Photo by Brendan Hopper '06
The Terezin entrance gateway with the
infamous inscription found in all concentration camps, translated
"Work will make you free."
Messiah College May 2006
Prague cross-cultural trip
The trip was from May 17-June 4 and we were based in Prague at the Theological Faculty House of Charles University. There were 18 students on the trip and two faculty members. I was the leader of the trip and the co-leader was Chad Ruegsegger, who is an adjunct faculty member here in the music department.
In Prague, the students spent time at the Prague Castle, the Jewish Quarter, Nove Mesto (New Town), Stare Mesto (Old Town) and Male Strana. Within these sights are many attractions. The Clock Tower, St. Nicholas Church, Our Lady Before Tyn Church, the Charles Bridge, the National Museum, to name a few. In addition, the trip was an arts-based trip, so we attended concerts, plays, and operas every other day. Also included, were visits to various art galleries.
An additional side trip included a two-night stay in Salzburg, Austria, where we visited sights filmed in the Sound of Music, and the birthplace, home, and museums of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The year 2006 marks the 250th anniversary of his birth.
While in Prague, the students studied the Czech language each morning from a Czech professor at the Theological Seminary. Each student was also required to research a project directly related to their major. Students were required to meet a Czech citizen working in their field, and find out what every day life is like there. This project was presented to the class at the end of the trip.
Our day in Terezin was particularly special because of how the day ended. After visiting the Main and Small Fortresses, along with seeing the museums of artwork, set designs, musical scores, etc., we attended the dress rehearsal of Verdi's Defiant Requiem in the riding stables. The performance was performed there as a tribute to the 16 performances of Verdi's requiem held in the concentration camp between 1942-1944. The movements of the requiem were interspersed with narration and video of survivors in the camp. The performance ends with all members of the choir and orchestra, humming as they walk out the back door of the riding stables and getting in a train car, which drives away. This symbolized the many Jews who were transported from Terezin to Auschwitz, by train, to their execution. Two special highlights of this evening were meeting the conductor, Murray Sidlin, and a survivor, Edgar Krasa, who had sung in all 16 performances of the Defiant Requiem while he was imprisoned in the Terezin ghetto. It will be a day long remembered by all of us.
--Rebecca Wilt, faculty advisor for the trip