Event To Honor Victims Of Babi Yar Massacre

NEW YORK, NY -- Russian icon Yevgeny Yevtushenko will mark the 65th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre when he headlines a program of music and poetry commemorating the ghastly event in Kiev that killed 100,000 Jews, gypsies and other civilians.

Yevgeny Yevtushenko

The dissident poet will read his passionate "Babi Yar" poem, which was suppressed for 23 years by the Soviet Union, to highlight a Holocaust program and concert Sept. 27 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan.

The program also will feature a world premiere by pianists Misha and Cipa Dichter of the first movement of Dmitri Shostakovich's never-published, two-piano version of his Symphony No. 13, which is based on the Yevtushenko poem.

The Dichters will be joined in the performance by Bulgarian bass Valentin Peytchinov and a men's chorus conducted by Patrick Gardner.

Babi Yar is the name of a vast ravine in northwestern Kiev. Nazis rounded up tens of thousands on Sept. 29 and 30, 1941, and systematically murdered them at Babi Yar in retaliation for bombs aimed at invading German soldiers.

The victims included Jews, Soviet prisoners of war, gypsies, underground fighters and others from Kiev and the surrounding Ukraine area.

The mass murder, immortalized in the poetry of Yevtushenko and the music of Shostakovich, claimed 100,000 lives.

Yevtushenko, 73, was one of the politically active authors during the Khrushchev Thaw. In 1961, he composed "Babi Yar," in which he attacked Soviet indifference to the Nazi massacre in Kiev.

The poem was circulated privately for years because Soviet policy regarding the Holocaust was to present it in general terms as an atrocity against Soviet citizens.

The poem was finally published in the state-controlled Soviet press in 1984. Yevtushenko now teaches Russian and European poetry and film at the University of Tulsa.

The Living Memorial to the Holocaust presentation of "Babi Yar Remembered: Yevtushenko and Shostakovich in Word and Song" will begin at 7 p.m. in the Edmond J. Safra Hall.

Other works on the program are Concertino for Two Pianos, which Shostakovich wrote for himself and his son Maxim, performed by the Dichters, and Shostakovich's Monologue on a text of Pushkin, Op. 91, No. 1, featuring Peytchinov and Misha Dichter.

Yevtushenko will read several additional poems, including his poignant "The Loss."

Ivy Barsky, the Museum of Jewish Heritage's Deputy Director for Programs, called the Sept. 27 program "a meaningful commemoration, a glorious artistic happening, and a memorable shared experience."

He describes the concert as "a powerful confluence of expressions: Yevtushenko's recitation of his stirring poem, the world premiere of Shostakovich's piece performed by a pair of virtuosic New York pianists - one of whom is the child of Holocaust survivors - presented at New York's most important cultural institution dedicated to Jewish history and Holocaust memory."

Source: NY Daily News