By Hannah Reimann
9/11 Memorial Concert
September 11, 2019
Schiller Institute NYC Chorus
St. Veronica Creative Cultural Center
The Schiller Institute NYC Chorus, its leaders and community strive to elevate the culture of the United States “by engaging the population in the performance of great Classical music.” They do this by including both professional and amateur singers to present known and lesser-known repertoire in various boroughs of New York City with chapters of the chorus in northern New Jersey, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.
A poultice to loss and mourning, the chorus has dedicated concerts to 9/11 and to Eric Garner, among others, since 2014. This makes it an unusual and exceptional ensemble with ideals leading its performances.
The Institute’s 9/11 Memorial Concert last month included rich African-American Spirituals by Johnson, Burleigh, Dett and Dawson, Schubert’s Mass in G, Brahms’s Nänie and an abridged version of JS Bach’s heart-wrenching Jesu meine Freude. Right after the intermission, pianist Yuting Zhou skillfully executed Beethoven’s “Tempest” piano sonata on an electronic keyboard.
Most notable were solos in the Classical works by singers Frank Mathis, Michelle Erin and Christopher Sare. With great feeling and mastery, Tenor Everett Suttle delivered two of Johnson’s spirituals, Jesus, Lay Your Head in de Winder and Honor, Honor.
The full chorus sang a Spiritual finale, Soon Ah Will Be Done, a somber yet triumphant work with lyrics accepting life’s challenges. This was the highlight of the evening, a perfect anthem to inspire an audience in healing from the aftermath and memory of 9/11. The chorus sang with intense passion, expression and great observation to its dynamic peaks and valleys under the sensitive baton of Diane Sare, bringing the audience to its feet at the final major chord. “No more weepin’ and a wailin,’ I’m gone to live with God.”