Charlottesville – The University of Virginia Chamber Singers joined ensembles from five other universities and conductor Murry Sidlin for a special performance of the Verdi Requiem, as part of the Defiant Requiem project. The concert took place on Wednesday, April 20th at the Music Center at Strathmore, in Maryland.
Since the world premiere performance twenty years ago, the multimedia concert-drama Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín, has had a profound and lasting impact on the performers, audiences, and communities who have experienced this powerful story live. Defiant Requiem combines the magnificent music of Verdi with video testimonials and narration, to tell the story of the courageous Jewish prisoners in the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp (Terezín) who performed the celebrated Verdi Requiem while experiencing the depths of human degradation. With only a smuggled score, they performed the famous oratorio sixteen times, including one performance before senior SS officials from Berlin and an International Red Cross delegation. Conductor Rafael Schächter told the choir, “We will sing to the Nazis what we cannot say to them.”
In addition to UVA, choruses for the event included ensembles from American University, Catholic University, Longwood University, VCU, and Virginia State – as well as the Orchestra of Terezín Remembrance, all led by Murry Sidlin.
Led by UVA faculty conductor Michael Slon and founded in 2005, the UVA Chamber Singers is a select ensemble drawn from the University Singers (UVA’s flagship chorus), and committed to broad programming perspectives, performs a wide variety of repertoire ranging from early music to contemporary compositions. In addition to a performance for the Governor and other distinguished guests at UVA’s 2017 Bicentennial Celebration, performances have included Britten’s Hymn to St. Cecilia, Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas (with Three Notch’d Road Baroque ensemble), programs of Latin American choral music and choral music from film, and new music by Meredith Monk (with the Meredith Monk Vocal Ensemble.) Other collaborations include concerts with the Staunton Music Festival, Victory Hall Opera (in a pioneering presentation of Poulenc opera scenes with deaf actors), and Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival. They’ve sung in workshop with UVA Chamber Singers Peter Phillips and members of the Tallis Scholars, and in 2014, were honored to perform for composer Philip Glass. They’ve also been heard in major works, at VMEA, and on tour in the U.S. and Europe with the University Singers.
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