– “This 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.” (Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, 1907-1972, Polish-born American rabbi and one of the leading Jewish theologians and Jewish philosophers of the 20th century)

(MANKATO, Minn., Sept. 6) – To bring public attention to the darkest time in Minnesota history – the U.S.-Dakota Conflict and the hangings that took place in Mankato in 1862 – the acclaimed 80-member Mankato Symphony Orchestra under the musical direction of Kenneth Freed will present two powerful pieces of music that will pay tribute to this tragedy while offering a message of optimism for the future of all Minnesotans.

“To Be Certain of the Dawn” will feature two compositions – “Trail of Tears” by Michael Daugherty and “To Be Certain of the Dawn” by Stephen Paulus. The concert will take place on Sunday, November 18, 3 p.m., at Mankato West High School Auditorium.

Dave Larsen (Mdewakanton Dakota) – tribal historian, educator, former tribal chairman of Lower Sioux Indian Community, and former director of American Indian Affairs at MNSU/Mankato – will open the concert with a traditional Dakota prayer.

The first piece that will be performed, Michael Daugherty’s flute concerto “Trail of Tears,” was inspired by the 1838-39 forced removal of American Indians from their southeastern U.S. homelands. Daugherty is one of the most commissioned, performed and recorded composers on the American concert scene today. The piece is described by Daugherty as a musical journey into how the human spirit discovers ways to deal with upheaval, adversity and adapting to a new environment. “Trail of Tears” will be performed in its entirety for the first time on November 18.

The second piece that will be performed, Minnesota composer Stephen Paulus’s multimedia oratorio, which was commissioned by Fr. Michael O’Connell and Rabbi Joseph from the Twin Cities, will bring a message of hope and forgiveness that will speak to all Minnesotans. Paulus’s work, inspired by photographs taken during the Holocaust, tells the story of faith and hope through the eyes of children. Still images will be projected on a screen above the orchestra and will correspond with vignettes sung by choirs and soloists.

Several guest artists will be featured, including: Mankato State University Concert Choir; Musicorum; Mankato Children’s Chorus; Minnesota Chorale; Angela Mortellaro, soprano; Abigail Fischer, mezzo soprano; Brad Benoit, tenor; Kimm Julian, baritone; and Jill Mahr, flute.

“Even after 150 years, Minnesotans are still struggling with what happened in 1862…how do we find the words to describe something that was – and remains – indescribable?” says Mankato Symphony Orchestra Music Director Kenneth Freed. “I believe that music is a language we all share and it is through music that perhaps we can come to terms with the past.”

Individual tickets cost between $5 (youth) and $25 (adults) and can be purchased from the Twin Rivers Box Office by phone (507) 387-1008; by mail (Mankato Symphony Orchestra, P.O. Box 645, Mankato, MN 56002: Make checks payable to “Twin Rivers Council for the Arts”); or in person at the Twin Rivers Box Office (523 South Second Street, Mankato). For box office hours, call (507) 387-1008. Patrons may also purchase tickets at the concert.

The concert is made possible with the generous support of the Mankato Free Press. The Minnesota State Arts Board – through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature from the State’s general fund and its Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund with the money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008 – provided operating support. Additional support came from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

About Mankato Symphony Orchestra

Now in its 62nd season, the Mankato Symphony Orchestra is comprised of 80 talented amateur and professional musicians from the Greater Mankato and Southern Minnesota regions. The MSO offers three different performance series and plays many different styles of music ranging from traditional classical music and opera to jazz and pops. Music Director Kenneth Freed has been with the MSO since 2006. In addition to conducting, he is a violist with the Minnesota Orchestra. For more information about Mankato Symphony Orchestra, visit http://www.mankatosymphony.com.


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