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By Mary Whitfill

The Diary of Anne Frank” will take on a new form as the Pilgrim Festival Chorus presents the modern choral work “Annelies” on April 11 and 12 at The Church of the Pilgrimage in Plymouth.

The work from British composer James Whitbourn aims to take listeners into the life and experiences of German teen Anne Frank, born Annelies Marie. The work is the first major setting of the written diary and is performed in 14 movements in 75 minutes.

“It’s a hauntingly beautiful piece of music,” Music Director William B. Richter said. “…There are times when it might remind you of music of several different years, many different styles of music, but the overall theme is one of despair. Obviously the story does not have a happy ending, but, at the same time, what comes through is her hope for mankind, her hope for peace and her ability to see beauty in the face of absolute terror.”

The Pilgrim Festival Chorus has been working on the piece at Monday rehearsals since January, but winter weather caused the group to miss four practice sessions.

“I’m very, very fortunate to work with such a fine group of musicians… they’ve really risen to the occasion,” Richter said. “This is one of the most moving pieces of music I’ve ever performed.”

Beth Slepian of The Anne Frank Center in Washington D.C. will host a pre-concert talk to speak about Anne Frank’s history, family, diary and legacy. She said she hopes this context presented prior to the performance will allow audience members to consider the importance of Frank’s legacy and how it can be applied to 21st century challenges.

“She is here to talk about why it is that we still hold the words and memories of this young girl so dear, and it is certainly about how she told the story, but also about how she was still able to see the beauty in humanity,” Richter explained.

The performances will take place just before Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 15.

“Without a doubt the Holocaust is one of the biggest blemishes on human history,” Richter said. “If this piece of music can speak to that, I think that’s something that we should do. We aren’t a political organization, but at the same time we see the meaning of a piece of music like that. ”

“Annelies” premiered in April of 2005 in London and in 2007 in the United States.

If you go

WHAT: “Annelies,” performed by the Pilgrim Festival Choir

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. April 11, 4 p.m. April 12

 WHERE: The Church of the Pilgrimage, 8 Town Square, Plymouth

TICKETS: $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $15 for students. Children under age 14 are free.


Mary Whitfill may be reached at

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