, you can hear my story in my words. My personal history and my experiences of my family's history are the starting point for this performance project.
The Mischlinge Exposé is a many-layered multimedia performance centering around my family's history and my personal experience with Judaism. The program features the music of German-Jewish-born composers Felix Mendelssohn, Arnold Schoenberg, Alexander Zemlinsky, and Hanns Eisler. The works contextualize video and audio testimony of my father, Horace J. Enger, and my godmother, Rosemarie Steinfeld's, experiences in Germany after the Nuremberg Laws were passed (both were labeled "Mischling, Grade A," by the Nazis). Readings of text by Rahel Varnhagen and Heinrich Heine, both converts to Christianity who felt deeply conflicted after their conversion, show the turmoil that may have made its way into the music. Works by contemporary Israeli composers Paul Ben-Haim and Lior Navok offer a glimpse of Israel, where my father's fully Jewish cousin emigrated during the war to escape Germany. Through the lens of historical context and the artistic and poetic testimony of prominent converts, the performance traces my family story of conversion from Judaism to Christianity and back to Judaism.
Bringing the project into the present day, I am thrilled to be commissioning a new 20-minute work from acclaimed composer Bruce Adolphe. Bruce's piece will bring the emotional landscape of my family's wartime experiences to life in the context of pre-war German Jewish culture, serving as the second generation to the pieces included in the project. It may sound like a private subject, but from the personal comes the universal. I hope that by setting one family's story to music, this new work will offer a space for each listener to explore, finding room for their own stories of exclusion and inclusion, hardship and homecoming.
The Mischlinge Exposé is available as a live performance, a presentation with recorded music and video, and an interactive talk. I am interested in meeting with audiences on college campuses, students at JCCs and high schools with Holocaust Studies and Tolerance programs. For a list of more than ten past and upcoming performances, please consult my concert calendar: www.carolynenger.com/calendar.html
A projector and screen, to display video in one of two ways: 1) a DVD player with connection to a stereo sound system or 2) an HDMI/lightning bolt connection from an Apple laptop to the projector and 1/8 inch cable connected to the stereo sound system. Carolyn performs on piano as the video and audio testimony play on the projector screen and sound system.
"I first met Carolyn Enger when I was preparing in 2012 for the Jewish Community Center (JCC), in Tenafly, New Jersey, an artifact exhibit of first-hand documents dealing with the Holocaust, and added her unusual and touching personal story to the exhibit... I can only hope and pray that she will receive all the support needed (financial and otherwise) to bring this moving project into fruition."
Dr. Mordecai Paldiel
Formerly, director of the Righteous Among the Nations Dept., at Yad Vashem, and currently teaching the Holocaust at Yeshiva University-Stern College and Touro College, New York.
The program includes music by Felix Mendelssohn, Alexander Zemlinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, and Hanns Eisler. In this playlist I have included pieces that resonate with the themes of the project.
In addition, I am excited to announce that I have commissioned a new piece for the project: a 20 minute solo piano work by Bruce Adolphe! Listen to an interview with myself and Bruce on Rachel Katz's WWFM radio show, A Tempo, to find out more about the piece!