A message from the president
A few weeks ago, we performed Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín in Berlin under the auspices of the Jewish Museum Berlin.
The performance was powerful, with a superb orchestra, brilliant chorus, extraordinary vocal soloists, and two of Germany’s most famous actors, Iris Berben and Ulrich Matthes. The full house at the Konzerthaus was rapt as this critical story unfolded within the fabric of the Verdi Requiem. It was an unforgettable moment when I was able to recite on that stage to a German audience, “Never did the prisoners ask, ‘Where was God?’ But through this music, they were able to ask, ‘Where was Man? … Where was Man?’”
I recall the same moment when we performed the concert-drama in Jerusalem, and there was a quiet hum in the audience in agreement with, and underscoring, this question. But in Berlin, it was deathly quiet as guests individually digested this unanswerable question. It was an extraordinary moment.
The staffs of the orchestra, choir and the Jewish Museum were magnificent in assisting us to pull together the many pieces of this performance puzzle. Upcoming performances include the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, Maryland, on May 1, The University of New Mexico on May 8 and about six performances over the next concert year, including a return to Budapest and New York’s Lincoln Center, and a first-time performance with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.
From June 8-12, 2014, The Foundation will present five evenings of events that are designed to replicate the artistic activities experienced by the prisoners at Terezín during their darkest hours. We organize these events under the arch of The Rafael Schächter Institute for Arts and Humanities, named after the gifted pianist and conductor of the Verdi Requiem in Terezín in 1943-1944. For the past several summers, we presented these events on the grounds at Terezín, along with a few events in Prague. This summer, and for alternate summers going forward, we will present the Schächter Institute in the U.S. in an academic setting. This June, the Institute will be housed at American University in Washington, D.C. A schedule of activities is posted in this newsletter.
Our documentary film continues to attract international attention. It will be seen again in Israel at the end of April and also in late May, and has recently been seen in multiple screenings on BBC4 throughout the U.K. and in Holland, Switzerland, and other Western European nations. Over the summer, it will be screened at the national convention of the American Library Association in Las Vegas, and later in connection with a Terezín conference in Leeds, U.K.
We always remember Fran Eizenstat and her inspiring presence, her enthusiasm and encouragement for our work and new performances. And now, there is more sadness and pain that won’t easily subside. We just said farewell to our dear friend and colleague Amy Antonelli after a yearlong courageous battle with cancer. She was sunshine and imagination, and a major force behind all things Defiant Requiem. Shalom, dear Amy.