Grossmont’s Dr. Gonda and Prof. Benedetti to participate in factory fire commemoration

Alexis Jacquett


Alexis Jacquett

SAN DIEGO –San Diego State University will host a cantata to commemorate the women who lost their lives in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire 100 years ago. The concert on Wednesday, March 23, in Rhapsody Hall of the Music Building  is the only public event in San Diego that is being held to recognize this significant tragedy that helped shape some of the safety and labor laws today.

Yale Strom, the composer of this music piece, is in residence in the Jewish Studies program at SDSU. He “decided to write a composition to commemorate the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire’s 100th Anniversary.”

Dr. Sue Gonda is President of Grossmont’s Academic Senate, as well as a Women’s History Professor at Grossmont and SDSU. She also created the U.S. Women’s History courses at Grossmont. She will introduce this cantata.

The cantata will incorporate music and poetry in the English, Italian, and Yiddish languages.  There will be poetry recited in both English and Italian, and poetry sung in Yiddish. The two Yiddish songs that will be sung are “Fire Sacrifices” which was written after the fire and “The Calm Place.” Strom wrote a poem that will be sung in English called “Stench.”  The Performers for this concert are Yale Strom, Elizabeth Schwartz, Mark Dresser, Lou Fanucchi, and  Fred Benedetti.  The latter is a Guitarist and Music Professor at Grossmont.

March 25th 1911 was the day that about 146 women jumped to their deaths after a fire broke out in the Triangle Shirtwaist Company and there was no other way to leave the eighth, ninth and tenth floors of the factory. The women who perished were from Eastern and Southern Europe, and were Catholic or Jewish. They were considered to be “Un-American” outsiders because they were immigrants. According to Gonda, they had come to America in what was “the largest migration of people between continents between 1880-1914.”

This cantata was designed to remember and honor the women of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. There are still people today who work in harsh and unsafe conditions.

Jacquett is taking an independent Media Comm 199 class.