IN THIS ISSUE:
A message from the President and Founder, Murry Sidlin
It’s hard to believe that our first performance of Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín was more than 14 years ago in April 2002, and the interest in presenting this unique and important concert-drama continues to increase. The coming concert season, from September 2016 through June 2017, will be our most active to date. We will present eight performances over those months in Vienna, Austria; Durham, UK; Chicago; the University of North Carolina; three performances in Detroit; and the University of Washington in Seattle.
Our performances in Detroit mark the first time we will be presented on the “subscription series” of a major symphony orchestra. Most performances will also feature a screening of our documentary film, and/or a variety of lectures, discussions or exhibits.
Our recent performances in Anchorage, Alaska are a great example. In addition to the two performances of Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín presented as a partnership between the Anchorage Concert Chorus and the University of Alaska, Anchorage, the film was shown at a popular local movie house before a sold-out audience. I also participated in a roundtable discussion hosted by the World Affairs Council of Alaska to explore the Terezín paradigm, namely, what are the lessons of Terezín that have contemporary applications to current episodes of genocide? As an interesting aside, when I was introduced to the mayor of Anchorage, Ethan Berkowitz, I asked him if I might offer him a brief background of Terezín. He said it wasn’t necessary, as Terezín was family history to him. His great aunt survived Terezín, and through her, he was rather well acquainted with the subject! I am always amazed by these coincidences, and the people I meet during my travels who have a personal connection to Terezín. While in Anchorage, I also presented a conducting master class to the music students.
We have officially added a new concert-drama to our repertoire that extends the understanding of music at Terezín by exploring the “new music studio” developed by approximately 20 prisoner-composers. We presented the new event entitled Hours of Freedom: The Story of the Terezín Composer in May in New York and in June in Jerusalem as a part of the Israel Festival. Both performances were very well received and offer a powerful addition to our repertoire and mission.
Hours of Freedom (which is a quote taken from Rabbi Leo Baeck) tells the stories of 15 composers imprisoned in Terezín divided into nine chapters: Longing, Hope, The Messenger, Fate, The Eyewitness, Pure Entertainment, The Broken Heart, Censorship, and In Memoriam. That’s nine chapters, 18 compositions and 15 composers presented by 13 instrumentalists, four singers, and one narrator, plus myself, all within an hour and 40 minutes. We look forward to giving many presentations of Hours of Freedom, and this new concert-drama makes it possible to return to cities and campuses where we have already presented Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín.
On the “drawing board” currently is a dramatic presentation that can be read aloud by 12 high school or college students about the debate by members of the Terezín Council of Jewish Elders and their objections to presenting Verdi’s Requiem at Terezín, entitled Mass Appeal, 1943. Can you see what is coming? Sometime in the future, we hope to present five evenings of events that comprise Terezín Remembered, with a performance of Defiant Requiem; a screening of our documentary film; a performance of Hours of Freedom: The Story of the Terezín Composer; a production of the new drama Mass Appeal, 1943; and a major roundtable discussion on The Terezín Paradigm. Watch this space.