Faculty and Staff Honors: Holocaust Remembrance, New Compositions, Top Local Album in 2020

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February 9, 2021

Recent honors and accomplishments from the University of Washington faculty include a keynote address at a national Holocaust remembrance event, an album of new compositions, and a musical nod from the Seattle Times.

Sephardic Studies chair Devin Naar speaks at Holocaust remembrance event

Devin Naar

Devin Naar, professor of history and Jewish studies at UW and chair of the Jackson School’s Sephardic Studies program, delivered a keynote address for the third annual Sephardic Heritage International DC Holocaust commemoration in Congress, held virtually on January 28.

The event, sponsored by the United States Representative Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland, had the theme “Holocaust Refugees”. The guest speaker was Albert Bourla, CEO of pharmaceutical company Pfizer, who spoke about the survival of his Sephardic Jewish family in the Holocaust; his parents were among the few Jews to survive the Nazi assault on Thessaloniki, Greece.

Naar spoke about Claire Barkey Flash, author of the 2016 memoir A Hug From Afar: One Family’s Dramatic Journey Through Three Continents to Escape the Holocaust. The Barkey family emigrated from the Mediterranean island of Rhodes to Tangier, and finally to the United States. Naar, who is Professor Isaac Alhadeff in Sephardic Studies, wrote a preface for the book.

Sephardic Heritage International DC is a non-profit organization that celebrates Sephardic culture and raises awareness of the history of under-represented Jewish communities. Watch a video of the event.

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Melia Watras releases new album, “Firefly Songs”

Melia Watras

Violinist, composer and music teacher Melia Watras release a new album in january. “Firefly songs, Featuring 14 of Watras’ compositions performed with the Frequency ensemble and other guests, was released by Seattle-based Planet M Records.

The album’s notes indicate that the compositions “are a reflection on stories, artistic influences and people who are interconnected points of light of one’s own personal folklore.” Watras composed the music, for various instruments and voices, from 2015 to 2018.

The members of Frequency are Watras, viola and vocals; Michael Jinsoo Lim, violin and voice; and Sæunn Thorsteinsdottir, cello. The album also features the voices of Catherine Connors and Vina Vu Valdés, as well as excerpts from recorded viola lessons given by Atar Arad. Watras is Professor Adelaide D. Currie Cole, viola.

Watch a video Overview of the album.

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Ted Poor’s “You Already Know” Ranked Among Best Local Albums of 2020

An album by Ted Poor, assistant professor of drums at the UW School of Music, was named to the Seattle Times' list of the best albums of 2020.

Ted Poor

An album of Ted Poor, an assistant professor at the UW School of Music, was named to the Seattle Times’ list of best albums of 2020. Poor “You already knowWas released in March.

The Times asked 15 music critics to submit their top 10 lists for 2020, then combined the results. “You already know” tied at No. 19 on the list. Although COVID prevented an in-person album release, The Times wrote, “This beautifully austere duet with saxophonist Andrew D’Angelo … hardly went unnoticed.”

Tag (s): Devin Naar • Jackson School of International Studies • Melia Watras • School of Music • Sephardic Studies Program • Stroum Center for Jewish Studies • Ted Poor

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