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Push opera goes to London

A special opera has wound its way from the city’s cathedral to Westminster on Monday, January 28.


A production with Chichester performers, which re-tells the true story of Simon Gronowski’s escape from Nazi terror, is being staged at the Speaker’s House.


The opera, Push, has already been performed at the cathedral and St Paul’s church in Chichester and will now be performed in London to mark international Holocaust Memorial Day and remember those who died in concentration camps.


Simon lived in Brussels, where he was taken at the age of 11, along with his mother and sister. Simon and his family were deported three Belgian resistance members stopped the train and fought the German train guards. Simon’s mother helped him down to the footstep and pushed him off the train.


There will also be another performance in Chichester at the Assembly Rooms at the City Council house on the Saturday before.


Cllr Clare Apel, chairman of Chichester Marks Holocaust Memorial Day Committee, has campaigned to get the opera shown at Westminster and worked with the mayor, Cllr Martyn Bell and MP for Chichester, Gillian Keegan.


Mrs Keegan attended the performance for International Holocaust Memorial Day in 2018 at the cathedral and Cllr Apel said to her: “This should be shown in Parliament with all the anti-Semitism and anti-migrants going on, it’s so relevant now. She agreed and I told her I wouldn’t let it go!


“Part of the group had never even sung before doing this opera and they are now going to do it in the House of Commons.


“They are absolutely amazing. It’s incredible what you can do with a community involvement when they are really focused on something that is really at the heart of what people should be thinking.


Mrs Keegan and her husband, Michael, spoke to The Speaker, John Bercow, and managed to arrange the performance with the main guests being MPs from all parties.


Cllr Apel said it had been challenging organising the event with high security issues and a smaller choir due to space restrictions.


Composer Howard Moody even had to change the music slightly as there is a restricted band because they are unable to take a double bass or drums into the Speaker’s House.


Cllr Bell said it was a great honour and privilege to be invited to Westminster. He said: “I will be meeting Simon Gronowski and looking after him as he will also be in attendance for thid performance.


“It is a lovely opportunity for the children to go there and be part of it.


“It all started this time a couple of years ago with Anthony Cane, now the Dean of Portsmouth, asking if we would put on an opera in the cathedral.”


The Westminster performance is part of a combination of events including a performance of Push on Saturday, January 26, at the Assembly Rooms and a free film screening at New Park Road Cinema on Sunday, January 27.


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