Greeting from Murry Sidlin, President and Creative Director
The mission of our Foundation to illuminate the legacy of Terezín continues with strength and rejuvenated commitment. This past spring we presented concert performances 41 and 42 of Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín, a series that began in April 2002, before there was a Foundation or any formal organization. Altogether over this concert year, we performed Defiant Requiem 9 times, one performance of Hours of Freedom (performed in Terezín), and the creation of a play about Terezín entitled Mass Appeal, 1943. (See separate article.)
Our 2017 series began in January at the historic Durham Cathedral founded in 1093 in the UK, and as the Dean of the Cathedral movingly noted prior to the start of the concert, the Cathedral began as a place of refuge, and remains so to this day.
The performance at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, (Board Chair Stu Eizenstat’s alma mater), was thrilling. The 90-member student orchestra and 150- member student choir were comprised of very talented young musicians prepared and inspired by dedicated and gifted conductor-partners Professors Tonu Kalem and Susan Klebenow.
In March, we performed in Chicago in partnership with the Jewish United Fund of Chicago. Kudos to JUF President Steve Nasatir and his colleague Rachel Sternberg who raised over $4.6 million using the Defiant Requiem concert as its annual event. The Foundation was honored to work with such an impressive organization. We received excellent press both before and after the concert – both articles can be found on our website here.
For the first time we were invited by a major American symphony orchestra to appear on their subscription series. Leonard Slatkin, who saw a performance of Defiant Requiem several years ago at the University of Houston, vowed at the time that somewhere, somehow, he would present us, and he was true to his word. He generously opened the podium and stage of his magnificent Detroit Symphony, and we gave three performances in early May to three full houses.
The University of Washington School of Music invited us to come in early June and provided its student orchestra and chorus along with wonderful local soloists, to give a performance on their Seattle campus and the next night at the Tacoma Armory. The quality of performance was wonderful, the excitement of the students radiated to both full houses.
Our new concert drama Hours of Freedom: The Story of the Terezín Composer was presented at Terezín in mid-May. This chamber music concert showcases 15 composers who wrote music while imprisoned in Terezín, many of whom were ultimately murdered before the age of 40. To recreate these compositions in the location where they were originally created was humbling and powerful. It was a privilege to honor these gifted and worthy artist-victims of the Holocaust.
A final word about Hours of Freedom: Composing music in a concentration camp may seem on the surface to be unnecessary and irrational; however, artistic expression gave them hope that there would be a future, so it was necessary and rational.
The performances at the University of North Carolina, the University of Washington, and at the Durham Cathedral were made possible by a grant from our University Residency Fund, supported by Gretchen Brooks, whose generosity made many other previously sited school performances possible.
The University Residency Project is a major focus of the Foundation. The fund supports our efforts to bring our performances, film and supplementary lectures to college campuses highlighting student performers. Your support would be greatly appreciated.
Warm wishes for what I hope is a summer filled with relaxation and vacation time with family and friends. Thank you for your interest in the work of The Defiant Requiem Foundation.