Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín, a concert-drama created by Murry Sidlin (BM ’62, Music Education; MM ’68, Instrumental Conducting) that has been presented three times at Terezín, the former Nazi concentration camp near Prague known as Teresienstadt, will be performed at Peabody on Tuesday, April 23, and Wednesday, April 24.
Commemorating performances of the Verdi Requiem at the camp by Jewish prisoners, Defiant Requiem tells a tragic but uplifting story of art in the midst of degradation. Live narration and film clips are added to a complete performance of the Verdi work, in this case by the Peabody Symphony Orchestra, the Peabody-Hopkins Chorus, and the Peabody Singers, conducted by Sidlin with faculty artist Herbert Greenberg as guest concertmaster.
“They only had an out-of-tune piano with one leg missing,” explains Sidlin, president and founder, in 2008, of the Defiant Requiem Foundation, which has partnered with Peabody to bring the work to Baltimore. The chorus of prisoners, which had to be reorganized after members were transported to the Auschwitz death camp, was taught the Latin text by rote from a smuggled piano score.
Rheda Becker, a member of the foundation’s board of directors who frequently narrates for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, will play the role of The Lecturer in the Peabody performances. The soloists, selected by Director of Choral Activities Edward Polochick in consultation with Voice Department faculty members, will be Tammie Woods, soprano; Tia Price, alto; Joshua Diaz, tenor; and Jeffrey Martin, bass.
Defiant Requiem has been presented at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and in Atlanta, Buffalo, Houston, and other cities. Last July, it was presented at the Berkshire Choral Festival in Massachusetts, where Conservatory faculty member Richard Giarusso taught and sang in the chorus. “What I found especially powerful was the experience of hearing this canonic piece… through this very specific historical and cultural lens,” says Giarusso, a member of the Musicology Department.
Just a week after the Peabody performances, on Monday, April 29, Defiant Requiem will be presented in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, with all proceeds going to the UJA-Federation of NY Community Initiative for Holocaust Survivors and Selfhelp Community Services to provide medical, social, and financial services to Holocaust survivors living in the New York metropolitan area.
For tickets to the Peabody performances, April 23 and 24 at 8:00 pm in Peabody’s Miriam A. Friedberg Concert Hall, call the Peabody Box Office at 410-234-4800. For information about VIP tickets to the April 23 performance, call 410-234-4674.