Remembering the Holocaust
April 10, 2019
As the Center for Public Policy continues to collaborate with other organizations to present programs pertaining to civic literacy, civility and history, its Director, Dr. Jo Ellen Chatham arranged for a unique program for the Orange County Forum, featuring noted conductor and educator Maestro Murry Sidlin. In the mid-1990s, Sidlin happened to come across the brief story of a man named Rafeal Schachter, a Romanian pianist, vocal coach and conductor before being imprisoned in the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp (Terezin) during World War II. With only a single smuggled copy of Verdi’s “Requiem,” Schachter taught it, one by one, to courageous Jews who performed it in the camp sixteen times, including one performance before senior SS officials from Berlin and the International Red Cross. Noting that a requiem is a song for the dead, Schachter told his choir of concentration inmates, “We will sing to the Nazis what we cannot say to them.”
Moved by the story, Maestro Sidlin embarked on a quest for the world to remember the men, women and children of Terezin and composed “Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin,” a compelling concert-drama combining the music of Verdi with video testimony from survivors of the original Terezin chorus and footage from the 1944 Nazi propaganda film about Theresienstadt.
When the Pacific Symphony added “Defiant Requiem” to its seasonal program with Maestro Sidlin conducting, Dr. Chatham arranged for a unique and personal conversation with Sidlin and the Pacific Symphony’s President, John Forsyte.
Maestro Sidlin’s interview can be viewed at OC Forum | Videos. Click here learn more about “Defiant Requiem” the film documenting its history,