I imagine that members of The Choir are slowly emerging from what I hope was a long night’s sleep – though I know at least one of us was singing at a Bar Mitzvah this morning. Our participation in yesterday’s events is surely one of the high points of my participation in The Choir, thus far. In a way, I believe it represents the zenith of what the organization is capable. From a musical standpoint, we prepared three intense programs of music, much of which was new to many of us, and performed them in a single day. From an organizational standpoint, our fantastic staff easily overcame daunting logistical challenges with aplomb (perhaps it just looked easy). Likewise, dozens of generous donors financed the entire cost of our participation in a way that is deeply humbling to this singer. The level of cheerful collaboration with the other participants was so high, and so marked with joy and kindness and a kind of musical and spiritual fraternity. Undergirding this was the solemn remembrance of the events of ten years ago, and surely those memories sweetened the performances of the various requiems and commemorative pieces sung by all the choirs. Indeed, as I mentioned yesterday, approaching St. Paul’s Chapel, with the scores ribbons of remembrance tied around the fence, and then entering the chapel and seeing the banners and memorabilia, the gravity of the moment overcame me. Even so, the second part of Trinity’s ambition for the day, so eloquently articulated by the vicar, The Rev. Anne Mallonee, in her remarks beginning the 8:30 concert, to move forward in love, played an equally powerful role in my experience of the day. The words of the Jane Griner, the poet whose text was set by Daniel Gawthrop in the beautiful piece Sing Me to Heaven, seem especially fitting:
Words alone are vain and vacant, and my heart is mute
In response to aching silence, memory summons half-heard voices
And my soul finds primal eloquence, and wraps me in song
And so, it seemed to me that the day was about wrapping all of the stuff of 9/11 in song: the grief, the horror, the loss, the perseverance, the bravery, the persistance. I wish those who weren’t there could feel, in some measure, the sense of love that absolutely suffused the day. And finally, despite aching joints, exhaustion, and overwhelming emotions, we joined our colleagues and new friends from the other choirs and united with a deep sense of love for a final performance that none of us will soon forget.
Special mention must be made of the gracious hospitality extended to us by our friends at Trinity Wall Street. They were unfailingly kind, friendly, and made us feel so welcome throughout the day. It was a treat to sing for Julian Wachner (as well as the other conductors), and, during the concert, he made special mention of his collaboration with our conductor Greg Funfgeld in programming the final concert. Thanks also to the huge support staff at Trinity, who were also magnificent in their hospitality. Trinity has archived webcasts of the 5:00 and 8:30 concerts on their website.
In the media:
NPR now has photos of the final concert up on their page about the event.
The Morning Call published a preview and a video on Thursday.
Choir member Emily Wilkins was quoted in a Newsday article about the heightened security in the city on Friday.
Sunday evening update: The Times has James Oestreich’s review of the day up, and he had some kind things to say about our performances.
Update, 9/13: Choir member Corliss Bachman has a wonderful remembrance of the day in a beautiful article on Patch. Be sure to look at the pictures!
Update, 9/16: Phil Metzger has a nice recollection of the day he spent with us in Manhattan. Paul Willstein of the Bethlehem Press also spent the day with the choir and has a beautiful article in that paper, which is not online.
I’m sure there will be much more to come, so stay tuned to the blog, and I’ll continue to collect links to articles here.