The Defiant Requiem Foundation is dedicated to preserving the memory of the prisoners in the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp (Terezín) during World War II, who, despite monumental suffering, disease, and the constant presence of death, found hope and inspiration in the arts and humanities. The Foundation honors their memory and their inspired artistic endeavors by focusing on several core components including:
- The screening of its award-winning and Emmy nominated documentary film Defiant Requiem with an accompanying curriculum guide for teachers;
- The annual perpetuation of The Rafael Schächter Institute for Arts and Humanities in the US and the Czech Republic;
- The production of live concert performances of Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín and Hours of Freedom: The Terezín Composer;
- The theatrical production of Mass Appeal, 1943.
Upon learning of the story of Rafael Schächter and his chorus in Terezín, conductor Murry Sidlin created a multimedia concert-drama that combined a full performance of the Verdi Requiem with testimonials from survivors and vintage footage from the propaganda film that the Nazis made about Terezín. In May 2006, Maestro Sidlin brought a performance of this concert-drama, which he called Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín, to the grounds of the ghetto/concentration camp where the story had originated some 63 years earlier. Since then, this signature concert of The Defiant Requiem Foundation has been performed over 40 times in major cities around the world including Atlanta; Berlin; Boston; Budapest; Chicago; Jerusalem; New York City; Prague; San Diego; Seattle; Vienna, Austria; Washington, DC; Durham, UK; and three times at Terezín itself. All of the aforementioned performances and projects of The Defiant Requiem Foundation offer new insights into our understanding of what it meant to resist and defy attempts to suppress the human spirit during the Holocaust. The programs of The Defiant Requiem Foundation illuminate the courageous actions of the prisoners who chose positive, artistic behavior as their response to Nazi degradation. The contemporary lessons of Defiant Requiem are also explored as an example of ways in which individuals facing barbaric acts of genocide today can find the strength and courage to survive.