After 9/11: 'Rolling Requiem': A time for special reflection

The enormous concert calendar for Sept. 11 bespeaks the unique ability of music to bring people together in circumstances that are beyond words. What may surprise all of us is the extent to which great music is not only pulling together local performers and audiences in Sept. 11 memorials, but also resonating around the world.

The "Rolling Requiem" project, spearheaded by Seattle Symphony Chorale members, will bring people together on a previously unimagined global scale: 145 choirs from 40 states, 23 countries and 20 time zones will perform Mozart's Requiem at their local time of 8:46 a.m., the moment of the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. The outpouring of requests to join in, and the responses in the international media (including recent kudos in The Wall Street Journal), have outpaced even the highest expectations of the organizers.

Here in Seattle, where Gerard Schwarz will conduct the Mozart Requiem at 8:46 Sept. 11, there have been more than 5,000 requests (the number is steadily escalating) for free tickets to the event originally scheduled for the Paramount Theatre. Because there's not enough room at the Paramount, the local "Rolling Requiem" will roll into Safeco Field, which the Seattle Mariners have donated for the occasion.

The event will start at 8:15 with remarks and "The Star-Spangled Banner," followed by a moment of silence at 8:46 and then the Requiem. Mozart's brief and lovely "Ave Verum Corpus" will conclude the program. Free ticket reservations are available at Ticketmaster outlets or at www.ticketmaster.com; Ticketmaster has waived its usual fees for this event. Up to 20,000 people can be accommodated at Safeco at the "Rolling Requiem's" current level of funding; they're hoping more donors and contributors will come forward (donate at www.rollingrequiem.org).

Participating in the Safeco Field "Rolling Requiem" will be four top soloists: Terri Richter, Sarah Mattox, Vinson Cole and Julian Patrick, with members of the Seattle Symphony and Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras and the Seattle Symphony Chorale — the organization that started it all.

The Mozart Requiem, composed by one of the world's incomparable geniuses as he lay dying in 1791, is a powerful response to the inevitability of death and the hope of a hereafter, in which "perpetual light" shines upon the fallen. The work packs a tremendous impact in its emotional choruses, stately orchestral passages and soaring solos.

The Seattle "Rolling Requiem" will not be the only opportunity to hear Mozart. An Eastside "Rolling Requiem" brings together the Seattle Choral Company and the Bellevue Philharmonic Orchestra for a free Mozart Requiem performance from 8:30-9:30 a.m. in Bellevue Square (Center Court) in downtown Bellevue. No tickets are necessary. The conductor will be Seattle Choral Company founder Fred Coleman, with members of the Cascadian Chorale and the Bellevue Chamber Chorus participating.

Both "Rolling Requiem" performances — as, indeed, all the "Rolling Requiem" performances around the world — will have singers wearing heart-shaped badges, each bearing the name of one person who died in the terrorist attacks. The Eastside vocal soloists will be Lisa Rogers Lee, soprano; mezzo-soprano Sharon E. Buck; tenor Richard Barrett; and Norman Smith, bass. The event will be broadcast via Bellevue Television and Bellevue Community College, on BCC Channel 28 and BTV Channel 55/21.

The Eastside also hosts an evening musical tribute to the New York firefighters and rescue workers, at 7:30 Tuesday, Meydenbauer Theater, 11100 N.E. Sixth St., Bellevue. This ticketed event ($15, $20) is a fund-raiser for the New York Fallen Firefighters and Rescue Workers Fund. Baritone Phil Phillips will sing the national anthem; other performers include pianist Povilas Stravinsky (who holds a Ph.D. in piano performance from Moscow Tchaikovsky State Conservatory); violinist Art Tsaturian (graduate of the Armenian State Conservatory); cellist Olga Dolgaya (graduate of Moscow Musical College and Kharkov University of the Arts in Ukraine).

This trio will be assisted by violist Andrea Schuler and bassist Bryce Van Parys in Schubert's beloved "Trout" Quintet; works of Franck and Debussy also are on the program. For ticket information, call 206-325-6500.

Another Mozart Requiem, this time with George Shangrow conducting the Seattle Chamber Singers and Orchestra Seattle, is the culmination of a daylong Town Hall event called "9/11: One Year After." Beginning just after the completion of the Seattle "Rolling Requiem," Town Hall will host a community-wide commemoration from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 11, with free coffee and pastries. The programming starts with the Henry Art Gallery's images of pre-Sept. 11 New York.

Among the performers during the daylong event: Claire Garabedian, cellist; Michael Wood, author; Opus 7, vocal group; Leeng'it Kus'ti Dancer's Association (Tlingit); Paul Taub, flute; Emily Warn, poet; Seattle Peace Chorus; Jovino Santos Neto, piano; Hugo House Scribes (young writers); Mary Sherhart and Friends, Balkan songs; Munir Beken, Turkish oud; Roberta Downey, cello; Molly Knight, piano; and City Cantabile Choir.

Town Hall also will intersperse dialogues called "Among Friends" among the performances, as commentary and reflection upon the events of Sept. 11 and their aftermath.

Columnists, pastors, writers and political figures (including former Seattle Mayor Paul Schell and city Councilman Jim Compton) will appear; a "conversation cafe" in the Town Hall lobby also will allow those attending an opportunity to discuss the issues. The lobby will house a memorial book, in which all attendees may write their own observations.

All the Town Hall Sept. 11 events are free to the public. For more information, consult www.townhallseattle.org.

An additional chance to hear a Seattle Rolling Requiem performance: The Seattle Bach Choir with the Boeing Employees Choir will present the Mozart Requiem at 8 p.m. Wednesday at University Christian Church, 15th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 50th Street, Seattle.

Two more requiems, besides that of Mozart, have an important place in local Sept. 11 programming. At St. James Cathedral, it is the Requiem of French composer Maurice Duruflé that is the culmination of a week of free musical/religious services and public forums on the subject of the terrorist attacks. (The year 2002 marks the centenary of Duruflé's birth.) Three ensembles — Seattle Pro Musica, Opus 7 and the Cathedral Choir of St. James — perform the Duruflé Requiem in its intended setting as a Mass for the dead, with the Very Rev. Michael G. Ryan presiding, and James Savage conducting. The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. (Seattle Pro Musica also is releasing a new CD, "Peace in Our Time," recorded at St. James in May.)

Earlier 11 that day, Archbishop Alex Brunett presides over a memorial Mass with the Schola Cantorum Youth Choir participating, at 12:10 p.m. A forum called "Paths to Peace: Grief, Forgiveness and Reconciliation" is set for 7:30 p.m. Sept. 10, with panelists including Seattle School Superintendent Joseph Olchefske, grief specialist Judy Knight and former Chief of Police Pat Fitzsimons. They'll speak in Cathedral Place Hall, on the corner of Terry Avenue and Columbia Street.

St. James Cathedral is between Columbia and Marion streets on Ninth Avenue. For information, consult www.stjames-cathedral.org or call 206-622-3559.

At Benaroya Hall, a brand-new American Requiem by local composer Laurence Berteig (with co-composer Jonathon Lugo) will receive three performances, with Berteig conducting the Northwest Sinfonia (composed mainly of Seattle Symphony instrumentalists) and a 50-voice auditioned chorus. Soloists include mezzo-soprano Robynne Redmon and baritone Jubilant Sykes.

The three performances start at noon (sold out), 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. in Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle. All three are fund-raisers for World Vision International and the Washington State Council of Firefighters (tickets are $10-$35, at Ticketmaster outlets, 206-628-0888).

The American Requiem, composed to texts in both English and Latin, contains elements of several musical styles, including gospel, and is also a multimedia presentation (visual elements, including footage of the Sept. 11 disasters, will be shown on a screen). Berteig says, "The music moves us through our feelings of shock, sorrow, anger, bewilderment and finally our hope for the future."

Melinda Bargreen: mbargreen@seattletimes.com.