Defiant Requiem: Asheville
Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín
Murry Sidlin, creator & conductor
Callan White & Kelley Hinman, actors
Jennifer Check, soprano
Ann McMahon Quintero, mezzo-soprano
Bruce Sledge, tenor
Jongmin Park, bass
Voices of Terezín Remembrance
Erin Freeman, director
Allison Thorp, assistant director
Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín, a unique and profoundly moving multimedia concert-drama, commemorates the remarkable story of the courageous Jewish prisoners in the Theresienstadt (Terezín) Concentration Camp who performed the Verdi Requiem while experiencing the depths of human degradation. With only a single smuggled score they performed the celebrated oratorio sixteen times, including one performance before an International Red Cross delegation and senior SS officials from Berlin. Conductor Rafael Schächter told the choir, “We will sing to the Nazis what we cannot say to them.”
As time passes, there is a tendency to relegate tragedies such as the Holocaust to the distant past, diminishing their relevance to today’s world. Bringing Defiant Requiem to Asheville will help to preserve the memory of the Holocaust; more importantly, it will demonstrate how resistance to oppression is possible even in the most trying circumstances, and how hope and inspiration can be found through the arts and humanities.
With the powerful story of the prisoners in Terezín as catalyst, this performance will serve to foster conversations, for young people especially, around how all oppressions are linked, and how we can work together to create a culture of respect and inclusion by combating anti-Semitism and all other forms of ethnic, religious, gender, and racial hatred and oppression.
Defiant Requiem offers an opportunity to bring these issues before the wider community of Western North Carolina and to stimulate thoughtful discussion and educational opportunities for all ages. Music is a perfect vehicle to move beyond words and feel the essence of suffering and defiance.
Carolina Jews for Justice (CJJ) became involved in the efforts to bring Defiant Requiem to Asheville because the project aligns with CJJ’s mission, which includes an educational emphasis on creating a community of justice for all and eliminating traces of all the ‘isms’ found in our culture.
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