23 August 2011
On September 8, 2011, a unique concert featuring the stirring words of Holocaust survivors, performed by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra - IBA, soloists and choirs from Israel and the United States, and conducted by Gil Shohat will take place at Yad Vashem. The concert will take place in the presence of President Shimon Peres, Holocaust survivors and their families, and official State guests, including members of the Diplomatic Corps. It is the Israeli premiere of the piece.
Created by composer Dr. Lawrence Siegel and named for the Jewish prayer for the dead, Kaddish - I am Here conveys the stories of Holocaust survivors in their own words, in their own languages, providing a window into their experiences. According to Dr. Siegel, “Because of the verbatim use of testimony, the messages are an authentic and accurate reading of the feeling and thoughts of some of the survivors of the Holocaust.” Kaddish consists of fifteen movements for chorus, soloists and orchestra based on firsthand accounts of Holocaust survivors. In words and music, it illustrates a specific moment in history while illuminating the Holocaust as a profound human tragedy whose repercussions are still felt today. The piece moves from vignettes about life in central Europe before the Holocaust, through poignant, individual descriptions of the darkest of days, and ends with the resiliency of the survivors. One of the key movements is a litany of thousands of names of Holocaust victims.
“I had a little sister, five years younger than myself. / Her name was Raysha. / My daughter’s name is Raysha…/ My little sister was 8 years old. / A German officer came, he tore her away from my mother And he pushed her to the left side of the field. / My mother said to my father, / We need to go with Raysha. / I started crying / That I don’t want to go to that side. / That I want to live, that I want my parents with me. / And my parents stayed with me. /My little sister went to the left side of the field.” -- From Kaddish - I am Here
Kaddish was commissioned by the Cohen Center for Holocaust Studies at Keene State College, Keene, NH, in honor of its 25th anniversary, and has since been performed seven times, to great acclaim, notably by the Houston Symphony Orchestra, in partnership with Holocaust Museum Houston, in the premiere of a full symphonic version. The September concert at Yad Vashem’s Warsaw Ghetto Square, is part of Yad Vashem’s ongoing activities to commemorate the Holocaust through the arts. Two years ago, Leonard Bernstein’s Kaddish with a libretto by Samuel Pisar was performed by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and smaller concerts are held periodically.
The event is open by invitation only; invitations for Holocaust survivors are available through Yad Vashem at firstname.lastname@example.org .