Conductor to be honored by Simon Wiesenthal Center

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Maestro Murry Sidlin in performance. (Photo Credit:

Maestro Murry Sidlin in performance. (Photo Credit:

BEVERLY HILLS (CNS) – Conductor Murry Sidlin will be among the honorees at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s annual National Tribute Dinner tonight at the Beverly Wilshire hotel.

Sidlin created what he described as the concert drama “Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin,” a re-creation of the 16 performances by Jewish prisoners at a concentration camp in Terezin in what is now the Czech Republic, organized by Rafael Schachter.

Sidlin will receive the center’s Medal of Valor for his “extraordinary efforts to keep alive the memory of Rafael Schachter and his re-creation of Schachter and his chorus’ performances of the Verdi Requiem, in defiance of their Nazi captors, will assure that Schachter’s memory lives on in perpetuity,” according to the center.

Sidlin conducted a performance of “Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin” April 29 at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Receiving the medals posthumously will be Mother Maria Elisabetta Hesselblad and Mother Ricarda Beauchamp Hambrough, Catholic nuns who sheltered about 60 Jews in Rome following the arrival of the Nazis in 1943, and Waitstill Sharp, an American Unitarian minister, and his social worker wife Martha, who helped save Jews during World War II.
Hesselblad was born a Lutheran in Sweden in 1870, worked in the U.S. as a nurse, converted to Catholicism in 1902 and later joined the Bridgettines, a Swedish order, during a visit to Rome. Hesselblad died in Rome in 1957 at the age of 86 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2000, one step short of sainthood.

Hambrough was born into a Protestant family on the Isle of Wight and baptized into Catholicism in Brighton, England, when she was 4. She died in Rome in 1966 at the age of 79.

The Sharps accepted a posting in Czechoslovakia in 1939 as representatives of a program to help endangered refugees, administering relief to hundreds of endangered Jews and other refugees in Prague. They later aided refugees in southern Europe, France and Portugal.

Martha Sharp died in 1954, 30 years before her husband.

Twentieth Century Fox Film chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos will receive the center’s highest honor, the Humanitarian Award, for his support of the center and its Museum of Tolerance.

DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, a longtime center trustee, will present the award to Gianopulos, who serves on the boards of many philanthropic and civic organizations, including the National Entertainment Advisory Council for the Anti-Defamation League.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is an international Jewish human rights organization that combats hate and anti-Semitism around the world.

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