University Choir Returns to Carnegie Hall to Perform Holocaust Piece

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.

The Nebraska Wesleyan University Choir has had lots of practice.

For the second time in three years, the choir will perform at the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York City.

On Saturday, May 24, the University choir will join the Lincoln Choral Artists to perform “To Be Certain of the Dawn,” a 60-minute piece that mourns Holocaust victims. The song was written for the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps.

William Wyman, professor of music and University Choir director, said the group spent the entire spring semester working on the piece. In May they performed it at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Lincoln.

“It’s been a long process,” said Wyman. “Some of the singers knew the piece from before. About two-thirds of the choir had to learn it from scratch.”

The piece has held a special significance to the choir for the past four years. They were honored with the privilege premiering it for the American Choral Directors. They have also had a chance to meet and interact with the composer and others with significant ties to the piece.

“It’s a piece we’ve lived with for almost four years now,” said Wyman.

The opportunity to perform “To Be Cetain of the Dawn” has been a significant learning experience for choir members.

“They saw how it seared into the soul of the audience when they performed it,” said Wyman. “It’s that powerful of a piece. You take that and place it in the most prestigious concert hall of the world—it’s a very powerful experience to deal with.”

“I am unbelievably excited for our trip to New York City. The piece that we're singing is indescribably beautiful and difficult, as well as physically and emotionally taxing,” said sophomore music major Kendall Victor of Nebraska City. “Taking it to New York to perform at Carnegie Hall is making it feel even more real and meaningful.”

Choir members will spend much of they time rehearsing while in New York City, but they’ve allotted time for sightseeing and attending Broadway shows too. In addition, the NWU Alumni Office will host a pre-concert reception in New York City. Attendees will attend the Carnegie Hall performance.

The choir’s opportunity to perform again at Carnegie Hall speaks to the university’s choral tradition, said Wyman.

“I think it’s absolutely appropriate that they perform in the best halls,” said Wyman. “It affirms the fact that there is something unique and special here.”

“You’re talking about one of the great halls of the world,” he added. “The opportunity to do a very special piece in a very special hall feels good,” he added. “It doesn’t get much better than that.”

“There is no group in the world that I would rather sing it with than the University Choir,” said Victor. “We've been through so much together this semester alone with this piece, and I'm so excited for this new experience with them.”

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The University Choir returns to Carnegie Hall on May 24; it's the choir's second performance there in three years.