06 November 2022
Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan is in Lithuania for the first time. During his inaugural State visit to Lithuania, Dayan visited several authentic sites today both in Kaunas and the capital, Vilnius, where Jews were massacred by the German Nazis and their local collaborators, including the infamous murder sites at the Ninth Fort and Ponary. During the remainder of his trip, Dayan will also meet with the Speaker of the Seimas, HE Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, HE Gabrielius Landsbergis and Lithuanian Prime Minister HE Ingrida Šimonytė.
In addition to these high-profile meetings, Dayan attended yesterday the world premiere of a new musical performance commissioned by Yad Vashem entitled "Vessels of Light: The Sugihara Symphony", on the stage of the Kaunas Concert Hall. This moving, large-scale symphonic work with music and libretto by internationally-renowned composer Lera Auerbach, is dedicated to the heroic actions of Japanese Vice-Consul Chiune Sempo Sugihara, who saved thousands of Jewish refugees during the Holocaust.
Chiune Sempo Sugihara, who issued visas alongside the Dutch Consul Jan Zwartendijk, acted in direct defiance of Japanese government policy, to several thousand Jews who sought to flee Europe. The recipients of Sugihara's visas were able to escape the tragic fate of millions of Jews in Europe. On 4 October 1984, Yad Vashem recognized Chiune Sempo Sugihara as Righteous Among the Nations, a title awarded on behalf of the State of Israel and the Jewish people for his selfless and courageous actions.
Officially titled "Symphony No. 6 for Cello, Choir and Orchestra - Vessels of Light”, Lera Auerbach’s monumental work, catalyzed by renowned cellist Kristina Reiko Cooper, combines symphonic music with a choral performance and libretto based on Yiddish poetry. The choice to premiere the Sugihara Symphony in Kaunas was deliberate, as it is the authentic location where these life-saving visas were issued during a short window of time in 1940.
Lithuanian Vice-Minister of Culture Vygintas Gasparavičius also attended the premiere spoke at the debut of a special Yad Vashem ready2print exhibition entitled Righteous Among the Nations, accompanying the symphony's opening. The exhibition depicts several unique stories of Righteous Among the Nations, those non-Jews who risked their lives to help save Jews from the Nazis during the Holocaust.
Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan stated:
"Hearing a musical performance and listening to the texts sung in Yiddish emanating from the stage in Kaunas nearly eighty years after the atrocities of the Shoah is extremely powerful. The impact and power of the arts cross both cultural, generational and linguistic divisions. Through the music and art like the Vessels of Light Symphony we are able to continue to inspire and engage people all over the world in Holocaust remembrance for generations to come."
This performance launches a world tour that includes performances at New York's Carnegie Hall in April 2023, as well as in Ottawa, Canada, Mexico City, Mexico, Los Angeles, USA, Budapest, Hungary, Berlin and Leipzig, Germany and Paris, France during 2023 and 2024.