At UJA-Federation of New York

This morning, we sang the first of our 9/11 concerts at the UJA-Federation of New York.  Everyone was in their "Sunday best" and in high spirits. We warmed up in a posh board room with a buffet of muffins and urns of coffee and tea, then went into the “overflow room” to hear Larry Silverstein’s address on two huge TV screens. (The plan had been for us to go into the main room before his speech, sit in the back, then sing as soon as he finished. But he started his speech earlier than expected, and we weren’t supposed to walk into the main room while he was talking--that’s why we were in the overflow room.) After his speech, the audience was asked to share with their neighbors their memories of 9/11. We entered the main room while they were talking, and sat in the back until they finished--about five or ten minutes.

Now it was our turn. We arranged ourselves in front of the room, folders closed and in our left hand. Then our own Larry ascended the podium that Larry Silverstein had just left, and addressed the audience of elegantly dressed men and women--several hundred, by my eye-ball estimate. He introduced the choir, told how we formed and what we do, told his own 9/11 story, and spoke of the significance of the month before Rosh Hashanah in the Jewish calendar. Then he told a bit about the significance of each of the three songs we would be singing: Bright Morning Star, Od Yavo, and Let There Be Peace On Earth. He said we would be singing them one right after another and asked that applause be held until the end. Great speech, Larry! Just the right length and tone for the event – and just the right amount of vintage-Larry humor.

Bright Morning Star was the perfect starter, matching the audience’s reflective mood. They listened raptly, all eyes on the Choir. Od Yavo was second. We did speed up, but not nearly as much as we usually do. René turned to the audience and invited them to join in. Many did. We closed with Let There Be Peace, and then the applause came. We had to leave quickly, because the next speaker was already ascending the podium. As we were walking out, some people told us how much they enjoyed our performance. And outside in the hall, one older man in a yarmulke (most of the men there were wearing yarmulkes), came up to me and said, “That was beautiful. Just beautiful.”

At most of our concerts, we are the main event. Here we were one item on a program of remembrance, and we were perfectly in tune with them. Kudos to the POHC!

- Peace of Heart Member and Sign-up Coordinator

It has become a tradition for a member of POHC to do a post-concert write-up. It started when Sign-up Coordinator began emailing her summaries to the other members in order to entice newer members to sign-up to sing at community concerts held early in the season. It didn't take long for Concert Write-ups to become greatly anticipated amongst our members, so we share them here in hopes that you'll join us at a future concert.