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Music benefit is personal for Hamlisch

By JOHN FLEMING

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 23, 2001


As a child, composer Marvin Hamlisch heard about the Holocaust from his parents, who told him of family members who perished in the death camps.

Tonight, Hamlisch joins the Florida Orchestra in a benefit for the Florida Holocaust Museum and the Musicians Pension Fund of the orchestra.

"Marvin had grandparents who were victims of the Holocaust, and he cites that loss as an integral part of his upbringing," said Larry Wasser, executive director of the museum. "It gave him a great feel for trying to make the world a better place."

Hamlisch, who is Jewish, has visited the Holocaust Museum in downtown St. Petersburg. He donated his fee for tonight's performance, as have the orchestra musicians, at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater.

The program will include some lesser known Hamlisch movie music, such as selections from The Swimmer. His suite from Sophie's Choice will be played alongside excerpts from John Williams' score for another Holocaust-themed movie, Schindler's List, with concertmaster Amy Schwartz as soloist. Hamlisch will premiere a work he has written for the occasion.

Resident conductor Thomas Wilkins will lead the first half of the program, a selection of light classical pieces by Bernstein (Candide overture), Copland (from his score for The Red Pony) and others. Tenor Stephen Lehew will also be featured.

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