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A Concert for Sugihara to feature the U.S. Premiere of Vessels of Light at Carnegie Hall

April 19, 2023

Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem and the American Society for Yad Vashem announce the American Premiere of Lera Auerbach’s Symphony No. 6, “Vessels of Light,” on April 19th, 2023 at Carnegie Hall. This moving, large-scale symphonic work for solo cello, choir and orchestra, was inspired by the heroism of Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese Vice-Consul to Lithuania, who saved thousands of Jewish refugees during WWII. Ms. Auerbach was approached by world-renowned Japanese-American-Israeli cellist Kristina Reiko Cooper to write the work, which will be performed at Carnegie Hall with Ms. Cooper as soloist, together with the New York City Opera Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Constantine Orbelian. Tickets are on sale at https://www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2023/04/19/A-Concert-for-Sugihara-0700PM.

Chiune Sugihara, who, alongside the Honorary Dutch Consul Jan Zwartendijk, issued thousands of life-saving exit visas, acted in direct defiance of their governments’ policy, rising above the terror of the Nazi regime and helping thousands of Jews fleeing Europe. Ms. Cooper’s husband’s father, Irving Rosen, was the recipient of one of Sugihara’s visas. In her words: “Chuine Sugihara’s story deeply touched me, and I felt utterly compelled to help bring this incredible story forward. I could not stop thinking about how my husband and children are alive, that they exist, because of this man’s bravery.”

In her monumental work, Symphony No. 6, “Vessels of Light” for Violoncello, Choir and Orchestra, Lera Auerbach weaves a multilayered tapestry of words and music with Yiddish poetry, the art of Japanese Kintsugi, the mystical Shevirat ha-kelim (“breaking of the vessels”), and the silent words of biblical Psalm 121 in a work she dedicates “to Chiune Sugihara and all those who risk everything to save others.” The Symphony was commissioned by Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, and the American Society for Yad Vashem. Yad Vashem has recognized Sugihara as one of the Righteous Among the Nations for his actions during this dark chapter of our recent history.

The Carnegie Hall program will also include “Guardian Angel” by Karen Tanaka, a piece symbolic of Sugihara acting as a guardian angel to the refugees. It was inspired by a passage from the Old Testament in Exodus: “Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared.”

The world premiere performance of Symphony No. 6, “Vessels of Light” took place on November 5, 2022 in Kaunas, Lithuania, where these life-saving visas were issued. Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan attended the performance together with many dignitaries and members of the diplomatic corps from around the world. This performance kicked off the international tour. Upcoming concerts include Prague on March 27, 2023, with the Czech Radio Philharmonic, the US West Coast premiere with Neal Stulberg conducting the UCLA Philharmonia and Chamber Singers on May 18, Festival Napa Valley on July 18, Warsaw, with Sinfonia Varsovia, on October 8, 2023, and the final concert of the year with the Dresden Philharmonie on November 11. Concerts resume again in 2024 with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in Germany, conducted by Alan Gilbert, on January 11 and 14; the Konzerthaus Orchester in Berlin, in the fall of 2024, and more performances to be announced. Kristina Reiko Cooper will be the cello soloist in all of these performances.


April 19, 2023


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