June 3, 2013

Murry Sidlin

Murry Sidlin, professor of conducting and Holocaust music studies at Catholic University's Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, will perform his concert-drama "Defiant Requiem," in Prague on June 6.

The performance will take place at St. Vitus Cathedral at the invitation of Cardinal Dominik Duka O.P., archbishop of Prague.

"Defiant Requiem" illuminates the Terezin legacy of World War II. Terezin was a Nazi concentration camp that contained a large population of artists and musicians including conductor Rafael Schächter, a leader of the prisoner community. Schächter inspired the Jewish inmates by organizing performances of opera, children's opera, chamber music, and cabaret, including a grand chorus to which he taught composer Giuseppe Verdi's monumental "Requiem Mass" by rote. The chorus performed the work 16 times.

"This performance is the fulfillment of the dream of the conductor of the 1943-1944 Terezin performances of Verdi's Requiem, Rafael Schächter, who told his chorus many times, 'All of our work here is but a rehearsal for when we will sing the Verdi Requiem in Prague, with a grand orchestra, in a beautiful setting, but in freedom,'" said Sidlin.

Sidlin added that Cardinal Duka, who suffered imprisonment under the Communists, extended the invitation to bring "Defiant Requiem" to Prague, "and especially to his cathedral, which was the site of the Velvet Revolution, inspired by his prison-mate and former president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel."

Sidlin has performed "Defiant Requiem" three times on the grounds of Terezin, as well as at concert venues throughout the United States, including Washington's John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as a guest of the Jewish community in Budapest, Hungary, and at the Israel Festival in Jerusalem. He recently presented the concert-drama to sell-out audiences at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore and at New York's Lincoln Center.

His documentary film about Rafael Schächter, "Defiant Requiem, Voices of Resistance," made with Partisan Pictures of New York, was finished last May, and has been shown at film festivals at Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Vancouver, and many cities in the United States, including New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. The award-winning film has been shown on PBS stations around the United States this spring and will soon be seen on the BBC network.

Sidlin is the founder and president of the Defiant Requiem Foundation, which is dedicated to the illumination of the Terezin legacy. He also directs the Rafael Schächter Institute of Arts and Humanities at Terezin, which each summer commemorates and replicates events similar to those experienced by the Terezin prisoners, on the grounds of the former concentration camp. These events recall the nearly 1,000 concerts, 2,400 lectures, and numerous drama presentations held there between 1941 and 1945.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center will present its Medal of Valor to Sidlin at the center's National Tribute Dinner on June 12 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

For more information on Sidlin and the music school, please visit music.cua.edu. Media should contact Mary McCarthy Hines at 202-319-5600, or email cua-public-affairs@cua.edu .

For a video of the May 2010 performance of the "Defiant Requiem" in Budapest, visit http://music.cua.edu/archive/concert/defiant-requiem.cfm .