Chamber Singers

The Bloomington Chamber Singers gather in a warehouse on South Rogers Street for their first rehearsal of Annelies. Photo by Shannon Zahnle


The story of Anne Frank is well known — her wartime diary, written as an adolescent while her family hid from Nazi forces in Amsterdam, is among the world’s most widely read works of nonfiction. Many American students first encounter the book in middle-school literature classes, and The Diary of a Young Girl has been the subject of numerous dramatic works including a 1997 adaptation performed in 2008 by Bloomington’s Cardinal Stage Company.

As familiar as the story may be, Bloomington Chamber Singers Music Director Gerald Sousa believes a new window into Anne’s experience can be opened through music. On April 12 and 13, the ensemble will present Annelies, a setting of the diary text for choir and a soprano soloist accompanied by a violin, cello, piano, and clarinet quartet.

“I think a musical piece can offer a visceral experience that gives the story a real immediacy,” says Sousa. “The music is accessible. It allows you to get close to it.”

Taking Anne’s full first name as its title, the 69-minute work combines an original score completed in 2009 by Grammy-nominated British composer James Whitbourn and a libretto that Scottish author and poet Melanie Challenger compiled directly from the diary entries.

Like the book, Annelies chronicles Anne’s two years in hiding from July of 1942 until her family’s capture in August of 1944. The musical work adds a section drawn from historical records and Old Testament verses to represent Anne’s detainment and the several months she spent in concentration camps before dying of typhus at age 15.

Read the entire story here!