BUENOS AIRES, Argentina—It was what I’d imagined a classroom of sixty- and seventy-year-olds to be like. There was the mean kid, Guillermo, sitting in a corner. He didn’t really want to sing; you could tell he was just there for the company. There were the two ladies sitting in front of me chatting in between verses, arguing with the director. They were like little school girls who just couldn’t hold all their secrets in. And then, of course, there was the classroom jokester, the one who never sang his lines on key, and the women who sat at the front arguing with the teacher professing that they just knew they were on pitch.
Together, they were raucous and loud and very off-key. But they were more than that. They called themselves the “sobrevivientes,” sons and daughters of Holocaust survivors or Jews who had escaped before the Second World War to Argentina. And together they comprised a chorus that sung in English, Spanish, and Hebrew, proving that in music, language is no barrier and that—as one of the sobrevivientes told me—sometimes just hearing someone else’s voice and knowing they’re ok is in itself a melody for our heart to beat to.