The Louisville Master Chorale and Orchestra will present a piece of particular interest to the Jewish community, To Be Certain of the Dawn, by Stephen Paulus on Sunday, October 25, at 3 p.m. at Congregation Adath Jeshurun. There will be a pre-concert lecture with John Hale at 2:15 p.m.
The concert will feature soloists Mary Wilson Redden, Cantor Sharon Hordes, Cantor David Lipp and Alexander Redden. In addition, the Louisville Youth Choir will participate.
To Be Certain of the Dawn is a memorial oratorio that was commissioned in 2005 by the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis as a gift to Temple Israel synagogue in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the freeing of Holocaust survivors and the 40th anniversary of the Vatican II declaration, Nostra Aetate.
“We’ve wanted to expand our horizons and diversify our repertoire,” said the Louisville Master Chorale’s Conductor and Artistic Director Mark Walker. “About three years ago, we presented Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, and it was brought up that maybe we should pursue some Jewish repertoire and Hebrew texts. I was waiting for the right piece to fit our group,” Walker said.
After finding and studying Paulus’ work, Walker “decided it would be perfect as the sequel to the Chichester Psalms.”
Walker is also looking for different venues for the Chorale. “Up to this point,” he said, the Louisville Master Chorale “had not performed in a Jewish venue.” He worked through the Chorale’s channels and consulted with the librettist, Dennis Michael Browne, the retired chair of English at the University of Minnesota, who provided the text. Browne thought performing at a synagogue was a wonderful idea.
Walker then approached Cantor Lipp at Adath Jeshurun and they agreed that the synagogue would be a great venue for the piece.
“The composer of the piece tragically died last year,” Walker said. This performance will take place one week after his yahrtzeit.
The goal of this project is to recognize and honor the Jewish struggle for freedom. For those within the Jewish community, it will provide an artistic experience that explores the eternal issues of humanity, tolerance and respect through the lens of the Holocaust and the Exodus.
For those outside the Jewish community it will bring a sharp focus on the significance of the Holocaust and a deeper understanding of the Jewish struggle for freedom since biblical times It is a moving program that offers a setting for personal reflection and serves as a teaching opportunity for all. The program will also include excerpts from Handel’s Israel in Egypt.
This program is made possible in part by a grant from the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence.
Editor’s Note: Some of the information for this story came from a press release from the Louisville Master Chorale.