April 24, 2019 at 7:30pm, Washington National Cathedral

Steven Zielke, Conductor
Oregon State University Choirs
    Oregon State University Chamber Choir; Steven Zielke, Conductor
    Oregon State University Meistersingers; Russell Christensen, Conductor
    Bella Voca; Sanda Babb, Conductor
Children’s Chorus of Washington; Margaret Nomura Clark, Artistic Director
Cantor Arianne Brown
PostClassical Ensemble; Angel Gil-Ordóñez, Artistic Director

About the Concert

To Be Certain of the Dawn is a monumental 75-minute work for large chorus, children’s chorus, cantor, and full orchestra, composed by the late Stephen Paulus with libretto by poet Michael Dennis Browne.

The librettist’s notes on the oratorio best sum up the emotion and significance behind this, the Washington, D.C. premiere performance of the work:

This oratorio was commissioned by Fr. Michael O’Connell, rector of the Basilica of Saint Mary, and intended as a gift from the Christian community to the Jewish community. The first performance was at the Basilica in November 2005, a year which marked the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of the death camps and the fortieth anniversary of the Vatican document Nostra Aetate (In Our Time), which had much to do with the renewal of dialogue between Jews and Christians. 

In Part One (Renewal), we hear from the chorus Christian grief at their failure to support Jews in the terrible ordeal of the Shoah and for many centuries of “the teaching of contempt.” We hear their desire for teshuvah—repentance, atonement, a return to the spiritual roots of their faith in Judaism. We also hear four blessings sung by the children: this is an example of the impulse to praise God, daily, frequently, even while storm clouds are gathering. We also hear from the cantor the Sh’ma and phrases from the Kaddish, as well as the introduction of the recurring theme “You should love your neighbor as yourself.”

In Part Two (Remembrance), the soloists sing dramatizations of four photographs taken from Roman Vishniac’s book Children of a Vanished World—glimpses of what Geoffrey Hartman calls “a vanished life in its vigor.” The chorus continues with more expressions of Christian remorse together with a wish to “grow and be known by our love.” We also hear quotation from the Nuremberg laws of the 1903s with their inhuman constrictions upon Jewish life. The section concludes with Hymn to the Eternal Flame, which is based on the children’s memorial of multiple reflected flames at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

In Part Three (Visions), several themes are woven: the desire for Jews and Christians to walk together in solidarity of interfaith in “the country of justice,” however scarred the world; divine promises as revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures; quotations taken from interviews with three Minnesota-based survivors and the daughter of one survivor. At the conclusion, both choruses, together with the cantor, sing “You should love your neighbor as yourself” in Hebrew, and we hear the sound of the shofar, with which the work began.

                          -Michael Dennis Browne


About the Artists

Steven M. Zielke, Director of Choral Studies at Oregon State University and Associate Director in the School of Arts and Communication is the Patricia Valian Reser Professor of Music. He directs the OSU Chamber Choir and teaches choral conducting and choral music pedagogy. Zielke earned his doctoral and master’s degrees in choral conducting from Florida State University where he studied with Andre Thomas and Rodney Eichenberger. This past year, Zielke was proud to be presented the Beaver Champion Award by President Ed Ray.

Prior to his graduate work, Zielke received a B.M.E. from Friends University (Wichita, Kans.) and taught middle and high school choral music in the Kansas public schools. Following his graduate work, Zielke was the Associate Director of Choirs at the University of Arizona where he conducted the Symphonic Choir and worked as a colleague with the late Dr. Maurice Skones.

Zielke is a frequent clinician and guest conductor, including the Academic Orchestra of the University of Stuttgart and the University of Tübingen Chamber Singers in Tübingen, Germany, as well as leading master classes and conducting at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music in Sichuan Province, China. Choirs under his direction have appeared at state, regional, and national conferences, including an invited 2015 performance at the National Collegiate Choral Association. In addition, Zielke is often invited to present workshops and lectures on choral music and music education, including a session on community singing at the 2017 National ACDA conference in Minneapolis.

Zielke is a past-president of the Oregon chapter of the American Choral Directors Association and a past-president of the Oregon Music Educators Association. Additionally, he currently serves as the Adjudication Chair for Oregon ACDA. He is also the founder and music director of the Corvallis Repertory Singers, a semi-professional ensemble devoted to exemplary performances of the finest in choral literature. Additionally, he serves as the director of music at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Corvallis and is proud to be the voice of the OSU Marching Band.

The Oregon State University Chamber Choir is the premier choral ensemble on campus. The auditioned choir is comprised of 38 carefully selected students who perform the finest in choral music repertoire. Chamber Choir performs each term and tours regionally or internationally every spring. Recent tours have included Hawaii, Canada, China and New York — where Chamber Choir, Bella Voce and the OSU Meistersingers performed in Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. In June of 2015 Chamber Choir returned to China to give concerts in Beijing, Chengdu and Zhengzhou. In 2017 the choir toured throughout the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, and in June 2018 the ensemble traveled throughout Europe, performing in Leipzig, Vienna and Prague.

The Oregon State University Meistersingers are a 50-60 member men’s chorus. This auditioned ensemble, comprised of music majors as well as students from other majors across campus, performs each term, and frequently entertains at community, university, and sporting events. Meistersingers has toured the northwest, Canada, New York, and Hawaii. They have performed at numerous state and regional music conferences, most recently having been invited to perform at the Northwest American Choral Directors Association Conference in March, 2018.

Bella Voce, conducted by Dr. Sandra Babb, is the premier women’s choir at Oregon State University. The choir consists of 40 undergraduate students studying a variety of degree programs at OSU. Some favorite past performances include the Vivaldi Gloria RV589 with the Corvallis-OSU Symphony, and the commission and world premiere of Joan Szymko’s piece, “viva sweet love,” at the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts in New York City, May, 2013, and Britten’s Ceremony of Carols in December 2013. Bella Voce has toured the northwestern United States, Hawaii, Finland, Denmark, and Estonia and Brazil. In July 2014 the choir was invited, by audition, to perform at ISME 2014, the International Society for Music Education Conference in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Music at Oregon State University is a dynamic community full of passionate people. We offer rigorous degree programs in music taught by experts in their fields. Our students receive an impressive amount of individual attention from faculty, and we pride ourselves on being an inclusive program within the School of Arts and Communication. Music programs filter into the lives of students across campus, no matter what their major is. Approximately four percent of the OSU student body participates in music in some fashion.

Degrees are offered with concentrations in music education, music performance, and music production and technology. Students pursue either the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science and tailor the music-specific courses to fit their area of interest.

OSU Music is a leading producer of music educators and has placed teachers across the country. Performance graduates have gone on to study in some of the finest graduate programs in the country. OSU Music students are immersed in a talented, dedicated and passionate community of like-minded peers who are interested in full pursuing their musical passions.

With more than 20 student ensembles performing everything from traditional classical repertoire to cutting-edge electronic music, there is an opportunity for students to hone their skills for all professional musical settings. OSU hosts over 100 concerts, recitals and masterclasses each academic year, giving students access to a wide range of high quality performance situations, world-class guest performers, and visiting master teachers from across all musical disciplines.

Russell Christensen joined the Oregon State University music department in the fall of 2009. He is the director of the OSU Meistersingers men’s chorus and teaches choral methods and choral conducting. Christensen holds a Bachelor of Arts in music education from the University of Oregon and a Master of Arts in music education from Western Oregon University. Before coming to OSU, Christensen taught high school choral music in Oregon for 30 years. Choirs under his direction have been selected to perform at national, regional, and state conventions of the American Choral Directors Association and the National Association for Music Education. During Christensen’s 16-year tenure at Sprague High School in Salem Oregon, the school’s Concert Choir placed at the ACDA/OSAA State Choir Competition every year including winning nine championships. In 2000, the Sprague music department was chosen as the National Grammy Signature School by the GRAMMY foundation.

Christensen was named Oregon Music Educator of the Year for 2007 by the Oregon Music Educators Association. In 2004, The Oregon Symphony Association in Salem recognized him as Music Educator of the Year. He is also the first recipient of the Western Oregon University Alumni Excellence Award in Music. Russ is a frequent choral adjudicator and clinician in the state and is an active member of the Oregon Music Education Association and Intercollegiate Men’s Chorus Association.

Sandra Babb is assistant professor of choral music education at Oregon State University. She received her Bachelor of Music Education, Master of Music Education, and Ph.D. in music education from The Florida State University. She currently teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in the Professional Music Teacher Education Program and conducts Bella Voce, the premier women’s choir. Her research interests include choral tone development and best practices in pre-service music educator training. She has presented research and interest sessions at state and national conferences, including the National Association for Music Education, the American Choral Directors Association, the Texas Music Educators Association, and the New York State School Music Association. Dr. Babb has published articles in the International Journal of Research in Choral Singing and the Choral Journal, and she is a contributing author for the K-12 choral textbook series Voices in Concert.

Prior appointments include: the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, CUNY in Queens, NY; the Gulf Coast Girl Choir in Tampa, Florida; and the Pasco County Public Schools in New Port Richey, Fla. Her choral ensembles have performed for the Florida, New York, and Southern Division conferences of the American Choral Directors Association. She is in frequent demand as a clinician and conductor for honor choirs throughout the United States.

Dr. Babb is an active member of the National Association for Music Education, the American Choral Directors Association and the College Music Society. She is the advisor for the OSU chapter of NAfME and has served as the Youth and Student Activities Repertoire & Standards Chair for NY-ACDA. She is a member of the National Music Honor Society, Pi Kappa Lambda, and was a recipient of the Mainstream Teacher of the Year Award by the Pasco County School District Council for Exceptional Student Education.


Founded in 1995 as a single chorus of 70 children, Children’s Chorus of Washington (CCW) was led for its first 20 years by founder Joan Gregoryk, who established the organization’s reputation for artistic excellence. Over the years, CCW has provided exemplary choral music training to more than 2,500 young people. Now in its 23rd season, CCW has embarked on a new era under the artistic leadership of Margaret Nomura Clark, who continues the mission of providing outstanding choral music education to vocalists ages 5-18 in metropolitan Washington, DC.

Our choristers perform frequently at public and private engagements with top ensembles (National Symphony Orchestra, The Washington Chorus, Choral Arts Society, Cathedral Choral Society) and at some of the nation’s most prestigious venues (The Kennedy Center, Washington National Cathedral, Lincoln Theatre). One of a handful of children’s choruses that tours internationally, CCW exposes choristers to different cultures and to music in a variety of foreign languages. Past tours have included China, Italy, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Brazil, and France. In summer 2018, students traveled to South Africa.

In 2012, CCW launched SING DC, PREP Classes, and Teacher Workshops to expand our engagement with a broader community of young singers and music teachers. SING DC provides choral music education in under-resourced schools at no cost to the students or host schools. PREP Classes introduce our youngest students to music and choral singing. Teacher Workshops offer professional development, best practices, and peer mentoring to music teachers who want to enhance the choral ensembles in their schools.

CCW received the Greater Washington Area Choral Excellence Award for Best Educational Outreach in 2012 and 2014; the 2014 DC Mayor’s Arts Award for Excellence in an Artistic Discipline; and an Increased Access to Music Instruction grant from the DC Deputy Mayor for Education in 2016. CCW was selected as “One of the best small charities in the Greater Washington region” for the 2015/2016 Catalogue for Philanthropy.

Margaret Nomura Clark joined the Children’s Chorus of Washington as Artistic Director in August 2016. She was the Associate Artistic Director of the San Francisco Boys Chorus from 1997-2015, directing the Intermediate chorus and supervising all tiers of the SFBC Training Chorus School. Together with Artistic Director, Ian Robertson, Ms. Clark worked closely with the San Francisco Symphony and on many different productions with the nationally acclaimed San Francisco Opera. She has performed and toured with the SFBC at numerous festivals including the Grand Teton Music Festival. A highlight of her career was an invitation with the San Francisco Boys Chorus to sing at the inauguration of President Barak Obama in 2009. In the fall of 2016, she was appointed to the choral faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Pre-college Division and launched a choral program for instrumental students ranging in ages 7-18. In addition to her work with the SFBC and SFCM, Mrs. Clark was the middle school music teacher at the Hamlin School for Girls in San Francisco. Over the past 11 years, she created and established a choral program that now is a hallmark of the Hamlin School. Ms. Clark’s choruses have consistently earned Gold medals and Unanimous Superior rankings at festivals and choral adjudications. Ms. Clark earned her B.M. and M.M.E in Music Education from the Oberlin Conservatory and has studied choral conducting with Robert Shaw, Rodney Eichenberger, Henry Leck, and Doreen Rao.

Arianne Brown is the senior Cantor of Adas Israel Congregation in Washington DC. A New Jersey native, she aspired to be a cantor since the age of eight. Arianne graduated from Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts with a Bachelor of Music Education/Voice, and from the Jewish Theological Seminary with a Master of Sacred Music and Master of Arts in Jewish Education. Arianne was a Cantor at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles for 6 years.

Arianne feels incredibly blessed to be in a profession where she has the ability to positively affect the lives of people of all ages. Her primary goal in all that she does is to inspire our people to love and connect to Judaism through prayer, education, and the beautiful music of our tradition. She enjoys teaching students of all ages, working with her talented children’s choir, and participating in all aspects of synagogue life.

Theater roles include Lili in Carnival, Hodel in Fiddler on  the Roof, Hope in Anything Goes, Luisa in The Fantasticks, Zorah in Ruddigore. Opera credits include roles in Carmen, The Marriage of Figaro, and Amelia Goes to the Ball. Ari has performed off Broadway in On Second Avenue, as a soloist at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kodak Theater and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and sang the national anthem at Dodger Stadium, the Home Depot Center, the Staples Center, and at the 2015 Jewish Heritage month presidential address. Performances with the Folksbiene Yiddish Theater include Di Kishifmakhern, Akeydes Yitzkhok, Motke Ganev, and Mames Loshn Kugl. Arianne wrote, directed, and performed a show entitled The Enchanting Tale of the Yiddish Theater at the Ida Kaminska State Theater in Warsaw. She directed and performed in productions of Yours, Anne and From Death to Hope.

She was a featured performer at the Krakow Jewish Music Festival, and a faculty member of Klez Kanada. Movie credits include a role as a jazz singer in Reunited, and appearances in One Hundred Voices: A Journey Home. Arianne was featured in the Cantors Assembly’s The New Faces of the Cantorate. Ari was the author of an advice column entitled Tayere Khaznte (Dear Cantor) for the Forverts. Her trio, Ashira, released an album entitled Suddenly Spirited in 2008, featuring many original compositions. Arianne’s solo album is Eternal Flame: A Yiddish Love Story, and on behalf of Adas Israel, she produced a children’s recording entitled Shabbat Sing!

Cantor Ari is married to Rabbi Randy Brown, and is the proud Ima of Yonah Zemer and Nathaniel Emet.

PostClassical Ensemble was founded in 2003 by Angel Gil-Ordóñez and Joseph Horowitz as an experimental orchestral laboratory. Beginning in Fall 2017, PCE becomes Ensemble-in-Residence at the Washington National Cathedral.

The Ensemble’s point of origin is the conviction that musical events demand a sense of occasion, and that this criterion has been sacrificed to familiarity and routine. PCE is committed to radically rethinking the concert experience, to refreshing both format and repertoire. All PCE programing is thematic. Many programs integrate theater, dance, or film. Gil-Ordonez and Horowitz gravitate toward works deserving greater advocacy. (The composers PCE has most performed are Silvestre Revueltas and Lou Harrison.)

The marginalization of classical music in 21st century America, Gil-Ordonez and Horowitz believe, cannot be counteracted by diluting or simplifying the listening experience. Rather, music of consequence should be creatively contextualized in new spaces for audiences, old and new, in search of deeper paths of engagement both intellectual and spiritual.