Message from Murry Sidlin, President and Creative Director
As 2016 comes to a close, I look forward with excitement to our upcoming 2017 season. From January to June alone, we will perform Defiant Requiem eight times; Hours of Freedom in Terezín; and hold several more film screenings. It will be one of our busiest years yet.
We concluded our 2016 concert schedule this past September with a successful concert in Vienna, Austria, that is covered in more detail in Stuart Eizenstat’s letter. Now, we look forward to bringing Defiant Requiem to the UK in the historic Durham Cathedral, to Chicago, the University of North Carolina and the University of Washington in Seattle with grants from the University Residency Fund provided by Gretchen Brooks, and three performances in Detroit, with a repeat performance in Tacoma. Our newest concert-drama, Hours of Freedom, will be presented in Terezín as the final event of our synagogue tour in the Czech Republic in mid-May 2017.
Adding to our options of concerts and film screenings, the Foundation will be offering a unique, short, dramatic play that can be utilized as an in-class reading and/or a dramatic reading in-performance. Entitled Mass Appeal, 1943, it imaginatively recounts the confrontation between the Terezín Council of Jewish Elders and prisoner/conductor Rafi Schächter regarding the performances of the Verdi Requiem concert at Terezin. There isn’t a lot known about this meeting other than it took place, and that is was rather contentious. But we do know something of what Rafi Schächter said to his chorus after the meeting, and that the singers, despite the Council’s opposition to the performances, unanimously agreed to present Verdi’s Catholic Mass.
I took the artistic liberty of imagining who said what, and how the opposing positions were argued. My goal is to present these opposing positions as the Council and Schächter may have argued them. Specifically, why the Council agreed unanimously that it was dangerous to present this music, and why Schächter felt it was justified and important to perform. It would have been so easy to discard the Requiem, but I surmise that Schächter felt that the power and purpose of this music offered harmonious and spiritual significance regardless of its Catholic origins and representations. This, I feel, is probably what Schächter attempted to convince the Council.
In late December, thanks to Board Member Patti Kenner, I will attend the Limmud conference in Birmingham, UK, and will show our documentary film. I will also present a talk on some of the music that was composed in Terezín and at a third session, I will “try out” Mass Appeal by distributing character parts to be read by audience members.
I hope that soon we may be able to present a week-long series of events in a university setting or community called The Terezín Quintet, which would include the documentary film: Mass Appeal, 1943; Defiant Requiem; Hours of Freedom;and a major discussion entitled The Terezín Paradigm.
All of us at the Foundation are grateful to you for reading our news, attending our events and supporting our mission. Warm wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season and New Year.