An Intimate Prelude to A Concert for Sugihara

An Intimate Prelude to A Concert for Sugihara
Tuesday, March 14, 6-8:30 pm

Doors open: 6 pm
Performance: 6:30-7:30 pm
Reception: 7:30-8:30 pm

This event is sold out.

Japan Society and American Society for Yad Vashem (ASYV) invite you to join us for an intimate event featuring cello virtuoso Kristina Reiko Cooper, who conceptualized A Concert for Sugihara to commemorate the life of Chiune Sugihara, the “Schindler of Japan,” premiering in the U.S. at Carnegie Hall on April 19, accompanied by Zac Zinger on the shakuhachi. Followed by a wine reception with light bites.

Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese consul in Lithuania in 1939, rose above the madness of World War II and the Holocaust by risking his life and career to save approximately 6,000 Jews fleeing Europe and the Nazi regime. Via Russia/Soviet Union on the Trans-Siberian railway, the refugees reached Vladivostok and then went on to Japan and China. Out of the many refugees saved by Sugihara, there are now approximately 40,000 descendants.

I just did what we as human beings should do. One of my best teachers, in Harbin, once told me: You do the right thing because it is the right thing. Not for gain. Not for recognition. Just because it is the right thing. The refugees were people who needed my help. I could give help to them. It was the right thing to do. That’s all. —Chiune Sugihara

The commission of a symphony was the realization of cellist Kristina Reiko Cooper’s idea to honor Chiune Sugihara’s heroism. Her husband's father, Irving Rosen, was among those rescued thanks to the visas issued by Sugihara while serving as Japanese Vice-Consul to Lithuania during World War II. Performing as a soloist and chamber musician on many of the world’s most distinguished stages, Juilliard-trained cello virtuoso Kristina Reiko Cooper has won worldwide acclaim for her musical diversity, artistry, and charismatic stage presence. “I was inspired to recognize this courageous man the only way I know how, through the transcendence of music,” writes Kristina Reiko Cooper. “As a Japanese American, “I understand how deeply Chiune Sugihara would have had to draw from within himself to defy his superiors in a culture where this would go against every social mores that culture encapsulates: on the one hand, it was an outstanding act of courage; on the other, in the ways of the Samurai Warrior Bushido code, it was also the simplest act in the world—to just do what is right.”

Zalmen Mlotek, the Artistic Director of the National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene whose father was saved by Sugihara, will share his family’s story.

With the cooperation of the K3 Council, whose objective is to explore synergistic potential between the U.S., Japan and Israel in strategic fields. Please click here for more information.

About A Concert for Sugihara
The concert series’ world premiere took place in Kaunas, Lithuania, on November 5, 2022, with Kristina Reiko Cooper, the Kaunas State Choir and the Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra, conducted by music director Constantine Orbelian. Lera Auerbach created the music, libretto, and artistic concept for Symphony No. 6, “Vessels of Light,” for Violoncello, Choir, and Orchestra. The series will debut in the United State on April 19th at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Kristina Reiko Cooper has been hailed by The New York Times as “sensational in concert” and as a “striking virtuoso” by the Los Angeles Times, with solo and chamber music performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Suntory Hall of Tokyo, and Radio France in Paris, among other notable venues. Concerto appearances include the Prague Chamber Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, and Israel Chamber Orchestra, and tours with the Tokyo Yomiuri Orchestra and Shanghai Symphony. She received her Bachelor, Master, and Doctor of Musical Arts from The Juilliard School, and currently serves as visiting professor at Tel Aviv University, Israel. Kristina Reiko Cooper is the granddaughter of the esteemed composer Tomojiro Ikenouchi and the great-granddaughter of the great haiku poet Kyoshi Takahama.

Zalmen Mlotek is an internationally acclaimed conductor and accompanist whose musical prowess encompasses the Yiddish folk and theater worlds. As Artistic Director of the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, he brought the award-winning Fidler Afn Dakh (Fiddler on the Roof) to New York. At this theater, the nation’s only professional Yiddish theater, he has helped to revive Yiddish classics, bring leading creative artists to the Yiddish stage, and instituted English subtitles. Mlotek received his training as a classical pianist and conductor at the Juilliard School of Music, the New England Conservatory of Music, the Tanglewood Music Center, the Manhattan School of Music, and the Mannes School of Music. Among his most notable teachers and mentors was Leonard Bernstein.

Zac Zinger is an award-winning composer, arranger, orchestrator, and multi-instrumentalist with years of experience in a wide variety of mediums. His innovative technique and style on the shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute), as well as the unique multicultural blend of his compositions have garnered critical acclaim at home and abroad.

Japan Society programs are made possible by leadership support from Booth Ferris Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.