Sep, 2023: the US premiere of the Holocaust Requiem

Sep, 2023: the US premiere of the Holocaust Requiem

In Sep 2023, the extraordinary US premiere of Requiem took place in Annapolis by Peter Minkler and Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, conducted by José-Luis Novo.

I have been asked by my dear  friend, Boris Pigovat, to write a few words about his significant work, Requiem “The Holocaust” for Viola and Orchestra.  He composed this music in memory of his grandparents and aunt who were murdered at Babi Yar in September 1941 on the outskirts of Kyiv.

Mr. Pigovat contacted me about fourteen years ago with the hope that I would be able to persuade anyone in this country to perform his work, as it had not yet received its United States premiere.  After listening to Requiem, I was convinced that this is an important and transformative piece that deserves international attention.

After countless inquiries, my long journey was finally over when I was contacted by a local conductor and orchestra willing to tackle this technically challenging, massive 45-minute piece, and I performed the US premiere with Maestro Jose-Luis Novo and the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra in September of 2023.  These performances, which took place on the 82nd anniversary of the atrocity, were exceptionally well received with standing ovations, multiple curtain calls and brought many, both on and off stage, to tears.

Throughout the performance, the musicians and audience were silently captivated as the music vividly painted an emotional picture.  Other words shared with me and which were used to describe the music included powerful, unsettling, terrifying, gorgeous and deeply moving.

For me, I was both humbled and profoundly honored to bring this haunting music to life.  As soloist, I felt compelled to act as storyteller, narrating and weaving together the threads of this tragic event and bringing its aftermath to the fore.  Within the six-minute-long cadenza alone, we deftly move from horror to despair to acceptance.  The finale, Lux Eterna, ultimately conveys peace, yet is tempered with a stern warning, “Never Again.”

Despite the thousands of miles separating Boris and me, from our very first interaction I felt an unspoken, intense and immediate connection not only with him, but also his oeuvre of extraordinary music.  I am privileged to call him Friend.

I would encourage violists around the world to seek out and explore the wealth of magnificent works written for our oft-maligned instrument by Boris Pigovat, a composer who understands and appreciates the beauty and possibilities the viola can offer.

Peter Minkler
January 4, 2024

All I can add that I am spokeless. Thank you my dear friend Peter for your warm words!


Donald Maurice’s solo playing vividly captures the music’s gamut of supplicatory emotion, while Marc Taddei and the orchestra provide an accompaniment richly-mixed with ambiences of faith and trust, doubt and fear. READ MORE

Peter Mechen
Middle C, Classical Music Reviews
Wellington, NZ
September 15, 2011

This is a most extraordinary release. I guarantee it contains music like you’ve never heard before and that will leave you emotionally shattered and physically drained. …the performance and the recording are stunning, impactful, and overwhelming.

Jerry Dubins
Fanfare Magazine
Junuary, 2012
Mar, 2023: "Therefore Choose Life" performance  by IPO

Mar, 2023: "Therefore Choose Life" performance by IPO

An exceptional performance of Therefore Choose Life for Symphony Orchestra by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, took place in Tel-Aviv in March 2023.

This performance was recorded by MEDICI.TV and broadcasted around the world.

Below you can find the YouTube video from the live recording of the Israeli premiere.

        Lahav SHANI, Conductor
        Israel Philharmonic Orchestra 
        Duration: ca. 14 minutes
        Picc, 2 Fls, 2 Obs, 2 Cls, B.Cl, 2 Bsns, C.Bn, 4 Hns,
         3 Tpts, 3 Tbns, Tba, Timp, Perc (3), Hp, Cel, Str.

Oct, 2018: The Wandering Stars at the 20th International Harp Contest, Israel

Oct, 2018: The Wandering Stars at the 20th International Harp Contest, Israel

  • Duration: ca. 10 minutes
  • Harp Solo

For several days I was a guest at the 20th International Harp Contest in Israel.
It took place in the historic Knight’s Halls in the Old City of Akko, chosen by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

My piece The Wandering Stars for Harp Solo was in the program of the first stage of the competition, together with works of Haydn, Smetana, Salzedo, and Permont.

29 musicians from several countries, including Finland, Italy, Russia, the United States, France, South Africa, China, Serbia, Switzerland, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Germany, and Israel, participated in the contest, 21 of them choose to perform The Wandering Stars at the first stage.

It was an incredible and wonderful experience – to listen to a lot of very different interpretations of this piece  performed by such a talented musicians!

Sept, 2017: Amazing performance of “Poem of Dawn” at 44th International Viola Congress, Wellington, New Zealand

Sept, 2017: Amazing performance of “Poem of Dawn” at 44th International Viola Congress, Wellington, New Zealand

Here is another amazing performance of Poem of DawnRomantic Music for Viola and Symphony Orchestra, by Anna Serova, this time with conductor Hamish McKeich and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Composed in 2010, Poem of Dawn was performed by Anna Serova for the first time in 2013, with maestro Nicola Guerini and the Croatian Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra. In 2015, they recorded the piece for the Naxos Records CD, which won Pizzicato’s Supersonic Award.

        Anna Serova, Viola
        Hamish McKeich, Conductor
        New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
        Duration: ca. 15 minutes
        2 Fls, 2 Obs, 2 Cls, 2 Bsns, 4 Hns, 2 Tpts, 3 Tbns, Timp, Perc, Hp, solo Vla, Str.

Jun, 2015: NAXOS Records launched "Holocaust Requiem & Poem of Dawn" CD

Jun, 2015: NAXOS Records launched "Holocaust Requiem & Poem of Dawn" CD

As named, the CD contains two pieces for viola and symphony orchestra, both performed by the distinguished violist Anna Serova, with the Croatian Radio & TV Symphony Orchestra, conducted by maestro Nicola Guerini.

When Anna listened to the recording of Requiem’s premiere (performed by Rainer Moog, in Kiev) she told me that she wants to perform and record this piece herself. Together with her manager Alessandro Panetto and conductor Nicola Guerini, they made it happen: Requiem was recorded for NAXOS by the Croatian Radio and TV Symphony Orchestra.

When planning the Requiem recording, Anna asked me to write another composition for the disk. This is how Poem of Dawn was born: I wrote and dedicated this piece for Anna. Inspired by Nikolaj Kun’s Legends and Myths of Ancient Greece (1914), I used the style and compositional methods of the Russian Romantic school, which I believed to be particularly well-suited to the warm, expressive sound of Anna’s viola playing.

Poem premiered at the  Il Settembre dell’Accademia 2013, Teatro Filarmonico di Verona (Italy), and was recorded, together with  Requiem, for the NAXOS label. The NAXOS CD was released in June 2015; that same year, it received the Supersonic Award from Pizzicato Magazine and was nominated for the 2016 International Classical Music Awards (ICMA).

Below are the full recording and short samples from the CD (the CD is available from Amazon).

Recordings from the Naxos CD
Anna Serova, Viola
Nicola Guerini, Conductor
Symphony Orchestra of Croatian radio and TV



Samples from the Naxos CD

In spite of the more dramatic Dies Irae, Boris Pigovat’s Holocaust Requiem is a music of striking serenity, beauty and depth, becoming highly emotional in the performance by violist Anna Serova and the Croatian Radiotelevision Symphony Orchestra. The poetic and evocative Poem of the Dawn is no less appealing.

Remy Franck
PIzzicato Magazine
October, 2015

Violist Anna Serova is spectacular, delivering exceptionally confident, technically brilliant, sensitive renditions of Pigovat’s heartfelt scores...

Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found
August, 2015

Pigovat is a remarkably fine orchestrator. Poem of Dawn makes a fine contrast to the melancholy, passion and tragedy of the Requiem. Nevertheless it is the very fine Holocaust Requiem that I will return to most often. Anna Serova proves to be a first class soloist with the Croatian Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra under Nicola Guerini turning in first class performances.

Bruce Reader
The Classical Reviewer
July, 2015

Remembered on disc four and more decades ago, the famous Zagreb Radio Orchestra is the renamed orchestra that is providing a high impact Holocaust Requiem and the gorgeous sounds for the land in paradise created for the Poem. A thought provoking release much recommended.

David Denton
David's Review Corner
June, 2015
Feb, 2014: "Lux Aeterna" from the Holocaust Requiem, Pittsburgh, USA

Feb, 2014: "Lux Aeterna" from the Holocaust Requiem, Pittsburgh, USA

Lux Aeterna, the fourth part of Holocaust Requiem for Viola and Symphony Orchestra, merited another great performance, this time in the USA, performed by Tatjana Mead Chamis and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Manfred Honeck.

Mark Kanny, a classical music critic at Trib Total Media,  wrote how this performance was conceived:

Honeck first became aware of Pigovat’s music when the symphony’s associate principal violist Tatjana Mead Chamis told him about the composer’s Requiem — The Holocaust. Honeck came to love the piece and led the symphony in a performance of its Lux Aeterna movement with Chamis as soloist at a Music for the Spirit concert in 2014 at East Liberty Presbyterian Church.

Below is the recording from YouTube.