Defiant Requiem: A Story of Terezin

Santa Fe and Albuquerque: The Santa Fe Jewish Film Festival announces the New Mexico Theatrical Premiere – and the first film for the new Santa Fe Jewish Film Festival season.

Santa Fe Jewish Film Festival 

Defiant Requiem

The Screen Santa Fe

Saturday October 12 ~ 7:00 pm 

Tickets: $15 Adults; $12 Students; $20 Door.

The story of Terezín (aka Theresienstadt), the Requiem, and of Conductor Murry Sidlin’s return to conduct a memorial concert is eloquently told in director Doug Shultz’s powerful new documentary Defiant Requiem.

One of the most complex and demanding of chorale works, Verdi’s 1874 work was originally intended as a musical rendition of the Catholic funeral mass.

Rafael Schächter took Verdi’s music and transformed it into a universal statement, one proclaiming the prisoners’ unbroken spirit and warning of God’s coming wrath against their Nazi captors.

The Santa Fe theatrical premiere also marks Verdi’s bi-centennial. Verdi was born on October 10, 1813.

In Albuquerque, Defiant Requiem will be presented on Sunday October 13 at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

Special Film Presentation

Defiant Requiem

National Hispanic Cultural Center

Sunday October 13 ~ 3:00 pm 

Tickets: $15 Adults.
$25 includes reception with Maestro Murry Sidlin.

Click here to purchase.

Defiant Requiem is a little-known footnote in the history of choral music, at first surreal, but soon inspiring humility and awe: In late 1943, a chorus of 150 Jews imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp engaged in 16 performances of Verdi’s Requiem – learned by rote from a single vocal score and accompanied by a legless upright piano – before audiences of other prisoners, SS officers, and German army staff members. Their purpose: to sing to their captors words that could not be spoken.

Thus begins an extraordinary saga that touches on politics, power, and the manner in which a timeless choral work provided people at the nadir of human existence with a soaring sense of hope and meaning that according to them could have been found in no other endeavor.

At the center of this series of performances was the Jewish conductor Rafael Schächter, hailed before his internment as a conductor of exceptional skill, and possessed of a persuasive and charismatic nature. His story is both powerful and poignant: During his confinement he worked tirelessly to bring inspiration and meaning to the lives of his fellow inmates – yet ultimately fell victim to the death march of the Third Reich.

The exceptional story of Schächter and the performances of the Verdi Requiem came to the attention of conductor Murry Sidlin, currently Dean of the School of Music at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and resident artist/teacher and associate director of conducting studies at the Aspen Music Festival, in the late 1990s.

The achievements of Schächter and the chorus in the midst of monumental suffering, disease, and death had a powerful effect on Sidlin, and following considerable research he conceived of a concert drama to tell their noble story – the title of this singular work is Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín.