Three universities bring Holocaust oratorio to community, world

Thursday, March 27, 2008

ST. CLOUD, Minn. – A Holocaust oratorio, “To Be Certain of the Dawn,” will be performed for the Central Minnesota community – later for European audiences –by singers, instrumentalists and faculty soloists from St. Cloud State University, the College of Saint Benedict, Saint John's University, the SCSU Cantabile Girls Choir of fourth- to ninth-graders, the Saint John's Boys’ Choir and faculty soloists.

The Central Minnesota premiere of the work will be presented in two 7:30 p.m. concerts on Friday, April 25, in Ritsche Auditorium on the St. Cloud State campus and on Saturday, April 26, in the Abbey Church on the campus of St. John's University, Collegeville, Minn.  The two performances sponsored by the St. Cloud State Jewish Studies Program and the General Mills Foundation of Minneapolis are free of charge.

Many of the same performers – students and faculty members – also will present the European premiere of the work at Natzweiler-Struthof (, a former Nazi concentration camp in France.  The concert is one of several to be performed in Germany, Switzerland and France during a May 20-June 4 study tour.  Performers on the European study tour will participate in a curriculum guided by the Jewish Studies Program and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education at St. Cloud State that includes visits to churches, mosques, synagogues, museums, universities and the European Union Parliament.

“To Be Certain of the Dawn,” by composer Stephen Paulus and librettist Michael Dennis Browne, was premiered in 2005 by the Rev. Michael J. O'Connell of the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis to celebrate two important events – the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the death camps at the end of World War II and the 40th anniversary of the Vatican II document that condemned blaming Jews for the death of Christ.  Rooted in themes and subjects of mutual interest to the Jewish and Christian faith communities, the oratorio pays tribute to those who lost their lives in the Holocaust and honors survivors and their descendants.

Students participating in the study tour and European performances are conducting a fundraising drive to help defray expenses.  To offer them financial support, contact Professor Terry Vermillion, St. Cloud State Department of Music chair, (320) 308-5237.

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Contacts: Terry Vermillion, chair, St. Cloud State Music Department, 320-308-5237 Diane Hageman, media relations director, College of Saint Benedict, 320-363-5748

Axel Theimer, professor of music, College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University, 320-363-3374

Joann Weber, executive director, Saint John’s Boys’ Choir, 320-363-2558

Bernard Reuter, director, St. Cloud State Center for Holocaust & Genocide Educ., 320-308-4201

“To Be Certain of the Dawn” Holocaust oratorio:

Cultural sites study group will visit:

The concentration camp:

“To Be Certain of the Dawn” Holocaust Oratorio study tour


May 20 - Depart St. Cloud for Minneapolis airport

May 21 - Arrive in Frankfurt/Main and Düsseldorf

May 22 - Visit Martin Buber Synagogue; visit Catholic Church in former World War II bunker, “Bunkerkirche”

May 23 - Rehearsal at St. Antonius Catholic Church, Düsseldorf-Oberkassel; visit Protestant Church St. Anna

May 24 - Afternoon concert; 20 families of Catholic St. Antonius will each welcome two Cantabile members for a family afternoon and dinner

May 25 - Visit Cologne Cathedral (Köln); visit Muslim “guest workers” community in Düsseldorf

May 26 - Visit town in Ruhrgebiet (former coal mining and industrial area)

May 27-29 - Colmar, Alsace, France (next to Kaiserstuhl and Black Forest; home of Statue of Liberty)

May 28 - Rehearsal at former concentration camp Natzweiler-Struthof, visit museum and tour with director; if time permits visit Alsace/Moselle Cultural Heritage and Migration Museum

May 29 - Concert at Natzweiler Struthof

May 30 - Freiburg/Breisgau, Germany, meet with local musicians and choirs; local evening concert in church, visit synagogue

May 31 - Visit European Parliament, Strasbourg; Europa Park Rust

June 1 - Visit and possible concert at Freiburg University

June 2 - Visit Basel University, Switzerland, lecture by university staff at synagogue; visit cathedral (Munster)

June 3 - Visit former Jewish community house in Breisach; visit traditional Jewish cemetery, Ihringen (site was desecrated by Neo-Nazis)

June 4 - Arrive in Minneapolis

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