School of Music Choral Department

To Be Certain of the Dawn

Written by Stephen Paulus in collaboration with librettist Michael Dennis Browne
November 9, 2019 at 7:30 PM
Ted Mann Concert Hall

$15 Advance Adult
$20 Week Adult
$15 UMN Faculty/Staff
$5 children 12 & under | UMN students

About the Performance


The University Choirs embark on an interdisciplinary journey of community dialogue and reflection entitled Every Face: A Project of Common Humanity culminating in a performance of To Be Certain of the Dawn – a Holocaust Memorial Oratorio written by Minnesota composer Stephen Paulus in collaboration with librettist Michael Dennis Browne.

Scored for cantor, soloists, children’s chorus, mixed chorus, and orchestra, the work was commissioned by the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis as a gift to the Twin Cities Jewish community to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the freeing of Holocaust survivors and the 40th anniversary of the Vatican document Nostra Aetate in 2005. The work’s three sections entitled Renewal, Remembrance, and Visions are accompanied by photographs from Roman Vishniac’s collection Children of a Vanished World, portraying Jewish life in Eastern Europe before the Holocaust.

The oratorio focuses on the shared narrative of suffering and hope, and derives its title from a quote by theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel: "This is the task: in the darkest night, to be certain of the dawn, certain of the power to turn a curse into a blessing, agony into song."

Featuring: University Singers; Chamber Singers; Women’s and Men’s Choruses; University Symphony Orchestra; Cantor Barry Ableson, Temple Israel; Project Opera, Singers from Ragazzi and Giovani Ensembles; and Minnesota Opera Education Director Mitra Sadeghpour.

Conducted by Kathy Saltzman Romey and Matthew Mehaffey.