“Defiant Requiem” Concert Finds Light Admidst the Horrors of Nazi Concentration Camps

This is an excerpt of an article by Paul Hodgins, for Voice of OC. You can find the full article on their website here.


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[Murray Sidlin], who is in town to perform a work that uniquely honors victims of the Holocaust, said he’s saddened that anti-Semitism is becoming a regular headline in his native country. The Pittsburgh synagogue massacre last October was a turning point, Sidlin thinks.

“Does (this new round of anti-Semitism) surprise me? Yes it does. Prior to a couple of years ago, according to the Anti-Defamation League and the State Department, the U.S. had the lowest rate of anti-Semitic behavior in the world – not non-existent, but hardly newsworthy or threatening. Now that’s all changed.”

Sidlin is in Orange County to present “Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín” with the Pacific Symphony on April 16. Created by Sidlin, “Defiant Requiem” tells an amazing story about a group of Jewish prisoners in the Terezín Concentration Camp, located about 30 miles north of Prague during World War II, who performed Verdi’s huge and challenging Requiem Mass under unimaginably trying circumstances.

Murry Sidlin Headshot 2 (Photo credit - Joseph LeBlanc)

Murry Sidlin, “Defiant Requiem” conductor

Sidlin’s multi-media work combines Verdi’s choral masterpiece with live actors, video testimony from survivors, film footage from Terezín and interviews with original chorus members. “Defiant Requiem” recounts how and why these Jewish prisoners chose to learn and perform the Verdi Requiem during their darkest hours, using only a single smuggled score. They sang it 16 times; one performance was attended by senior SS officials from Berlin and an International Red Cross delegation. Conductor Rafael Schächter told the choir, “We will sing to the Nazis what we cannot say to them.”


If you’d like to learn more about this concert, please visit our website here.

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