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Cello Music for Holocaust Remembrance Day

To commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah), we look at a new album of works by composer Laurence Sherr, Fugitive Footsteps: Remembrance Music, which includes beautiful pieces for the cello.

Fugitive Footsteps: Remembrance Music

Although not exclusively a cello album, Dr. Laurence Sherr’s Fugitive Footsteps: Remembrance Music features the cello on seven of the eight tracks. The focus of this album is the “spirit of resilience.” While Sherr has not shied away from representing suffering, despair, “persecution, trauma, and survivor’s guilt” in his compositions, he creates a musical story of “silent and active opposition, hope, renewal, and the eventual overcoming of adversity.”

Through remembrance and tribute, these compositions unapologetically aim to tell stories of Holocaust resistance and survival, not only in concept but also in their individual tonal language: at all times fully conscious of their cultural roots, vast heritage, a sacrosanct sense of belonging, and the duty of defending these treasures. But perhaps, even more, these works reveal pathways to clearer, brighter horizons. – Navona Records

The album was released on 10 March 2023, and both Dr. Laurence Sherr and the cellist performing on five of the seven tracks featuring the cello, Dr. Inbal Megiddo, kindly gave the Cello Museum interviews.

The following interview transcripts have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

An Introduction to Fugitive Footsteps

Before reading about Dr. Sherr’s cello works, here is his introduction to the album as a whole:

Meet Composer Laurence Sherr

Laurence Sherr. Photo by Lauren Kress.

Laurence Sherr. Photo by Lauren Kress.

Cello Museum (CM)

Congratulations on your new album, Fugitive Footsteps: Remembrance Music! Your compositions on the album, with the exception of the title work, all feature the cello. Please tell us about your relationship with the cello, particularly as a voice for your compositions and your use of the cello in the works on this album.

Dr. Laurence Sherr (LS)

I love the timbre of the cello. As a listener, I find the sonorous and rich quality of its sound to have deep appeal. Compositionally, it is a dream to write for, like having a four-octave vocalist with expressive potential spanning cantabile to bravura, and emotionally capable of everything from sweet tenderness to dark soulfulness to technical fireworks.

Elegy and Vision for solo cello, the earliest work on the album, is probably my most performed work. Hearing the resonant and expressive playing of the cellists who have performed it was instrumental in my continued use of the cello in other works.

When I was conceiving my cello sonata, my idea was to create a composition whose purpose, in addition to being a standard concert work, would extend to exposing audiences to the artistic work of creators oppressed under Nazi rule. Following in the line of my two previous vocal compositions that set poems of Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Nelly Sachs [to music], I intended to create an instrumental composition that would draw on the songs and singing of Holocaust-era creators and that would educate audiences about them. With its lyrical abilities, the cello was an ideal instrument.

I chose cello as an essential instrument for the chamber ensemble version of Flame Language (there is also a chamber orchestra version) because of all the qualities I have described.

The music begins at 6:35 after an introduction by Laurence Sherr.
The request of a bassoon-cello duo for a new composition led to the version of Khayele’s Waltz for that instrumental combination, and the subsequent versions, all featuring cello plus another instrument, were arranged for specific concerts or performers. I have also arranged a couple of my other works for the bassoon-cello duo.


What was your first experience with a cello?


I was certainly exposed to cello performers and music during my university studies, but it was only when I began to write for it, which included having performers demonstrate the cello’s potential and my score study of cello repertory, that the instrument became more meaningful to me. With each cellist that I have worked with during writing or rehearsing my compositions, perhaps especially the cellists in the international consortium performing my cello sonata, I became more drawn to the instrument.


Have you written any unaccompanied works for the cello that we can add to our list of works for the cello inspired by Hebraic themes?


The final track on the album is Elegy and Vision for solo cello. Written in memory of my brother Edwin Neal Sherr, the composition is meant to commemorate Neal’s life as well as to convey a sense of resolution and hope. It was composed intuitively, and it was only later that I became fully aware of the compositional influences of the Judaic cantorial lamentations I had heard during my youth.

Elegy and Vision was subsequently chosen for programming in Holocaust commemorations, and this led me to think more deeply about the connection between my brother and my mother’s sister, Edith, who perished in Auschwitz during the Holocaust and for whom he was named. The resultant epiphany, that I could write works intended for remembering the Holocaust, guided me to write all the other works on the Fugitive Footsteps: Remembrance Music album.

Upcoming Projects


Please tell us about your upcoming projects that include the cello.


I am planning to write a work on poetry of Italian author Primo Levi. The planned instrumentation is tenor solo, mixed chorus, violin, clarinet, and cello.

Works by Dr. Laurence Sherr that Feature the Cello

  • Sonata for Cello and Piano–Mir zaynen do! (24 min.) – Album tracks 1–3
  • Flame Language for mezzo-soprano/alto/baritone, clarinet, cello, piano, and percussion (10 min.) – Album track 7
  • Khayeles Waltz,  a duo for cello and another instrument, with versions for cello plus clarinet, soprano saxophone, bassoon, viola, or viola d’amore (4 min.) – Album tracks 4 and 6
  • Elegy and Vision for solo cello (7 min.) – Album track 8
  • String Trio (7 min.) – One (plus) for cello, percussion, and dancer(s) (8 min.)
  • The Fiber Sculptures of a Celestial Vision for piano quartet (14 min.)
  • Dream Fragments for violin and cello (1 min.)
  • Trio in Baroque Style for 2 violins and cello, or violin, clarinet, and cello (2 min.)

Where to Purchase Dr. Sherr’s Sheet Music

Purchase sheet music directly from Dr. Sherr through his publishing company: Laurence Sherr Music. Contact him via email or telephone (770-457-8059).

How to Follow and Support Dr. Sherr’s Work

Meet Cellist Inbal Megiddo

Inbal Megiddo. Photo by

Inbal Megiddo. Photo by Charles Brookes.

Although the work of three cellists* is represented on this album, Dr. Inbal Megiddo is the performer on five of the seven tracks that feature the cello. 


Congratulations on your new recording of music by Dr. Laurence Sherr, Fugitive Footsteps: Remembrance Music! Please tell us more about this recording project that features your playing on five of the eight tracks.

Dr. Inbal Megiddo (IM)

Thank you. This is a very special project. I met Laurence Sherr in 2014 when he was a keynote speaker at a conference on Forbidden Voices I co-organized in Wellington, New Zealand. At the conference, he showed me his cello sonata, which he was still in the process of writing.

We often say that the cello is closest to the human voice. The second movement of the sonata captures this incredibly, transforming the cello into a cantor singing, and capturing an incredible range of emotions. This piqued my interest in the rest of his compositions and Laurence sent me more of his works.

He has a marvelous way of using traditional and familiar sounds to create something novel and in so doing, finding a connection to the present. I debuted the sonata in New Zealand, Australia, and Israel, among other places. We decided to collaborate on the recording, and Laurence came to New Zealand. We recorded the works on the CD at the concert hall at the New Zealand School of Music, Victoria University of Wellington

Other Recordings by Dr. Inbal Megiddo


You recorded the Complete Cello Works of Beethoven, Imagined Dances (an album also featuring the viola d’amore), Invenium Viam, and an award-winning recording of the Debussy Sonata. Please tell us more about these.


Beethoven’s Sonatas and Variations are such incredible works. Recording the complete set was like going on a journey, bringing out the details in the scores that connect them, seeing the development from one work to the next, with an overarching view of Beethoven’s life to help view it as a whole. I had a wonderful partner to collaborate with, pianist Jian Liu. 

The Debussy CD was an exciting project to work on. It includes the cello sonata which is such a marvelous work full of innovative sounds and gestures. I think of it as a work in 3 dimensions that allows the performer to explore and expand their color palette. Also on the CD is the violin sonata, beautifully performed by Martin Riseley and Jian Liu, the other two members of the Te Kōki Trio. We were incredibly honored to have had the CD recognized by the New Zealand Music Awards.

Imagined Dances is a bit of an unusual combination of instruments, featuring a collaboration between cello, guitar, and a viola d’amore – a very rarely played instrument. There are really charming works on the CD, some are arrangements of existing works but the instrumentation brings out very different things in the score. We also collaborated with composers resulting in pieces written specifically for this CD and instrument combination.

Invenium Viam was an exploration of a completely different genre which really stretched my improvisation skills to create a very different sound world.  


How do you choose your recording projects?


I like to choose projects that challenge me and that will have an impact, that might change the way we do or listen to the music, or where my interpretation adds a new dimension to the work. Context can completely change the way you perceive a work, so the other works on the program can make you listen to a piece that you might have already heard dozens of times in a new way.  

I find it interesting and very rewarding to find works that may have been neglected and bring them to the concert stage and recording studio. Several of my projects include giving voice to music composed by women and minority composers.

I was lucky enough to have had lessons with Rostropovich and one of the things I admired most was how he used music to promote humanitarian causes. This definitely left an impression on me and shaped how I view my role as a musician and performer. 

“This! This!” – Cello Beginnings


What was your first experience with a cello?


My mother is a violinist, my grandmother a pianist, my aunt a composer – music was a part of the home. When I was two, my mother had to get something fixed in her violin and I came with her. I pointed at a small cello and yelled, “This! This!” and refused to leave the store without it! Luckily that was one toddler tantrum my mother gave in to, and that paid off.  

Finding Balance – Intertwined Aspects of Creativity


How do you find balance as a soloist, recording artist, and professor?


I am about as lucky as one can be in this profession. I get to travel and perform around the world and connect with the audience live. Through recordings, [I] bring this music to people’s homes. I get to work with students and help them find their own voice and path, help them develop their own sound and technique and interpretation. It’s the best of all possible worlds, and I learn so much from this process myself.

You ask how I balance it – it is demanding and time consuming, but these aspects are intertwined and part of the creative and learning process; I don’t see them as separate at all. Being a soloist makes me a better teacher, and being a teacher, a better performer. 



Please tell us about the cello or cellos you play.


I currently play on a Guiseppe Fiorini cello, a modern Italian instrument made in 1923. Fiorini purchased and used Stradivarius’s own tools to make his instruments. It is a beautifully made instrument with a warm sound, and not as temperamental as some of the older instruments.  

The Stradivari Society of Chicago has also loaned me a wonderful golden age Strad to use in performances which was an incredible treat. The instrument is incredible – there is a golden shimmer and clarity to the sound, and an infinite range of colors limited only by your own imagination. 


What is your favorite cello you have ever played?


My favorite cello was a beautiful Goffriller I got to play on for a few months. Its sound was like a rich chocolate, with incredible depth. While I had it, I quickly hopped into the recording studio at Yale and recorded the first Bach suite. While I love my Fiorini, I do still lust after this Gofriller… 


What is the most unusual cello you’ve ever played?


I’m not sure if it qualifies as unusual, but I own and play on a Luis and Clark carbon fiber cello. I like this instrument a lot – has great projection; [it is] easy to play, and indestructible! 

Upcoming Projects


Please tell us about your upcoming cello projects.


I have quite a variety of projects I am in the midst of. As I said above, I love a challenge and being able to do things that will have reach and impact.  

I just finished recording the Bach Suites, which will be released very soon on Atoll Records and Naxos International. I’m very excited for the complete set to come out. I recorded them in Wellington, at the Stella Maris Chapel which was converted by film director Peter Jackson (of Lord of the Rings fame), into a recording studio. It’s really the perfect place for this project, sound-wise, and has the most beautifully inspiring views to match, at the top of a mountain overlooking Wellington Harbor. Also appropriate, as recording the suites can feel about as epic as battling for Middle Earth. One does not simply walk into a Bach Suite… 

Another recording that has an imminent release date is called “Forbidden Voices.” This is an album of works by composers banned by the Nazis. It was a very difficult task to narrow down and pick which works to put on this album. There are so many incredible composers and pieces that deserve to be given a voice. Several works on the recording will be premiere recordings of composers who had been silenced. Others might be familiar, but the context will shed a different light on the works. I intend to record another album in the future as there really wasn’t enough space to include everything.

I am also working on a recording of works by women composers, as well as the Schumann Cello Concerto.

Another little project brewing at the moment is on the pedagogical front. I wanted to demystify and make more accessible one of the pillars of cello technique: the Popper Etudes. I recorded all 40 etudes along with tutorials discussing the challenges of each etude, with the goal of helping cellists gain an understanding and mastery of the techniques each etude poses, and then transferring that knowledge to their repertoire and using it to overcome any technical challenge, and more importantly, develop their powers of interpretation. It is a misconception that people need to be big or strong to play the cello well!

A project I am immensely excited about is a collaboration with an amazing US-based documentary film director, Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri, bringing the story of the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz to life through music and interviews with survivors.

I recently collaborated with Indrani and completed a project for the nonprofit White Ribbon, a film that highlights domestic abuse, with the aim of raising awareness and protecting women and children from domestic violence worldwide.

How to Follow and Support Dr. Inbal Megiddo


Winner of Fugitive Footsteps Giveaway

Dr. Sherr generously donated an autographed copy of his new album for a giveaway. The winner will also receive a Cello Museum T-shirt. Congratulations to Angie Sutliff of Menomonie, WI, USA, the winner of this CD and T-shirt!

Not a winner this time? We’ll have more soon. Be sure to sign up for our weekly newsletter to hear about our latest giveaways.

Looking for even more music to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day?

Please see our two-part collaboration with the London Cello Society, Selma Gokcen, Chair, Soul Music: Works for the Cello Inspired by Hebraic Themes.

Thank You

Thank you, Dr. Sherr and Dr. Megiddo for the great interviews! Thank you, Dr. Sherr, for the signed CD for the giveaway, too! Thank you, Patrick Niland, of Parma Recordings for help in coordinating these.

*The cellists performing on this album are Inbal Megiddo, Rebecca Rust, and Charae Krueger.

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