Memories and Melodies of Auschwitz

  • April 1, 2019

  • 7:00 pm  to  9:00 pm

We invite you to join us for
“Memories and Melodies of Auschwitz”

with Celina Karp Biniaz,

one of the last living survivors from Schindler’s List
and a graduate of North High School and Grinnell College

and Alex Biniaz-Harris and Ambrose Soehn,

Pianists and Composers of Melodies of Auschwitz

Performed at the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz, January 2015

This is the first time Celina, Alex, and Ambrose are presenting together!

Event Details

Monday, April 1, 2019
7 PM – 9 PM

Tifereth Israel Synagogue
924 Polk Blvd.
Des Moines, IA 50312


Melodies of Auschwitz – Video

A behind-the-scenes look at how two USC students composed a piano piece inspired by Holocaust survivor testimony in the new documentary Melodies of Auschwitz. Courtesy of the USC Shoah Foundation.

Melodies of Auschwitz

Alex Biniaz-Harris and Ambrose Soehn

Memories of Auschwitz

Celina Karp Biniaz

About Our Featured Guests

Celina Karp Biniaz was born in Krakow, Poland in 1931. When she was 8 years old, her normal childhood changed forever when the Germans invaded and all of Krakow’s Jews were moved into a ghetto. She and her parents, Irvin and Phyllis Karp, spent nearly 5 years in the Krakow ghetto and the Plaszow labor camp before their names were added to Schindler’s List. When the women on Schindler’s List were being moved to his factory in Czechoslovakia, the railcars were “accidentally” diverted to Auschwitz. There Celina had a terrifying encounter with Dr. Joseph Mengele, the “Butcher of Auschwitz” before she, her mother, and the other women on Schindler’s list were rescued by Schindler and were reunited with her father in Schindler’s factory. Schindler’s factory was liberated on May 9, 1945. In January, 2015, Celina returned to Auschwitz for the commemoration of the liberation.

Alex Biniaz-Harris uses music to tell stories and pursue positive social change. Born and raised in Washington, DC, Alex moved to Los Angeles to study business and classical piano at the University of Southern California. There he worked for several years at USC Shoah Foundation, a nonprofit organization that archives over 55,000 video interviews of genocide survivors. In that collection are the testimonies of Alex’s grandmother, Celina Biniaz, and great-grandmother, Phyllis Karp, a long-time member of the Tifereth Israel Synagogue congregation with his great-grandfather Irwin Karp. Alex uses his platform as a third-generation survivor to showcase marginalized communities and to champion the power of the human spirit using the universal language of music.

Ambrose Soehn is a musician and software product manager based in Los Angeles, CA. He began playing piano at the age of four and went on to study classical piano performance and neuroscience at the University of Southern California. Inspired by the psychological mechanisms behind music, he first became interested in music therapy research and proposed a social program in Rwanda to help genocide survivors process residual trauma through the creation of music. Since then, Ambrose has explored other situations where music composition and performance can be used as a powerful tool for social bonding and emotional expression. His goal is to continue using art to unite communities around challenges faced in today’s world.


Thank you to our sponsors for making this event possible. If you’d like to be a sponsor, contact Sandi at 515-987-0899 ext. 216 or


Larry and Suzanne Engman


Lou and Marilyn Hurwitz and Gail Richards


Des Moines Area Community College War and the Human Experience Series


Admission is free but seating is limited. Make your reservation using the form below. To reserve your seat over the phone, call 515-987-0899 ext. 213.

While there is no cost to attend, we greatly appreciate donations. Please consider making a gift to the Iowa Jewish Historical Society.