A stirring meditation on history

Kristallnacht, Night of Broken Glass

Sunday, November 10 // 3:00PM - 4:30PM

A stirring artistic response to the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, presented in collaboration with the GBPAC Artist Series and a host of community partners.

Yehuda Yannay – Tangoul Mortii performed by Hunter Capoccioni, bass
Prokofiev – Overture on Hebrew Themes with CVCM
Shostakovich – Chamber Symphony
Stephen Paulus – To Be Certain of the Dawn with Metropolitan Chorale, Wartburg Choir, Cedar Valley Youth Honor Chorus, Brian Pfaltzgraff and Lee Nelson

Meet the ArtistsCurtain Talk

Additional Info

Many scholars view Kristallnacht, Night of Broken Glass, as the beginning of what we now call the Holocaust. Kristallnacht refers to the shards of shattered glass from the windows of synagogues, homes, and Jewish-owned businesses that lined German streets and were plundered and destroyed following a night of violence on November 9th, 1938. This fall we are honored to be joining together with the GBPAC Artist Series to present a stirring artistic response to the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht. Other local contributors to this one-of-a-kind of event include the Metropolitan Chorale, Cedar Valley Chamber Music, UNI Department of Theatre, UNI Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education, Wartburg Choir and youth singers from the Cedar Valley.


Survivor Testimonies

Marianne Bern
Born as Marianne Katzenstein in 1922 in Bielefeld, Germany
Lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Hilde Wohl Adler
Born as Hildegard (Hilde) Wohl in 1928 in Nuremberg, Germany
Lives in Madison, Wisconsin

Fred Lorber
Born as Fritz Lorber in 1923 in Vienna, Austria
Lives in Des Moines, Iowa

Beatrice Muchman
Born as Beatrix Westheimer in 1933 in Berlin, Germany
Lives in Chicago, Illinois


Program Notes

Steven Paulus - To Be Certain of the Dawn

To Be Certain of the Dawn was commissioned by the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis as a gift to Temple Israel synagogue in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps in 1945 and the 40th anniversary of the Vatican document Nostra Aetate. It evolved over four years – beginning with the idea of Fr Michael O’Connell, then rector of the Basilica, that Christians must own and teach about the Holocaust as much as or more than Jews. It was he who decided that an oratorio would be a powerful vehicle for communicating to individuals and communities that children are key to the prevention of genocide, both today and in the future.

There are three main sections to the work: Renewal, Remembrance and Visions. It opens with three blasts from the ancient Jewish instrument, the shofar, or ram’s horn, positioned between three violent and discordant hammer strokes from the orchestra. It settles into a quiet, somewhat ominous setting of the Jewish prayer known as the Sh’ma, and when the chorus enters with orchestra on the words ‘Create a great emptiness in me’, the story begins to unfold.

I chose to set the Biblical verse ‘You should love your neighbour as yourself’ and make it a main theme of the work. This phrase was written in both Hebrew and, ironically, German, on the only stone left standing when Nazi soldiers demolished a temple in Berlin. The cantor sings it in Hebrew at the close of the first section. Later, when the adult chorus sings it in German, the statement’s context makes it both haunting and shocking. Near the end of the oratorio, the chorus sings the phrase in Hebrew and the cantor follows, singing it now from the rear of the hall. This transformational gesture is a unifying moment of reconciliation.

The small string section Veil of Tears, just before the beginning of the third section, offers listeners time to digest the text up to that point. A solo cello line then rises, uttering a very human cry for healing – as if the cellist is the last one standing and must begin the process of bringing us all back together to new and safer ground. There are three more calls from the shofar, this time from the rear of the hall, where the cantor is now located as well. Finally, three pairs of low octaves in the strings vacillate between the tritone of D flat and G, underscoring the uncertainty that still exists and reminding us that there is much to be done before peace and reconciliation are established, both in the music and in the world.

- Stephen Paulus

To Be Certain of the Dawn commemorates the Jewish children, almost a million and a half of them, who were murdered during the Shoah. The faces of the chil- dren are the sun, moon and stars of this work. It intends a message of hope for the children of today’s world; as the common, profound saying goes, ‘You cannot tell the children there is no hope’.

The work is written as a triptych. Renewal, the first section, reveals Christian contrition for all the centuries of ‘the teaching of contempt’ as well as a desire to return to our spiritual roots and seek a new beginning as partners in faith with Jews. The two main choruses here, Teshuvah and Kingdom of Night, attest to Christian remorse. Contrasting with these are several simple blessings from the children’s chorus (I am imagining Jewish children singing in the 1930s as the storms clouds gather).

In Remembrance, the middle section, we hear four ‘meditations upon the faces’ based on images in Roman Vishniac’s Children of a Vanished World, a collection of haunting photographs of Jewish life in Eastern Europe before the Shoah, and so we are still in the 1930s. In the Minneapolis performances, several of these images were projected as audiences heard what these characters, their fates unknown to us, might have been saying – to one another, to the camera, to us. This middle section ends with Hymn to the Eternal Flame, and its words commemorate the children who died. They are based on the image of the central flame and the many thousands of reflected flames at the children’s memorial at the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem – and so we are now in the 1980s. In many faiths, the flame is the most ancient image we have to suggest that God is with us, within us, and that our small individual self is, finally, one with the Divine.

Visions, the final section, brings us to the present time, interfaith time, and we hear several themes in layers: Jews and Christians desiring to walk together ‘in the country of justice’ (wherever that may be found); B’Tselem Elohim, the Image of God, which suggests that the human face reflects the invisible face of God in the human world; the voices of the children, now graduated from simple blessings to some of the most resonant verses in the Hebrew Scriptures; the voices of survivors; the return of the theme ‘You should love your neighbour as yourself’, and the sounding of the shofar, with which we began.

- Michael Dennis Browne


Yehuda Yannay - Tangoul Mortii

A work for solo bass inspired the following poem:

Death Fugue


Black milk of daybreak we drink it at evening
we drink it at midday and morning we drink it at night
we drink and we drink
we shovel a grave in the air there you won't lie too cramped
A man lives in the house he plays with his vipers he writes
he writes when it grows dark to Deutschland your golden hair Margareta
he writes it and steps out of doors and the stars are all sparkling, he whistles his hounds to come close
he whistles his Jews into rows has them shovel a grave in the ground
he commands us to play up for the dance.


Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you at morning and midday we drink you at evening
we drink and we drink
A man lives in the house he plays with his vipers he writes
he writes when it grows dark to Deutschland your golden hair Margareta
Your ashen hair Shulamith we shovel a grave in the air there you won't lie too cramped
He shouts jab the earth deeper you lot there you others sing up and play
he grabs for the rod in his belt he swings it his eyes are so blue
jab your spades deeper you lot there you others play on for the dancing


Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you at midday and morning we drink you at evening
we drink and we drink
a man lives in the house your goldenes Haar Margareta
your aschenes Haar Shulamith he plays his vipers
He shouts play death more sweetly this Death is a master from Deutschland
he shouts scrape your strings darker you'll rise then as smoke to the sky
you'll have a grave then in the clouds there you won't lie too cramped


Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you at midday Death is a master aus Deutschland
we drink you at evening and morning we drink and we drink
this Death is ein Meister aus Deutschland his eye it is blue
he shoots you with shot made of lead shoots you level and true
a man lives in the house your goldenes Haar Margarete
he looses his hounds on us grants us a grave in the air
he plays with his vipers and daydreams der Tod ist ein Meister aus Deutschland


dein goldenes Haar Margarete
dein aschenes Haar Shulamith


- Paul Celan (translation by John Felstiner)



Jason Weinberger

Metropolitan Chorale
The Metropolitan Chorale, comprised of singers from Iowa's Cedar Valley, annually performs two concerts of major choral works with orchestra and soloists in various Waterloo and Cedar Falls venues. The group is comprised of 75-125 serious amateur and professional vocalists under the direction of Lee Nelson. The Chorale reflects the diversity of the Cedar Valley drawing its membership from all walks of life including doctors, farmers, engineers, factory workers, and educators.

Wartburg Choir
Founded in 1937, the Wartburg Choir has received critical international acclaim for its versatility of sound and innovative programming. Called a “mighty fortress of skill” by the Washington Post, the Wartburg Choir has received invitations for special appearances in the United States and abroad, most recently to participate in the December 2011 White House Holiday Concert Series and the National Cathedral’s Bethlehem Prayer Service, which was simulcast worldwide. The choir has competed in the International Trophy Competition in Cork, Ireland, on two separate occasions and is the only American choral group to win first-place honors. Over the past 20 years, the choir has appeared in many prestigious concert halls including the Kennedy Center; Avery Fisher Hall of Lincoln Center; Carnegie Hall; Chicago’s Symphony Hall; and Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis.

Lee Nelson
Lee Nelson is the Patricia R. Zahn Chair in Choral Conducting and director of choral activities at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. Recently honored with the 2012 John O. Chellevold Award for Excellence in Teaching and Professional Service, Nelson conducts the Wartburg Choir and Ritterchor (men’s choir). He also teaches advanced conducting and applied voice and serves as artistic director of Christmas with Wartburg. In addition to his work at Wartburg College, Nelson also serves as music director and conductor of the Metropolitan Chorale, a community choir based in the Cedar Valley.

Brian Pfaltzgraff
Brian Pfaltzgraff is an associate professor of voice at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. Dr. Pfaltzgraff has performed over 30 leading operatic roles and an even wider range of concert works.  He appears regularly with Union Avenue Opera in St. Louis, and has also appeared in productions with Opera Theatre of St. Louis, the St. Louis Masterworks Chorale, the St. Louis Symphony Chorus, Metropolitan Chorale, Toledo Opera, the Lima Symphony, Toledo Symphony, the Detroit Symphony (Civic), Canton Civic Opera, Mansfield Symphony, the Ann Arbor Festival of Song, the Rochester (NY) Chamber Orchestra, the Oak Ridge (TN) Civic Music Association, and the Des Moines Metro Opera.

Cedar Valley Chamber Music
CVCM was founded in 2006 with a mission to erase the notion of the “audience” member by ascribing to the belief that art exists in the dynamic between listeners and performers, an exchange of energy that is palpable when the barriers between those two groups have disintegrated. CVCM wants you not only to hear great music but to experience it through an intimate performance environment.

Hunter Capoccioni
A native of Waterloo, Iowa, Hunter Capoccioni has performed with orchestras and chamber groups throughout the United States, Europe, and Russia. Currently the Artistic Director of Cedar Valley Chamber Music and Instructor of Double Bass at the University of Northern Iowa, Mr. Capoccioni preforms as lecturer and recitalist around the midwest and serves as Principal Double Bass of the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra and as a member of the Des Moines Symphony.

Casey Johnson
Casey Johnson is a freshman majoring in Communicative Disorders and minoring in Music.  She is originally from West Des Moines, Iowa, and this will be her first production at the University of Northern Iowa.

Joseph Schoborg
Joseph Schoborg is a Junior theatre major with an emphasis in both Performance and Drama & Theatre for Youth.  He is originally from Marshalltown, Iowa and has been seen in such productions as The American Way of Eating, The Merchant of Venice (Beach!), as well as Batboy: The Musical at the University of Northern Iowa Strayer-Wood Theatre.

Madison Fairbanks
Madison Fairbanks is a native of the Cedar Valley. She is making her debut at UNI but has been involved in theatre throughout high school in productions such as: Seussical the Musical at Waterloo West High and The Wizard of Oz as Dorothy Gale at the Waterloo Community Playhouse.

Miriam Salamah
Miriam Salamah is a Senior Theatre major with an Emphasis in Performance. She is originally from Osage, Iowa and has been seen in The American Way of Eating, Batboy: The Musical, Lysistrata, Zeitoun, and Playful Inventions. 

Molly Giegerich
Molly Giegerich is currently a senior Spanish and Theatre double major with an emphasis in Performance. She is originally from Mount Vernon, Iowa and has recently been seen in productions such as The American Way of Eating, November, and Playful Inventions at the University of Northern Iowa Strayer-Wood Theatre.

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