(Originally published at Princeton Online)
“The Requiem Mass for the Homeless offers a sound world of healing, and is as appropriate for the massively displaced homelessness of the Ukrainian refugees as it is for the homeless on the streets of San Francisco or Trenton,” said Alicia Brozovich, artistic director of The LOTUS Project. “Once I connected with Frank La Rocca to request our using it as the centerpiece of the benefit concert, I learned that his mother was born to Ukrainian parents who resided in Trenton. That sealed the deal.”
La Rocca is the grandson of early 20th century Ukrainian immigrants who made a home in Trenton, and this piece was selected as it relates to the plight of all those displaced by the war in Ukraine, and the deep spiritual traditions of Ukrainian people.
“My grandparents came to Trenton in 1918 from Ukraine to escape the Bolsheviks,” said La Rocca. “They lived and worked among other Ukrainian and Polish immigrants, learning a little English from my mother, who picked it up when she went to school at age 5. Stepan and Anna Siminowicz were good, simple people who loved their adopted country, but remained immersed in their native tongue and customs within their Ukrainian-Polish enclave in Trenton. After Stepan’s death, my ‘Baba’ came to live with us in Clifton.”