Patrons searching for seats just before 6:30 p.m., Sunday found University Christian Church near-full capacity. They were gathering to remember 9/11 and out of respect for the occasion, the audience was asked to withhold applause until the end of the concert.
The 9/11 Memorial Concert was part of UCC’s Bell Tower Concert Series. It featured the University Christian Church Chancel Choir and the Arlington Master Chorale. The special event was free to the public.
Those in attendance entered the sanctuary and were greeted to “Hands of Hope,” an art exhibit that hung around the room. The exhibit consisted of paper “hands” with written messages of hope by the seminary children of UCC.
As the chatter subsided, a lone bagpiper, John Taber, began to march up and down the aisle, beautifully droning “Amazing Grace” to a silent crowd.
The pieces performed were all powerful in their own right. Barber’s Adagio For Strings, made famous by the movie Platoon, evoked the anguish and sorrow felt in times of great despair. Song For Athene, a piece commissioned in 1997, was written exclusively for the funeral of Princess Diana. In Remembrance, by Jeffrey Ames, was dedicated to his son, who died in a tragic accident years ago.
The featured piece of the night was Memorial, a special cantata by composer Rene Clausen, arranged specifically in remembrance of the events on Sept. 11, 2001. Its melodies were reflections of the events that day, indicative of the names of the first two movements: September Morning and The Attack. The mood, however, was deemphasized in the latter movements: Prayers and Petitions, highlighting the hope of an enduring nation.
As the orchestra played their final notes, and the concert made its last flourish, the performers were greeted to thunderous applause. On the anniversary of one of America’s darkest days, it was a fitting end to a beautiful tribute.