Paulus: To Be Certain of the Dawn


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Paulus: To Be Certain of the Dawn



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Release date:

30th March 2009




59 minutes


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Paulus: To Be Certain of the Dawn

Oratorio for cantor, soloists, children’s chorus, mixed chorus and orchestra

Barry Abelson (cantor), Elizabeth Futral (soprano), Christina Baldwin (mezzo-soprano), John Tessier (tenor) & Philip Cokorinos (bass-baritone)

Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Chorale, Minnesota Boychoir, The Basilica Cathedral Choir & The Cathedral Choristers, Osmo Vänskä


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This oratorio, To Be Certain of the Dawn, was commissioned by the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis as a gift to the Jewish community to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the freeing of Holocaust survivors and as an important lesson that the prevention of future genocide is in the hands of today’s children. In creating the work, the composer and librettist have emphasized the victimization of innocent children, with a children’s choir playing an important part in the score. This aspect was further emphasised at the first performance in 2005 by the projection of photographs from 1935-1938 of Jewish children living in cities and villages in Eastern Europe.

The highly moving work, which raises eternal questions regarding humanity, tolerance and respect, became a labour of love from Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra, as well as the other musicians involved in the first performance, many of whom also participated in the present recording. The oratorio has subsequently been performed by student forces in the USA who have taken it around the world.

Stephen Paulus, a prolific Minnesota-based composer, has received commissions from orchestras and institutions such as the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Washington Opera and Los Angeles Master Chorale. His close collaboration with librettist Michael Dennis Browne on To be Certain of the Dawn is a continuation of a creative partnership of long standing which has also produced, among other works, the operas The Village Singer, Harmoonia and The Three Hermits. Paulus “often finds melodic patterns that are fresh and familiar at the same time. ... His scoring is invariably expert and exceptionally imaginative in textures and use of instruments.” The New York Times on a different recording.

Stephen Paulus: To Be Certain of the Dawn

Part I: Renewal: Sh'ma Yisrael! (cantor)

Part I: Renewal: Teshuvah (soprano, tenor, chorus)

Part I: Renewal: First Blessing (children's chorus)

Part I: Renewal: Kingdom of Night (cantor, children's chorus, chorus)

Part I: Renewal: V'a Havta Le Reacha Kamocha (cantor)

Part II: Remembrance: 2 Little Girls in the Street (soprano, mezzo-soprano, chorus)

Part II: Remembrance: Second Blessing (children's chorus)

Part II: Remembrance: Where Was the Light? (chorus)

Part II: Remembrance: Old Man, Young Man (tenor, baritone, chorus)

Part II: Remembrance: Third Blessing (soprano, children's chorus)

Part II: Remembrance: This We Ask of You (chorus)

Part II: Remembrance: Du sollst deinen Nachsten lieben wie dich selbst (cantor, chorus)

Part II: Remembrance: 3 Coats (mezzo-soprano, tenor, chorus)

Part II: Remembrance: Fourth Blessing (children's chorus)

Part II: Remembrance: Breathe in Us, Spirit of God (tenor, baritone, chorus)

Part II: Remembrance: Boy reading (baritone, chorus)

Part II: Remembrance: Interlude: Veil of Tears

Part II: Remembrance: Hymn to the Eternal Flame (soprano, children's chorus, chorus)

Part III: Visions: B'Tselem Elohim (soloists, children's chorus, chorus)

Part III: Visions: Voices of Survivors (soloists)

Part III: Visions: V'a Havta Le Reacha Kamocha (cantor, children's chorus, chorus)

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