Concert for New York

September 11th, 2011 § 1 comment

Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center

The L train is not running this weekend, so I walked west across 14th Street instead of catching the train. It took a few blocks for me to realize that I was retracing, backwards, the journey my sister and I took on 9/11. It hit me when I passed Beth Israel Hospital. I can still bring to mind the image of men and women in scrubs, face masks pulled low on their faces, waiting for the injured to arrive.

This anniversary brings with it some reliving of the events of 2001, and while it is painful to revisit these memories there is some cathartic release in this visit.

Last night, I went to the Concert for New York, a gift from the New York Philharmonic to the people of NYC on the eve of the tenth anniversary of September 11. The performance was Mahler’s Resurrection – a piece filled with the horror and anguish of death, the pain and heaviness of profound sadness, the quiet beginnings of new life and finally the joyous crescendo of resurrection.

There we sat, shoulder to shoulder: firefighters, police, social workers, psychologists, teachers, residents, survivors, cultural workers and family members of the dead. I saw couples reach for each other’s hands during some of the painful sections. Members of the audience wept when the chorus ever so softly began to sing the resurrection. Ever so slowly the voices of the chorus rose, eventually filling the space with a glorious sound.

Out of the ashes I will rise.

And so it was.

We sat on the precipice of the tenth anniversary filled with the strength of sound, knowing that despite the tragedy of 2001, personally and as a city we were all in a process of rebirth.

At the end of the performance, we stood and we clapped, and we clapped, and we didn’t stop clapping.

We clapped with wet tissues in our hands, with tears in our eyes and with smiles on our faces.  In that clapping was a profound release of grief, guilt, pain, hope, love and thanks.

We kept clapping and clapping and the performers bowed, left and returned to our applause more times than I was able to count. We clapped until they stood on stage with tears in their eyes. We clapped until our hands hurt and then we clapped some more so they would know how proud we were.

We clapped and held back tears until they welled up in our eyes and spilled onto our faces. We were, for the moment, as united in our joy as we were united in our shared tragedy just ten years ago. It was incredible.

I believe the performance will be aired on television tonight and if you can stand to watch one more 9/11 themed program I would recommend this one.

I wish I could share images from the inside of the concert hall, (or the sounds of that thunderous applause from within the concert hall) but cameras (and recorders) were prohibited past the plaza seating. Below are images of a collection of responses to a heading posed by the Philharmonic: How music helped us get through the days after 9/11. The responses are both incredibly personal and bittersweet.





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