The best-selling 1971 book, The Hiding Place, is the true story account of the efforts of the ten Boom family to help their persecuted Jewish friends after The Netherlands is invaded by the Nazis in 1940. The book recounts Corrie ten Boom’s perspective as the family home and business become a hiding place for the refugees. However, they are betrayed, Corrie along with her father, Casper and Betsie, are transported to a series of concentration camps. This review here is related to the American Christian organisation Focus On The Family’s three-and-a-half hour “Radio Theatre” audio drama adaptation based on the best-selling book. Recorded both in the UK and The Netherlands, the drama stars a number of British actors including Wendy Craig, Isla Blair and Alec McCowen and features an impressive score by Jared DePasquale. DePasquale, who studied under Joseph LoDuca in the mid-1990s, is a composer and orchestrator with over 25 years’ experience writing music for numerous projects for film and television and is a regular contributor to the Radio Theatre audio drama series productions.
There’s an overriding dark and melancholic feel to DePasquale’s score with string orchestra dominating alongside a number of soloists – including mezzo-soprano, violin and piano – to provide key additional “voices”. The score’s sombre tones, however, is balanced by a hopeful outlook and an inner strength that echoes the faith Corrie depends upon to get her through the events that befall her and her family. The score opens with “Goodbyes” and “The Hiding Place”, both cues that summarise the tone of the score as a whole. Herrmanesque strings in “Goodbyes” have an underlying sadness (a tone that pervades the score), whilst “The Hiding Place” sets out a melody that is the nearest the score gets to a lengthy theme. Faintly Eastern European in style, there’s also reference made in the music to the Jewish refugees.
DePasquale keeps away from using a grand sweeping theme but elects to focus on shorter “melodic cells”, particularly for the three main characters (Casper, Corrie and Betsie ten Boom). In addition, rather than having these short motifs being associated with specific characters, DePasquale uses the relationship and interplay of these short motifs as musical representations of the characters’ interaction in the drama. This musical idea is heard particularly well towards the end of the album. In “Betsie’s Death / Transcendence” these small motifs are brought together and layered one upon the other to reflect Corrie’s experiences at losing all those she holds dear. This cue underscores a particularly important point in the story and the layering of these main motifs creates a “wall of sound”, acting as a musical metaphor for Corrie’s defiance of the Nazis. The end result is a particularly strong track and a highlight of the score. DePasquale gives each concentration camp a different theme/motif that is played as the ten Boom’s are moved between camps during their captivity. “Scheveningen” opens with solo violin playing a doleful melodic line and featuring hints of music associated with the Jewish faith. A small string ensemble then restates the theme with a delicacy and tenderness that is surprisingly moving. Later, Corrie’s transfer to the notorious Ravensbrück results in a second musical idea: this theme for Ravensbrück retains the sorrowfulness heard in “Scheveningen“, but the addition of low brass adds a more threatening aspect (“Ravensbrück”). For the Nazis themselves there is no theme. Discordant clusters of sound (e.g., low and high strings of “The S.S. Man”) give a faceless threat aspect to whenever they Nazis are present, reinforcing the notion of the Germans as being a relentless and overpowering war machine.
The Nazis are not always represented musically as the “bad guys”. The use of a solo piano in “A Different Viewpoint” plays over an encounter between Corrie and a depressed Nazi officer as he tells her of the misery he is experiencing. Corrie’s compassion for the officer is reflected in the sadness of the piano. Solo violin reinforces the human struggles of those caught up in the story, particularly for the persecuted Jews: dark, sad tones dominate when their plight is at its most desperate (e.g., the aforementioned “Scheveningen” and “Freight Trains”). But the violin also emphasises the strength of the refugees early in the drama when the ten Boom’s efforts look like they will save their friends from the Nazi occupiers (“Building The Hiding Place”). One of the most powerful aspects of the score is the voice of mezzo-soprano, particularly when it is used for when Corrie is at her lowest point. Using text from Psalm 119 which is translated into Dutch, DePasquale has called this Corrie’s soliloquy and effective examples can be found towards the end of “Corrie’s Childhood / Raid On The Beje” when the refugees’ hiding place is discovered and in “Mijn Schuilplaats, Mijn Schild”. Translated as “My Shelter, My Shield” – making reference to text from Psalm 119 – where this thematic idea reflects Corrie’s faith that gives her strength.
The majority of the score is played from the perspective of the characters caught up in the drama and, as such, DePasquale’s score is grounded in the protagonists’ emotional status. Only occasionally does the music represent the story from the viewer’s perspective, i.e., the music mirroring the action. For example, when a Nazi guard beats a prisoner to death we hear the violence of the event, staccato string figures crescendo to a sudden and violent conclusion with strings, woodwinds and percussion (“The Snake”). These occasional outbursts are made more prominent by their presence amongst the more measured music of the emotional challenges faced by the characters. The score concludes with “Bloemendaal” and “Release and Remembrance” where, once again, the music is poignant but has a more uplifted feel reflecting the end of the war but, at the same time, is solemn in memory of those lost.
The Hiding Place is a very worthwhile album that deserves to be included in lists of quality music written for dramas about the persecution of vulnerable groups during times of conflict (e.g., Munich, Schindler’s List, etc). The composer captures well the emotional aspects of what the story’s protagonists go through. I’ve not come across Jared DePasquale before but from his resumé it seems that there’s a lot of his music still to be discovered. He has commented that he invested a lot of energy into the score for The Hiding Place and the success of these efforts can be heard in the music he has composed. The Hiding Place is available from online digital stores.
- Goodbyes (1:17)
- The Hiding Place (0:48)
- The Lieutenant (1:57)
- The S.S. Man (0:57)
- Scheveningen (1:58)
- Corrie’s Childhood / Raid On The Beje (2:32)
- Jacob Shall Return (1:11)
- Harry DeVries (2:07)
- Building The Hiding Place (1:49)
- A Child’s Life (2:07)
- Mijn Schuilplaats, Mijn Schild (2:59)
- Leaving Haarlem (3:15)
- Shrapnel (1:18)
- Corrie’s Vision / Invasion (3:15)
- A Man of The Cloth (0:59)
- Nollie’s Letter (2:30)
- Freight Trains (1:10)
- A Different Viewpoint (1:08)
- Betsie’s Goodbye (0:50)
- Ravensbrück (1:23)
- The Snake (1:59)
- Betsie’s Death / Transcendence (2:14)
- Betsie’s Vision (1:59)
- Bloemendaal (1:05)
- Release and Remembrance (3:41)
Running Time: 46:41
Focus On The Family (2015)