April 8 & 10, 2016
The concert-drama, Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín, tells the story of the courageous Jewish prisoners in the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp during World War II who performed the famous Verdi Requiem Mass while experiencing the depths of human degradation. With only a smuggled score, they performed the famous oratorio sixteen times, including one performance before senior SS officials from Berlin and a Red Cross delegation. Conductor Rafael Schächter told the choir, “We will sing to the Nazis what we cannot say to them.”
The concert was conceived and created by Foundation President, Maestro Murry Sidlin. The concert combines the magnificent music of Verdi with testimony from survivors of the original chorus and footage from a Nazi propaganda film on Theresienstadt. The performance also includes actors who speak the words of imprisoned conductor Rafael Schächter and other prisoners. This is not just another performance of the Verdi Requiem, but a tribute to the inspired leadership of Rafael Schächter who was forced to reconstitute the choir three times as members were transported to Auschwitz. The performances came to symbolize resistance and defiance and answering the worst of mankind with the best of mankind. The performance is powerful, dramatic and inspirational, with a contemporary message of hope.
The story of Terezín unfolds between each section of the Verdi score. The final concert/drama, running two hours without intermission, explains why the performances in 1943 and 1944 provided a beacon of hope for the prisoner choir and its audience.
Following a 2010 performance at the Kennedy Center, Washington Post reviewer Stephen Brooks wrote, “Murry Sidlin’s setting of the music, incorporating film of the camp, interviews with survivors, and actors describing the dramatic background, was handled with both dignity and power, and pushed the requiem to even more harrowing depths and exalting heights.”
Click here to download the flyer
About The Defiant Requiem Foundation
The Defiant Requiem Foundation is a non-profit organization founded in 2008 by Murry Sidlin, distinguished conductor, educator and artistic innovator. Maestro Sidlin’s passion and commitment to honoring the prisoners in Terezín and their inspired artistic endeavors, serve as the framework for The Defiant Requiem Foundation. Maestro Sidlin initially learned of this story by happenstance in a book about music of the Holocaust. Intrigued by the story and the nagging question of why a group of Jewish prisoners would learn and sing the Verdi Requiem (a Catholic Mass), Maestro Sidlin personally undertook to research the story and find any surviving members of the chorus. Through outreach on the internet and a bit of luck, Maestro Sidlin identified Edgar Krasa, a survivor living in the Boston area who turned out to be the Terezín room-mate of Conductor Rafael Schächter and a member of the chorus. Edgar Krasa led Maestro Sidlin to several other surviving members of the chorus who all told the same story of finding courage and survival through the singing of the Verdi Requiem. Maestro Sidlin’s passion and commitment to honoring these survivors, and all victims of Terezín, led to the creation of The Defiant Requiem Foundation and its four core components: The concert, Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín; the film Defiant Requiem; the Rafael Schächter Institute for Arts and Humanities at Terezín; and educational lesson plans for students and teachers hosted on the Foundation’s website.
Defiant Requiem Foundation: www.defiantrequiem.org
PBS promotion for the film Defiant Requiem: Voices of Resistance: http://www.pbs.org/program/defiant-requiem-voices-resistance/
Anchorage Concert Chorus: www.anchorageconcertchorus.org; phone: 274-7464; firstname.lastname@example.org
Participate in planning community activities/forums: April Wilson email@example.com