President and Creative Director
Murry Sidlin, a conductor with a unique gift for engaging audiences, continues a diverse and distinctive musical career. He is the president and creative director of The Defiant Requiem Foundation, an organization that sponsors live concert performances of Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín and Hours of Freedom: The Story of the Terezín Composer; as well as other projects including the documentary film, Defiant Requiem; a new docudrama called Mass Appeal, 1943, which was premiered in June 2017; and The Rafael Schächter Institute for Arts and Humanities at Terezín. In addition, he lectures extensively on the arts and humanities as practiced by the prisoners in the Theresienstadt (Terezín) Concentration Camp.
Mr. Sidlin began his career as assistant conductor of the Baltimore Symphony under Sergiu Comissiona and then was appointed resident conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra by Antal Doráti. He has served as music director of the New Haven and Long Beach (California) Symphonies, the Tulsa Philharmonic, and the Connecticut Ballet. For eight years he was resident conductor of the Oregon Symphony and, from 2002 to 2010, he served as Dean of the School of Music at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. Murry Sidlin was principal guest conductor of the Gävleborgs Symfoniorkester in Sweden and was artistic director of the Cascade Festival of Music in Bend, Oregon for twelve summers. He has conducted more than 300 concerts with the San Diego Symphony, and, on December 31, 2011, conducted his 18th consecutive New Year’s Eve Gala at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC with the National Symphony Orchestra. The summer of 2011 marked Mr. Sidlin’s 33rd year as resident artist/teacher and associate director of conducting studies at the Aspen Music Festival where, with conductor David Zinman, he developed the American Academy of Conducting. Murry Sidlin has also appeared as guest conductor around the world. In the U.S. he has conducted the Atlanta, New Mexico, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Seattle, and St. Louis Symphony Orchestras; the Colorado, Honolulu, Houston, San Antonio, San Francisco, and Utah Symphonies; the Florida and Minnesota Orchestras; the Chicago Philharmonic; and the Boston Pops. In Canada he has led orchestras in Edmonton, Quebec, Vancouver, and Victoria. Foreign orchestras Murry Sidlin has worked with include the Czech National, Iceland, Jerusalem, Lithuanian National, MAV (Budapest), and Spanish Radio and Television (Madrid) Symphony Orchestras; the George Enescu Philharmonic; the Hungarian State Opera Orchestra; I Solisti Veneti; the Konzerthaus Orchester Berlin; the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra; the Orquestra Gulbenkian (Lisbon); and the Orchester Wiener Akademie, among many others.
While with the Oregon Symphony, Murry Sidlin created the nationally recognized Nerve Endings series. This series featured innovative concerts designed to attract and engage new audiences and expand the traditional role of the symphony orchestra. Each program was designed, written, and conducted by Mr. Sidlin. Nerve Endings attracted hundreds of new subscribers each season. Among the most popular of the more than 25 creative programs were: Sigmund Freud and the Dreams of Gustav Mahler, From Lenny to Maestro, The Anatomy of the 9th, Aaron Copland’s America, Russian David/Soviet Goliath (Shostakovich vs. Stalin), Shadows and Voices: The Last Days of Tchaikovsky, and Do the Tango and Get Arrested.
In April of 2002 Murry Sidlin presented the first performances of Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín in Portland, Oregon. Since the premiere, he has led nearly fifty performances. On three occasions – in May 2006, May 2009, and June 2009 – Mr. Sidlin has led performances in the Czech town of Terezín, the site of the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp. The June 2009 performance served as the conclusion to the multi-national Holocaust Era Assets conference attended by nearly 600 delegates from 47 nations and hosted by the Czech government and the Forum 2000 Foundation. On May 9, 2010, Defiant Requiem was presented to an audience of 5,000 people in Budapest, Hungary and broadcast live on Duna Television throughout Eastern Europe. Defiant Requiem was performed in Jerusalem on May 31, 2012, with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and Kühn Choir of Prague, by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus on October 11, 2012, and at the Konzerthaus Berlin on March 4, 2014. Performances have also been given at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City, Symphony Center in Chicago, and Boston Symphony Hall, among many others. On December 3, 2017, a new version of Defiant Requiem – for chorus, soloists, single piano, and violin – was premiered at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Sidlin’s newest concert-drama, Hours of Freedom: The Story of the Terezín Composer, was premiered at the Municipal Riding School in Terezín on May 17, 2015. Hours of Freedom received its New York City premiere on May 5, 2016, and its Jerusalem premiere on June 2, 2016, as part of the Israel Festival. Showcasing music by fifteen composers imprisoned in the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp (Terezín) during World War II, this program highlights compositions by Viktor Ullmann, Gideon Klein, Zikmund Schul, Pavel Haas, Rudolf Karel, and ten others. Aware that their lives were fragile, and that deportations to the east were a constant reality, Hours of Freedom explores the need to create new music as affirmation of a future.
In 1987, Murry Sidlin collaborated with the celebrated American composer Aaron Copland to orchestrate a new chamber ensemble version of Copland’s full-length opera The Tender Land. Later, he created a suite from the opera to serve as a companion work to Copland’s chamber version of Appalachian Spring. Mr. Sidlin has performed the chamber ensemble version of The Tender Land over 200 times and has also recorded both the full-length opera and the suite for KOCH International. For the same label, he recorded Piazzolla’s tango opera Maria de Buenos Aires with the Third Angle New Music Ensemble.
Murry Sidlin studied with the legendary pedagogues Leon Barzin and Sergiu Celibidache. He was appointed by Presidents Ford and Carter to serve on the White House Commission of Presidential Scholars. He won national acclaim for the television series Music Is…, a ten-part series about music for children that was seen on PBS for five years. In 1997, the National Association of Independent Schools of Music recognized Mr. Sidlin as Educator of the Year. He has been featured on NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, and CBS Sunday Morning. Most recently he was asked to appear on CNN International to speak about Defiant Requiem. In May of 2011 Mr. Sidlin received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from his alma mater the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. The award honors alumni who have typified the Johns Hopkins tradition of excellence and brought credit to the University by their personal accomplishments, professional achievement, and humanitarian service. In September of 2011, the Archbishop of Prague presented him with the medal of St. Agnes of Bohemia for his dedication to illuminating the legacy of Terezín. In January 2013, Mr. Sidlin was nominated to the International Board of Governors of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. Murry Sidlin received the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Medal of Valor on June 11, 2013, for his extraordinary efforts to keep alive the memory of Rafael Schächter.
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Ms. Hollman joined Defiant Requiem in 2010 as the concert coordinator for the Kennedy Center performance. She began serving as the Executive Director of The Defiant Requiem Foundation in January 2011. Ms. Hollman brings a strong background in event planning and fundraising to the Foundation. She managed her own special events planning firm for 15 years, served as the Alumni Director at the Sidwell Friends School for 10 years, and began her career working in the U.S. Senate. She holds a BA, cum laude, from the University of Virginia.
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Mark B. Rulison
Program Director and General Manager
Mark Rulison is a seasoned arts administrator with over two decades of experience in concert production, artistic planning, collective bargaining, and chorus and orchestra management. He has held positions with the Boston, Chicago, and Detroit Symphony Orchestras, among others. In 2002, while on the staff of the Oregon Symphony, Mark produced the premiere performances of Murry Sidlin’s Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín. He has been directly involved in producing every performance since and joined the staff of The Defiant Requiem Foundation as its first full-time employee in 2013.
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Director of Education
Alexandra Zapruder began her career as a member of the founding staff of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. A graduate of Smith College, she served on the curatorial team for the museum’s exhibition for young visitors, Remember the Children, Daniel’s Story. She earned her Ed.M. in Education at Harvard University in 1995.
In 2002, Alexandra completed her first book, Salvaged Pages: Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaust, which was published by Yale University Press and won the National Jewish Book Award in the Holocaust category. It has since been published in Dutch and Italian. She wrote and co-produced I’m Still Here, a documentary film for young audiences based on her book, which aired on MTV in May 2005 and was nominated for two Emmy awards. In the fall of 2015, she completed a second paperback edition and a multimedia edition of Salvaged Pages and, in conjunction with Facing History and Ourselves, published related educational materials designed for middle and high school teachers.
In November 2016, she published her second book, Twenty-Six Seconds: A Personal History of the Zapruder Film, which tells the story of her grandfather’s home movie of President Kennedy’s assassination. She curated a permanent exhibition titled And Still I Write: Young Diarists on War and Genocide which opened at Holocaust Museum Houston in 2019. She sits on the Board of Directors for the Educators’ Institute for Human Rights, a nonprofit that develops partnerships with teachers in post-conflict countries to provide training in best practices on human rights, genocide prevention, and Holocaust education. She has been published in Parade, LitHub, Smithsonian Magazine, and The New York Times.
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Mr. Welch has over twenty years of experience in the accounting and consulting industry with both for-profit and non-profit businesses. He has experience in the preparation of compiled, reviewed, and audited financial statements, as well as corporate, partnership, trust, non-profit, and individual tax returns. David has extensive experience in business process and accounting systems consulting. He is a graduate of the Catholic University of America with a BA in Financial Management and Accounting. He is a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Fraud Examiner.
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Karen L. Uslin, Ph.D.
Director of Research
Karen Uslin began researching music in Terezin as an undergraduate music and theater student at Muhlenberg College (BA ’04), and continued her research at Temple University (MM ’06) and The Catholic University of America, where she received a Ph.D. in Musicology/Central & Eastern European Studies in 2015. She is also Adjunct Professor of Jewish Studies at Stockton University. Karen has presented at various national and international conferences, guest lectured at universities in the United States and Europe, and spoken at various churches and synagogues on Catholic-Jewish relations.
Previously, Karen worked as Adjunct Professor of Music History at Rowan University, Interim Development Director and Dramaturg at Cape May Stage in Cape May, NJ, and Genealogist at the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.
In addition to her research and public speaking, Karen is an active performer and vocalist. She has sung at various venues around the world, including the Vatican, the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and tours of Italy, Germany and Austria.
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Education Program Manager
Emily Natbony is a 2020 graduate of Muhlenberg College where she earned her BA in Sociology and Jewish Studies, with a concentration in Holocaust Studies. The powerful Holocaust stories of resistance, courage, and sacrifice have served as a constant source of strength for Emily, reminding her to be kind, be brave, and above all else, fight for what is right.
Previously, Emily served as an Education Intern at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City in 2019. She also currently works in the Education Department at the Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center in Glen Cove, Long Island. As a life-long believer in the power of music and the arts, Emily is honored to be bringing light to the incredible stories of artistic resistance that occurred at the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp during the Holocaust.
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Ms. Clesner joined the Foundation after working for The Fund for American Studies, a Washington, DC non-profit where she was Director of International Programs and organized summer programs in Athens, Olympia, and Prague for university students from over 70 countries. She then became Director of Donor Relations where she cultivated donors and helped fundraise for various programs. She has a BA in Political Science with minors in French and Economics from North Carolina State University in Raleigh.
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