“A Child of Our Time”: End-of-the-Semester Concert from the University’s Orchestra and Choir

The choir and orchestra of the University of Bremen will present Michael Tippett’s “A Child of Our Time” at the Bremen Cathedral.

For months, intensive rehearsals have been taking place for the end-of-semester concert in a magnificent setting. The choir and orchestra of the University of Bremen will present Michael Tippett’s “A Child of Our Time” at the Bremen Cathedral. The British composer’s work was deliberately chosen for the performance on Holocaust Remembrance Day for the victims of Nazism. It deals with the history of 17-year-old Jewish boy Herschel Grynszpan.

British composer Michael Tippett composed his thoughtful and moving oratorio for a choir, orchestra, and solo voices between 1939 and 1941. The title refers to 17-year-old Jewish boy Herschel Grynszpan, who made a successful assassination attempt on German embassador Ernst vom Rath in Paris in November 1938. The Nazis took it as cause for the pogroms of the Jewish German population – “Kristallnacht” (Night of Broken Glass). Tippett heard about the assassination and the pogroms through the British media and reacted immediately with the composition of this oratorio.

Work Criticizes Pogroms and Assassination

Tippett, a staunch pacifist, reflects on the background and motives of Grynszpan’s crime and its consequences. He is disgusted by the pogroms, but is also critical of the assassination by Herschel Grynszpan. He explores the opening abysses both in the music and in the libretto written by himself with references back to C. G. Jung and T. S. Eliot. In doing so, he opens up perspectives on experiences of persecution, exclusion, and terror that go far beyond the concrete subject of the work. They give the work a timeless character and unfortunately also a very current dimension.

Michael Tippett’s oratorio was inspired by the melodies of English polyphonic Renaissance music, which suddenly sounds strange and new due to its coupling with compositional achievements of the 20th century. In its musical form, its follows the baroque models of Handel’s “Messiah” and J. S. Bach’s “St. John Passion” and “St. Matthew Passion.” Tippett replaced the chorales in Bach’s Passions with five simple yet all the more moving spirituals. But there are also echoes of Weill’s “The Threepenny Opera” and the dramatic scenes in the opera genre.

The university’s music director, Dr. Susanne Gläß, deliberately chose the work of Michael Tippett together with orchestra and choir for the concert to end the 2018/19 winter semester because it will be performed on Holocaust Remembrance Day for the victims of Nazism. The performance is part of a series of events offered by the University of Bremen to mark this occasion.

Venue and Tickets:

Sunday, January 27, 2019, 7 p.m., Bremen Cathedral: Michael Tippett: “A Child of Our Time” – performance in memory of the victims of Nazism; Anja Petersen / soprano, Kerstin Stöcker / alto, Clemens Löschmann / tenor, Martin Kronthaler / bass, University of Bremen orchestra and choir, conductor: Dr. Susanne Gläß.

Tickets purchased in advance cost 18 euros or 9 euros reduced; tickets at the venue on the night cost 20 euros or 10 euros reduced. Advance sales will take place at Kapitel 8 at the Bremische Evangelische Kirche and via Nordwest-Ticket, and are also available in the university canteen from January 23 to 25. Seats are not numbered, and the box office in the cathedral will open on the day of the concert at 6:15 p.m.

Video about Rehearsals and Background

A video of the choir and orchestra rehearsals with further information on the background of “A Child of Our Time” can be found here:

Additional Information:


Dr. Susanne Gläß
University Music Director
University of Bremen
Tel.: +49 421 218-60109
E-mail: sglaessprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de

Choir und Orchestra of the University of Bremen sing and play Michael Tippetts „A Child of Our Time“ at the Bremer Dom.