The Shot Chord Heard Round the World!
September 10, 2002 10:44 AM   Subscribe

The Shot Chord Heard Round the World! On the morning of Nine Eleven 2002 at 8:46am, over 160 choirs across the world will sing Mozart's "Requiem" to metaphorically stand in for the thousands of voices silenced a year ago. Among all the ideas I've heard to commemorate this occasion, this one seems the most dignified, and least cringeworthy. They mentioned it on NPR's Morning Edition (caution: Real Audio file).
posted by ZachsMind (33 comments total)
That's quite a piece to be singing at 8:46am. But, I guess the Confutatis will get you going better than any coffee.

I've always considered the Lacrimosa from Mozart to be the most expressive piece of music to come out of his time. It's probably the saddest thing I've ever heard.
posted by thanotopsis at 10:54 AM on September 10, 2002

Mozart died before he could finish what could have been his greatest work. A great choice to represent all the potential cut short a year ago.
posted by ColdChef at 10:59 AM on September 10, 2002

Good thing they didn't pick Verdi's.

This is good. I'd definitely like to see a video montage of the performances.
posted by mblandi at 11:17 AM on September 10, 2002

rolling requiem - i know it's mentioned in the article but it's not hyperlinked. i hate that 8-)
posted by t r a c y at 11:52 AM on September 10, 2002

At this point I feel like it's all cringeworthy. I'm sorry; I suffered terribly last September, like a lot of other people. But enough; let's just move on, keep our eyes clear and drop all the extravagant suffering/healing/whatever.

I don't really know what people think we're accomplishing with all of it, this laborious pathos, but most of what I see coming from it is a lot of A) programmed feelings and B) a specific new vocabulary of self-righteous cant. Enough.
posted by argybarg at 11:56 AM on September 10, 2002

Sounds to me somebody needs a hug. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 11:58 AM on September 10, 2002

I don't want a hug. Gimme a ham sandwich!
posted by argybarg at 12:04 PM on September 10, 2002

I just went to get Blimpies for the gang in my office, man! You shoulda spoke up sooner!
posted by ZachsMind at 12:12 PM on September 10, 2002

I'm with argybarg on this one. I think that this goes above and beyond the cringeworty, verging on parodic . . . seriously, could this idea be any more pompous or self-important? What if we all spell out "911" in candles across the continent and take a picture of it from space?
posted by mikrophon at 12:37 PM on September 10, 2002

"Cringeworty," indeed. Like my typing?
posted by mikrophon at 12:38 PM on September 10, 2002

Will those wacky American Idol kids participate too?
posted by Stan Chin at 12:43 PM on September 10, 2002

Good thing they didn't pick Verdi's.

Well, I'm not sure whether I'd feel good about singing 'When the damned are confounded amid the acrid flames, summon me with the blessed...' on this of all anniversaries. I know that it's only half the story, but it's a bit too... close.
posted by riviera at 1:33 PM on September 10, 2002

I have to disagree with those who find it "cringeworthy": as mentioned above, the music is eloquent and moving and meant to lament loss and ending; it is indeed unfinished, much like the lives of those lost, along with the larger sadness of a world afllicted; neither the piece nor the groups presenting it are particularly colored by any blatant nationalistic associations, and honestly, when compared to things like "Access Hollywood"'s 9/11 retrospective, or "Frasier" and the Concert for America, or any of the numerous other frightening paens to entertainment's exploitation of this, the Rolling Requiem seems both dignified and inspired.
posted by ltracey at 2:14 PM on September 10, 2002

when i hear the requiem from lacrimosa, i think of the big lebowski. sorry.

but seriously, folks. i'd be more than happy to participate in the year anniversary activities if i didn't feel like i had done so for 364 consecutive days.

nah mean?
posted by oog at 2:14 PM on September 10, 2002

Speaking of hugs...
9-11 falls on a Wednesday and therefore HugNation.

Official hug @ 6pm Pacific. But I urge you to send out hugs
all day.
posted by halcyon at 2:24 PM on September 10, 2002

oh. lord.
posted by zarah at 2:36 PM on September 10, 2002

ColdChef brings up a good point: I wonder whether all the choirs will be singing the same version? There is a long established tradition of singing the version supposedly completed by his student, Süssmayr, but there's no shortage of other versions out there.

I believe the sentiment behind this gesture is genuine, and although I believe there may be "better" or "more appropriate" works to sing, I realize this one was probably chosen for logistical reasons as well as aesthetic. You'll find a lot more choirs who have Mozart's Requiem in their repertoire than, say, 20th century composer John Tavener's Song for Athene.

I'm just thankful they didn't choose that song from the Titanic film.
posted by scribblative at 2:36 PM on September 10, 2002

This isn't "Hands Across America." It's a fitting tribute not only to those touched by the events of Nine Eleven, but it's also a fitting use of the work of Mozart. This piece was destined to be used in this manner. Mozart wrote it while dying. Who better to lead the world through something like this, than the greatest music artist of our history, to ring in the emotional tempest that is this day? Everything from apathy to anxiety. Loss to love. Mozart went though it all as he wrote this work. It's like Virgil leading Dante.

Believe me I find a LOT cringeworthy about NINE ELEVEN PART DEUX the sequel, but this idea's cool.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:39 PM on September 10, 2002

Zach: Amadeus wasn't a documentary.
posted by riviera at 2:54 PM on September 10, 2002

Riviera, my knowledge of art history goes a wee bit past cheesy films. I studied for a BFA in college.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:42 PM on September 10, 2002

..I didn't git it, but I studied for it. =P
posted by ZachsMind at 3:43 PM on September 10, 2002

I find The Requiem to a beautiful, moving piece. It is not some shoddy pop song that can be memorized in 5 minutes. While I am usually anti-tribute, this seems like a fine antidote to the glut of artificial patriotic frenzy to be celebrated on The Day. My only regret is I am not affiliated with a professional choir at the moment.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:19 PM on September 10, 2002

* y a w n *
posted by sic at 4:47 PM on September 10, 2002

I like this idea too. It is sufficiently non-obvious to be considered creative, and highbrow enough to be worthwhile on its own merits. I mean, I'd wager that most people have never even heard this piece performed; now there will be more than 160 chances to do so.
posted by kindall at 5:26 PM on September 10, 2002

A collective of Honolulu's choir groups is coming together for the now second-to-last time zone on the Requiem's world tour. (Samoa squeaked in to wrap up the globe.) I wish I could be there, but I have to work... just like last year.

I'm of two minds about commemorative activities. I was rolling my eyes over all the flag waving the month after the attacks - not that I'm not patriotic, but I felt that it glossed over so many other important things. I think it still does. Tomorrow, my daughter's preschool is joining a dozen other schools to form an American flag of kids on a stadium football field, so she's staying home.

On the other hand, I'm probably the only person who is not swearing off television, or lamenting the extensive news coverage, or hoping to avoid sadness or uncomfortable thoughts tomorrow. Because while the country seemed to rebound incredibly quickly, I don't really believe it. I think we've tried too hard to forget. The sentiments that we should "get over it," that "life goes on," or the complaint that "we're sick of hearing about it" have a dark side.

We're still not "over" a number of other incredible tragedies. Why is commemorating this one, the freshest one, somehow the least palatable for some?

While the networks will overpackage some tributes, while businesses will try to reap profits from others, while flag waving and God praising will, as ever, provide cover for some wrongs, I don't fault anyone for wanting to do something to mark the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2002.

The "Rolling Requiem" sounds like a beautiful idea to me, in part because communities are behind it, not sponsors.
posted by pzarquon at 6:04 PM on September 10, 2002

I meant 2001, of course.

P.S. In Hawaii, Sept. 11 was a date of remembrance even before last year's terrorist attacks.
posted by pzarquon at 6:06 PM on September 10, 2002

"I think we've tried too hard to forget.."

Some have done that. Others have tried too hard to never forget. I generally believe in moderation. I think there's a happy medium somewhere and we'll probably find it in a few, oh gee I dunno, centuries perhaps. This is the first time that a deliberate attack on the mainland from foreign interests has occurred. After Pearl Harbor, there were concerns that New York or Los Angeles were next, but back then they simply couldn't hit us there. Even a year ago the only way a foreign enemy could attack us was by using our own airplanes. They had to hit us below the belt to even touch us.

"...sounds like a beautiful idea to me, in part because communities are behind it, not sponsors."

I think ultimately that's why I like this one. It's not something the media's trying to stuff down our throats or something the executive branch is trying to slip by the legislative and judicial branches. It's just fellow Americans with talented voices hoping to symbolically pinch hit for those who no longer have a voice. It's a good idea.

Maybe a little self-serving, but after all what is mourning? We don't mourn to make things easier on those already dead. I mean, they're dead. How is our mourning for them going to make any difference to them?

Mourning is for the living. It is self-serving. This Rolling Requiem is perhaps the most honest offering, and I for one applaud it. I'm hoping to get up early enough tomorrow morning to make it to the Bell Sisters in downtown Dallas. If I can't get there physically, I'll at least be with them in spirit.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:30 PM on September 10, 2002

"It's just fellow Americans..."

Heck! What was I saying! It's fellow human beings on this planet! All around the world! My words fall short of the potential of this. I think those who diss this one just have gotten too cynical. Make no mistake, I excrete cynicism daily, but I also hold some hope for the human race, and little things like this feed that hope. I'm a cynical, yet hopeful, romantic at heart.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:35 PM on September 10, 2002

You'll find a lot more choirs who have Mozart's Requiem in their repertoire than, say, 20th century composer John Tavener's Song for Athene
Sadly, not since the cheesy Dianafest 5 years ago...
posted by monkey closet at 1:16 AM on September 11, 2002

ah - too true... you're right, monkey closet. Maybe I should have picked a better example. There's also Funeral Ikos (though it always makes me cry).
posted by scribblative at 1:43 AM on September 11, 2002

Tavener's doing well on the big memorials - Funeral Ikos was used at the Westminster Abbey service to commemorate lasy year's events...
posted by monkey closet at 2:59 AM on September 11, 2002

my knowledge of art history goes a wee bit past cheesy films

Fie on thee, Zachary! Off-hand dismissals of Amadeus as 'cheesy' cannot stand!

"Mediocrities everywhere, I absolve you..."
posted by rory at 4:20 AM on September 11, 2002

I just came back from the performance this morning by "the Bell Singers" who were the only choral group in Dallas to even attempt the Rolling Requiem. They couldn't perform the entire thing. They had only had time to rehearse the opening two movements, but the important thing was they made an effort, and it was a touching performance. It was a small intimate gathering at the lobby of one of the tallest buildings in downtown, by a group of dedicated amateurs who normally do Christmas carols. It was sweet. A bit too overboard with the patriotic red white & blue perhaps but what they lacked in numbers they more than made up for in spirit.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:37 AM on September 11, 2002

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