The Defiant Requiem Foundation Explores Survival

Verdi Requirm Was Performed at Terezin

By: - Oct 13, 2023

The Defiant Requiem Foundation has a signature concert performance of the Verdi Requiem as it was performed in the Terezin concentration camp over and over again. The original chorus changed constantly as members were transferred to Auschwitz.

The organization is committed to keeping alive the memories of what happened in Europe in the first half of this century. Peter Feigl, a hundred-year-old survivor of the Holocaust, spoke at a meeting of the group in Washington. He spends his time talking to young students about his life in a small French town, Le Chambon, where, during the Second World War, he was hidden away by citizens who thought that was the right thing to do. 

Young people are moved by this story. We do not hear often today about people who are willing to risk their lives to save others. Le Chambon continues to attract asylum seekers from Syria, Ukraine and other countries across the globe. Why?

When members of the Le Chambon community were awarded bravery medals for their contributions, they appeared in an elegant Belgian venue dressed in work attire, boots and overalls. These uncommon people came from the simplest of backgrounds. 

Author Maggie Paxson (The Platueau) joined the conversation, describing her effort to portray the town and its seemingly unusual citizens. What qualities drive people to “do the right thing.” In the end, over and over, we hear the same phrase. “I thought it was what we should do.” These are Protestants and Huguenots who are also called “Quakers.” 

In honor of the traditions of the Defiant Requiem Foundation to produce music related to the Holocaust experience, Maggie Paxon sang two songs at the end of the discussion. She invited the audience to join in. The most famous song in the American songbook, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, was joined by the audience. Will the rainbow ever arc into this country, we wonder?

The distinguished diplomat and government official, Stuart E. Eizenstat, who heads the Board of the Defiant Requiem Foundation and also the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, notes that the Museum will now have as its entrance exhibit, stories of people who rose up against the Nazis, risking their own lives to help save Jews.  He wants people to think twice about what they observe around them and how they can raise a voice and a hand in protest. 

October 20 & 21 in Bismarck, ND
at Belle Mehus Auditorium,
presented by Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra

Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín

Complete live performance of Verdi's Requiem (arranged for chamber ensemble), interspersed with historic film, testimony from survivors and narration tells the moving story of courageous performances by prisoners in a WWII concentration camp.

On October 25, at the Heller Museum at Hebrew Union College in NYC and live-streamed worldwide,the Defiant Requiem Foundation presents the world premiere of they burn, the fires of the night: lamentations from the ashes by Gerald Cohen.

Song cycle is a setting of texts from Poems Born in Bergen-Belsen by Menachem Z. Rosensaft

Featured performers: Mezzo soprano Leah Wool and baritone David Kravitz.