The Power of Song

I’m on the Carnegie Hall weekly events list. Last week’s email announced a Community Sing of Mozart’s Requiem, to commemorate the fifth anniversary of 9/11. That immediately became a priority for me to attend.

Some background: The Saturday after 9/11 was our choral retreat. We were rehearsing the Brahms Requiem at the time, and Vance, our conductor, wisely let us sing it all the way through without stopping as our method of mourning. It was a powerful experience as we shared that moment together. The concert was three weeks later, and it was one of the most amazing performances I have been part of. We were inspired, spirit and mind and body all fusing together to pour out our message of awe and sorrow and finally joy (“Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord”). It was the best memorial we knew how to give, and I think it was a worthy one.

So the idea of participating in a community sing to commemorate 9/11 greatly appealed to me. The Juilliard School collaborated with Carnegie Hall to make this happen. My parents volunteered to wait in line to get tickets and to save a good seat for me coming from work, which worked out wonderfully as we were in about the tenth row. The Juilliard orchestra and Choral Union were great, the soloists were excellent, and the audience was surprisingly good. We sang it straight through, and I did relatively well considering it had been five years since I last performed it.

But the best part was just being there. People lined up literally around the block to be part of this experience. New Yorkers came together, even in the middle of a weekday, to pay tribute and homage to that day, in the best way they knew how, by making music together. I was quoted once as saying “There’s this feeling you get at performance. Everyone breathes as one, sings as one. It’s magical.” That’s the feeling I had again today. It didn’t matter who we were outside of that hall. We sang together, we created this moment together, and that was what mattered.

P.S. It was also nice to get complemented by other singers after the performance. Two of them told me I rocked, and when they found out I wasn’t currently in a chorus, tried to recruit me to the Collegiate Chorale, which looks like a great group if I had any free time whatsoever. I was surprised to realize just how much I missed singing. I got the big goofy smile on my face several times throughout the performance as I listened to the intricate complexites of Mozart’s composition. And the sheer joy of blasting through wonderful music together is something I’ve missed. I’ll have to see how my first term of classes go before I can commit to a chorus, though.

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