December 10, 2023

After four years, the oratorio Emigre made its debut in Shanghai, commemorating the city’s role in protecting European Jewish refugees during the late 1930s. The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, and choirs from the US and China collaborated on the 90-minute work, which premiered on November 17. Composer Aaron Zigman, known for his movie scores, was inspired by the idea from Shanghai Symphony Orchestra’s maestro Long Yu to create a multicultural love story about Jewish refugees in Shanghai. Shanghai was one of the few places open to Jewish refugees at the time, with an estimated 20,000 European Jews finding refuge there, despite the city being occupied by Japanese forces. The oratorio’s librettist, Mark Campbell, believed the message of accepting refugees was especially resonant in the current global conflicts. The premiere was held in Shanghai and is set to be performed in New York next year.