According to Saul Dreier, 90, of Coconut Creek, “stories like his don’t happen every day.”
Dreier, a retired owner of construction companies and grandfather of six, has always been an active, energetic person.
However, since last April, Dreier’s activity level has been in overdrive, as he has played around 80 concerts since then with the new band he has formed: “The Holocaust Survivor Band.”
And the band’s time demands only continue to grow, as requests for the band to play continue to come in from all over the world.
In addition, on June 28, the band will be recording a CD in a music studio in Deerfield Beach, and discussions are in progress, with contracts not yet signed, for a full-length documentary and a Broadway/off-Broadway show about the band.
While Dreier believes his band plays pleasingly, he admits it is not the music that is driving the band’s popularity, but its name, the “Holocaust Survivor Band,” and the novelty of a band of Holocaust survivors (and children of Holocaust survivors), spreading a message of peace, tolerance and forgiveness through its music.
Dreier said: “We are concerned about hatred in the world, so our band’s mission is to play music for world peace.”
Dreier got the idea for the band when Alice Herz-Sommer died last year at 110, the oldest-known Holocaust survivor at the time. An acclaimed classical pianist before World War II, Herz-Sommer and her young son were allowed to live because of the music she played in the Nazi concentration camps. Herz-Sommer continued to play piano for several hours every day right up until her death.
Dreier said: “When I read about this woman and how she could do it, I thought why not me?”
Dreier — who learned to play drums at a displaced persons camp in Italy after the war, but hadn’t played in many, many years — invested $1,000 in a new drum set when he got his idea and set about to put together his band.
A friend told him about Reuwen “Ruby” Sosnowicz, 86, of Delray Beach — who had been playing keyboard at the Café Europa gatherings of Holocaust survivors sponsored by local Jewish social-services agencies.
Sosnowicz was a hairdresser, photographer and professional musician who played in New York City Jewish theaters and the Catskills during its heyday in the mid-20th century.
Sosnowicz had been depressed and not playing much music, as he was serving as a full-time caretaker for his wife after she had suffered a stroke.
So when Dreier presented him with this idea to start the Holocaust Survivor Band, Sosnowicz jumped right on it.
Sosnowicz said: “Playing in this band has made me happier than I’ve been in years. It’s been like a dream come true.”
The Holocaust Survivor Band plays an assortment of tunes, including klezmer, the joyous Jewish folk music; Israeli music; and traditional Jewish music; as well as contemporary, international and Holocaust memorial music.
For more information about the Holocaust Survivor Band, including a schedule of upcoming gigs, or to make a financial contribution to the band, call Dreier at 954-868-4742.
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