RUTH FAZAL – A Biography for professional use
Violinist, Composer, Singer and Recording Artist
Born in England, Ruth Fazal studied violin, piano and composition at Dartington College of Arts, and at the Guildhall School of Music in London, before completing her studies on the violin in Paris, France. In the mid 70’s Ruth emigrated with her husband to Canada, where she has worked as a professional violinist for many years and has acted as concert master of several orchestras. Ruth has more than 35 recordings of her own music – instrumental, songs, and classical compositions.
In the year 2000 Ruth’s life took a different turn, when she was given a copy of the book “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” containing the poetry and drawings of children who were held in the ghetto of Terezin (Theresienstadt) between 1941-44. Of the more than 15,000 children that passed through the ‘way-station’ of the ghetto of Terezin, little more than 100 survived, and most were sent to Auschwitz, where they were killed.
Ruth felt led to take some of these poems and to combine them with portions from the Tanach (Bible). “I knew that these poems were about the Jewish people and were written in the context of the Holocaust” says Ruth, “but I never imagined the outcome of the journey that I was embarking on.”
Thus was born Oratorio Terezin – a work for symphony orchestra, children’s choir, mixed chorus, and three soloists.
2003 Oratorio Terezin World Premiere
Three years later, highly endorsed by the Jewish community in Toronto, (B’nai Brith and UJA) and included in Toronto Holocaust Education Week, Oratorio Terezin received it’s World Premiere at the Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts. The hall was full, and many holocaust survivors attended as honoured guests. The New Streams Symphony Orchestra and Children’s Choir, The Mendelssohn Singers and three international soloists, all under the baton of maestro Kirk Trevor performed the work, and Ruth was the concert master of the orchestra. The headline the next morning in the newspaper read: “Oratorio Terezin both breaks and warms the heart”. It was a resounding success.
2004 Europe Tour – Bratislava, Vienna, Brno and Prague
A tour of Oratorio Terezin to four major cities, with performances in some of the great concert halls of Europe followed in March 2004. The New Streams Children’s Choir from Toronto joined with the Bratislava Boys Choir, the Slovak Radio Orchestra and Chorus, along with soloists who travelled from Canada and the US. Ruth was honorary concert master of the Slovak Radio Orchestra, under maestro Kirk Trevor.
Whilst in Bratislava, Ruth received a special award on behalf of the Jewish community and before the concert in Prague, Ruth opened an event that took place in the Czech Parliament building, in honour of the performance of Oratorio Terezin, with the purpose of addressing the history of Anti-Semitism in the Czech Republic. High level speakers from the Government, and from the Jewish and Christian communities took part in this event. Arthur Avnon, then Israeli Ambassador to the Czech Republic, attended the concert in Prague. After hearing the performance, he remarked, ‘It’s like bringing the dead to life again”
2005 Israel Tour – Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Karmiel
On May 5th 2005, Oratorio Terezin was chosen by the city of Tel Aviv to be the main cultural event for Holocaust Memorial Day. The Mann Auditorium was filled, and over 700 Holocaust survivors were there as honoured guests. The Israel Chamber Orchestra and the Bat Kol choirs were joined by children from Toronto and Slovakia together with soloists and conductor Kirk Trevor. Concerts followed in the Jerusalem Theatre, and in the concert hall in Karmiel.
2007 New York City – Oratorio Terezin in Carnegie Hall.
The US premiere of Oratorio Terezin took place at Carnegie Hall, NYC in February 2007. The Young People’s Chorus of New York City together with The New Streams Children’s Choir and the Mendelssohn Singers of Toronto, performed under the direction of Kirk Trevor, with Ruth as the concert master of the orchestra. Ruth is also the subject of an award-winning documentary – ‘I Will Not Die’ – which tells the story of the journey of Oratorio Terezin. This film has been shown several times on Israeli TV channel 1.
2009 Awakening – A symphonic Vision
Following the success of Oratorio Terezin, a recording of two new compositions– Awakening and Jerusalem Suite were released in 2009, and Ruth spent many months travelling to different parts of the world to share Awakening, as a way of helping people to enter into what she would describe as “God’s heart and purpose for Israel”
September 2011 onwards
In September 2011 Ruth made a bold move, and left behind her life as a professional violinist in Toronto to go and live in Israel for a year; to play her violin for Holocaust survivors, and to study the Hebrew language, which she felt passionate about. A year stretched to two, and then to three, as she remained to play her violin for Holocaust survivors, as well as at a local hospital in Tel Aviv. Ruth feels called to be alongside the Jewish people in their homeland, and that feeling has only increased as she has spent more time there. For her first three years in Israel Ruth was living on a rooftop in central Jerusalem, and she then moved to a small apartment in a community in Samaria. Since Ruth’s move to Israel in 2011, she has recorded 5 new CDs. Ruth chose to record in Tel Aviv. “I want my music to come out of Israel” she says. These new CDs include songs in Hebrew, instrumental music, and a special CD of violin music – “I Remember” which she recorded especially to be given as gifts to Holocaust survivors, to remind them of her visits to them in their apartments, or in their places of residence. Ruth’s music is known throughout the world.
Between Heaven and Earth
Since 2010, learning the Hebrew language has been and continues to be a focus for Ruth, and it was in this context that she began to have conversations with her young Israeli Hebrew teacher, Gil Pentzak – a Modern Orthodox Jew. Out of these conversations grew a desire in Ruth to share with her Christian world what she was learning. In 2013 Ruth produced a documentary film, Between Heaven and Earth which tells the story of her journey since being in Israel. Together with Gil Pentzak, the film documents the beginnings of their discussions together, as Christian and Orthodox Jew, and this has led them to host No Ordinary Week in Jerusalem – a week in Israel together with Ruth and Gil, as they model the process of learning to walk alongside one another as Jew and Christian, with no agenda to change one another, but rather to learn from each other with honour and respect. “This is what my heart beats with right now” says Ruth. “To build bridges and to break down the walls of fear and separation that exist between Jews and Christians is so important” she explains. Already Ruth and Gil have hosted four ‘NOW in Jerusalem’ weeks, and there are more planned in the future. Invitations are now beginning to come from other parts of the world, to come and share their message, and consequently to encourage people to come to visit Israel.
Ruth continues to perform wherever she goes, both on the violin, and through sharing her songs and her compositions. Among the many countries that Ruth has performed in are UK, Netherlands, Germany, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, Switzerland, Germany, Ireland, Belgium, France, Cyprus, South Africa, Chile, Australia, Canada, and USA. In recent years, Ruth has spoken in many countries about her journey, to encourage others to come and visit and to experience for themselves the amazing country of Israel and her wonderful people.
Ruth’s most recent composition, Ezekiel is written for choir, orchestra and two soloists. Central to this new work is the retelling of Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones coming to life. (Ezekiel 37:1-14) On either side of the Ezekiel text is a psalm. Psalm 137 (“By the rivers of Babylon…”) and Psalm 126 (“When the Lord brought us back…”) Ezekiel tells the story of exile and redemption, and the piece reminds us of God’s faithfulness to His Word. “…And I will bring you back to the land of Israel, and you My people will know that I have done it…”
2018 – Israel Tour- A Vision. A Dream. A Reality.
Ezekiel was recorded with the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra, Lucnica Choir, and two wonderful soloists from Canada – Daniel Lichti (Voice of God) and Lawrence Wiliford (Ezekiel) conducted by maestro Kirk Trevor.