Falmouth Jewish Congregation will hold a service to mark Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, followed by a free screening of the film Defiant Requiem.
The public is welcome to all or any part of the evening’s program. The service will begin at 7:00 P.M. and the film will start at approximately 7:40 P.M.
Both service and film will take place in the Blanche & Joel D. Seifer Community Center at 7 Hatchville Road.
Defiant Requiem tells the little-known chapter of resistance that transpired at the Nazi concentration camp Terezin (Theresienstadt), where Jewish inmates fought their oppressors with art and music. In the face of horrific living conditions, starvation, and the threat of deportation to Auschwitz, the Jewish inmates of Terezin – artists, musicians, poets and writers – fought back by staging plays, composing opera, and using paper and ink to record the horrors they witnessed. This creative rebellion reached its peak when conductor Rafael Schaechter led a choir of 150 inmates in studying and performing one of the world’s most difficult and powerful choral works, Verdi’s Requiem, a Catholic liturgical work re-imagined as a condemnation of the Nazis. Schaechter led over a dozen performances of Verdi’s Requiem. In 1944, they delivered their final performance right in the face of Nazi leaders during a site visit from the International Red Cross, staged to give the impression of Terezin as an idyllic town set aside for Czech Jews. Soon afterwards, Schaechter and the remaining choir members were transported to Auschwitz, where an entire generation of Czecholovakia’s Jewish musicians died.
The film has at its central focus the inmates’ defiant performance of Verdi’s Requiem, but it also tells the story of a contemporary tribute to Schaechter by the Boston-based conductor Murry Sidlin, who in 2006 conducted a memorial performance of the Requiem at Terezin. Doug Shultz, the film’s writer and director, began this project as a straightforward filming of Sidlin’s concert at Terezin, but it grew into a documentary that features interviews with survivors of Terezin and animations developed from surviving drawings depicting life at Terezin by artists imprisoned there. Commenting on the power of the Requiem story, Shultz commented: “…when you hear this story, it taps into some different place, in terms of the power of the human spirit. To create under those circumstances is pretty incredible.”