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Musicians Organize Concerts for 9/11

A group of Seattle singers organizing a series of worldwide performances of Mozart’s “Requiem” for Sept. 11 say they have gotten thousands of e-mails in support of the idea.

“The heartfelt nature of their responses is remarkable,” said Madeline Johnson, chairwoman of the Rolling Requiem Committee and a member of the Seattle Symphony Chorale. “It shows there is a worldwide longing to give voice to healing, to hope, to love.”

Thirty choirs from around the world have signed up to take part in the “Rolling Requiem” and many more are considering joining, Johnson said.

A choir in Riga, Latvia, was among the first to respond, writing, “Not only will we sing in our country’s largest performance space, we are inviting choirs from all over our country to join us.”

A Boston choir responded that the invitation left some members in tears. A backer of the idea in Wales invited 200 Welsh choirs. A singing group in Taipei is organizing a network of Taiwanese choirs.

Each performance is to begin at 8:46 a.m. – the time of the first attack on the World Trade Center in New York – starting at the international date line and moving westward by time zone.

Organizers say a list of those who died in the attacks will be given to each choir, and each singer will make a heart badge with one of the names to wear.

The Seattle Symphony’s music director, Gerard Schwarz, will conduct the “Requiem” at the city’s Paramount Theater, leading about 50 orchestra members, a chorus of 120 and four soloists.

“As far as I’m concerned, nothing is more appropriate than a requiem, and there is no requiem more appropriate than the Mozart ‘Requiem,'” Schwarz said.

Jack McAuliffe, chief operating officer for the American Symphony Orchestra League, said many of the organization’s 900 member orchestras already had been planning commemorative concerts by the time he learned about the Rolling Requiem earlier this week. His group will poll members to see if they would like to join the effort.

The idea for the Rolling Requiem began with a suggestion from a music lover who bumped into Terry Blumer, a baritone with the Seattle Symphony Chorale, on the street in January after a performance by the group. The woman, whose name Blumer did not know, suggested that choruses form a ring around Ground Zero on Sept. 11 and sing Mozart’s “Requiem.”

“She said, ‘Surely there would be enough of you for there to be one voice for every loss,'” Blumer said this week.

A few members of the chorale formed a committee and decided to organize two even grander efforts. One was the Rolling Requiem. The other was to invite singers from around the world to commemorate the first anniversary of the attacks at each crash site – New York, the Pentagon ( news – web sites) and Somerset County, Pa.

Kathleen Ferrari, an alto in the chorale and one of the Rolling Requiem organizers, is the daughter of a retired New York City firefighter who lost six members of the Crown Heights ladder company he once led.

“It’s going to be very difficult,” Ferrari said. “Just thinking about it now makes me want to cry. I think with a lot of tissues and a lot of sniffling, we’ll get through it.”

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