Boy, that sounds cynical. And it’s 9/12 today, so what’s the point of writing yet another post about how yet another person never will forget 9/11 and remembers exactly where he/she was when everything happened?
Of course I thought about 9/11 multiple times during the day – if you were on the internet, had the TV or the radio on, you couldn’t help but being reminded of the day. Plus I was singing the alto solo in Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace last night with the Menomonee Falls Symphony at the Basilica, and the piece has a very strong anti-war message. So in my mental preparation for the piece, I thought of how I was going to bring my feelings about war into my interpretation.
I find it difficult to sit still on stage. Suddenly everything begins to itch. It didn’t help that I bought a new dress and didn’t realize till I was sitting on stage that if I dropped my head even slightly, it brought the tag into direct contact with my back. And I had to sit there through 7 movements – I was singing in movements 8, 11 and 13.
In movement 7, the chorus sings a charge to battle. It’s powerful music – very rhythmic, utilizing all the forces of the orchestra and chorus. But at one point, the chorus begins to scream – cries of anguish crescendoing along with the orchestra and then stopping abruptly. 30 seconds of silence follow, and then a trumpet solo rings out, unaccompanied. The strings come back in with a sustained, dissonant line, joined the tolling of bells, and the low strings playing a foreboding melody.
It was the screaming that got me. All I could think of was when the towers came down on 9/11, and you saw the people outside running away from the smoke and debris, and heard the screaming. And it was just like that. I’m sure my face gave away all my emotions – it was so visceral for me, and I’m sure for the audience as well. Getting up to sing the 8th movement, with text written by a survivor of Hiroshima – “Pushing up through smoke – in a world of darkness with overhanging cloud….” was heart-wrenching.
The section starts at 4:40 on this video. (I find it interesting that this is a Slovenian group performing the piece – my father is from Slovenia, and I don’t find a lot of Slovenian performances on You Tube. )