Choral performance of Mozart’s Requiem will mark September 11 anniversary
on September 8, 2011
During a day of national remembrance for the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, on Sunday the Oakland Symphony Chorus and the Oakland Civic Orchestra will perform Mozart’s Requiem at the Cathedral of Christ the Light near Lake Merritt. Part of a nationwide event called “Looking Back, Moving Forward,” this performance of the Requiem will be one of many taking place on the same day across the country. Mayor Jean Quan and representatives of Oakland’s sister cities will be in attendance.
Sunday’s performance will not be the first time that Mozart’s Requiem has been used to mark the anniversary of September 11. Shortly after the attacks, said Lynne Morrow, the Oakland Symphony Chorus’ music director, choral groups around the world participated in an international “rolling Requiem,” singing parts of the composition at varying times and from different time zones. The piece has been used by choral groups to commemorate the anniversary of the attacks ever since.
“Choral groups have been doing this for some time,” said Morrow. “This year, we really wanted to be involved.”
Like the works of many composers of his day, Mozart’s Requiem was commissioned by a wealthy aristocrat to be performed during a funeral mass. Completed in 1791, the piece is today considered one of the most celebrated compositions in all choral music, but it is also one of the most mysterious. Mozart died before it was finished, and parts of the final manuscript are assumed to be written by his students and assistants; scholars have debated which parts were written by Mozart and which were not ever since.
Morrow says the Requiem’s association with Mozart’s own death underscores its somber meaning. “That it’s the last piece he wrote, that he wrote it on his deathbed, is associated with any of its performances after a tragedy, like 9/11,” she said.
Morrow says the Requiem holds a special meaning for her as well, particularly on the anniversary of September 11. A professor at Sonoma State University, she had joined the university’s chorus as an alto soprano shortly before the attacks. Joining the rolling Requiem was her first performance with the group.
Sunday’s free event will be held at 5:30 at the Cathedral of Christ the Light at 2121 Harrison Street in Oakland. Singers from the community are invited to bring their own scores and join the chorus. The event will conclude with a moment of silence and flower laying in the cathedral’s courtyard, led by Oakland Fire and Police Chaplain Father Jayson Landeza.
“I really want to encourage people to come,” Morrow said. “It’s a community event. You don’t have to dress in a particular way. You can just come and really experience the power of this music.”
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