An artist's rendering of the execution of 38 Dakota men on Dec. 26, 1862, in Mankato, Minnesota.

Trail of Tears and the 1862 Mankato Massacre Remembered in Tribute Performance by Mankato Symphony Orchesta


On Sunday, Nov. 18, starting at 3 p.m. at Mankato West High School Auditorium–an event will feature the acclaimed 80-member Mankato Symphony Orchestra under Kenneth Freed’s musical direction. “To Be Certain of the Dawn” will include two compositions: “Trail of Tears” by Michael Daugherty and “To Be Certain of the Dawn” by Stephen Paulus. “These two pieces of music will pay tribute to the 1862 tragedy while offering a message of optimism for the future of all Minnesotans,” says Freed in a press release from the symphony.

To open the concert, Dave Larsen, Mdewakanton Dakota, will deliver 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 “To Be Certain of the Dawn,” which was commissioned by Fr. Michael O’Connell and Rabbi Joseph Edelheit 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.

“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 in the press release. “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 by phone from the Twin Rivers Box Office at (507) 387-1008 or online at Tickets also will be available at the door.


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