Defiance Requiem” - Israel Festival 2012 Personal Impressions
Gabi Elad - Alter (June 2012)
Verdi’s Requiem was performed at the end of May, in the framework of the Israel Festival. Murry Sidlin,
musician and dean of the Catholic University in Oregon,
decided to perform Verdi’s “Requiem” all over the world. The requiem that was played in the Theresienstadt camp on a piano and sung by a choir whose vocalists were being replaced all the time because of transports to the East. A defiant requiem. As part of Sidlin’s project, while the work is being played, survivor’s testimonies are heard, fragments of films shot in the ghetto are screened and Sidlin himself, Yona Elian
and Sasson Gabai
recite relevant texts. The work concluded with “Osse shalom bimromav” while the orchestra players leave slowly their places and only one violin player remains on stage. I can speak only for myself and for those around me - no eye remained dry.
At the end, according to Sidlin’s wish, the audience left without applauding.
Sidlin succeeded to combine, in my opinion, the music with the recitation and testimonies in a way that made me think that this is one of the most touching Holocaust “experiences” that I, a member of the second generation, experienced. I found myself watching all the film fragments from that era, trying to identify members of my family or places (known to me from stories and visits in the camp with my mother), listening to each word said, both in the recitations and by the survivors. I cannot call the event a one-time happening because the word happening has a positive connotation and I do not see and this is an understatement, any positive side in this horrible subject. An extraordinary event, touching, teaching and envisioning, the dimensions of the catastrophe!
On the way out, calming down from the excitement, we hear reactions, similar to ours from people we know, I stop by G., a good friend of my late mother who was among the members of the Terezin choir, then, in those days, and since then her whole life was music; “Nu, what do you say?” I ask. G. looked at me for a moment and said: “Here it is not America ...” she said and entered the elevator that took her to the parking area. I needed a few minutes to gather my wits ...
This is the place to thank Yoel Peer
the owner of the ticket office “Bimot” in Jerusalem, who donated 15 tickets immediately when he understood that Beit Terezin needs more tickets because the number of orders is greater than the tickets set aside for veteran citizens by the office
Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín
“We Will Sing to the Nazis What We Cannot Say to Them”
Created and Conducted by Murry Sidlin
Performed at the Israel Festival
Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 8:00 pm
Congress Hall, Binyanei Ha’ooma
The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and the Kühn Choir of Prague
Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín tells the story of courageous Jewish prisoners in the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp during World War II who formed a chorus under the leadership of fellow prisoner Rafael Schächter, and performed Verdi’s Requiem 16 times, as an act of defiance and resistance to their Nazi captors.
The concert/drama features a full performance of the Verdi with video testimony from surviving members of the choir, actors embedded in the orchestra, and original Nazi propaganda film footage made at Theresienstadt. The performance is powerful, dramatic and inspirational,with a contemporary message of hope. It has received wide critical acclaim, and has been performed from the Czech Republic and Budapest to the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, IBA
The Kuhn Choir (Czech Republic)
Ira Bertman (soprano)
Yotam Cohen (tenor)
Assaf Levitin (bass-baritone)
Bracha Kol (mezzo-soprano)
: Sasson Gabai
Duration of concert: Two hours, without intermission