9/11 Remembrance Concert, Central Park

 Peace of Heart Choir formed in response to the events of September 11, 2001. During this time of year we join with other New Yorkers to remember, connect and heal.

The sky was blue and the sun shone today—the same weather we had eleven years ago. Except that today’s air was fresher. A perfect day for our outdoor memorial concert. We gathered at Merchants' Gate, the Columbus Circle entrance to Central Park. Our Music Facilitator, René, set up his portable piano, and the Choir arranged themselves a few steps up, in front of the monument.

Our audience faced us from behind René; people of all ethnicities and ages (including a baby), some standing still to listen or sing along, some passing by on their way to somewhere, smiling in our direction as they walked. The policeman leaning on his van off to the side looked as if he wasn’t sure what was going on but liked what he was seeing and hearing. In any case, he let us be.

We opened with the South African hymn Siyahamba, which went off pretty well considering we learned only it a few days ago. Kudos to the choir! The audience sang along to the songs we thought they would—Down By the Riverside and This Land is Your Land—as well as to Od Yavo, Imagine, and Let There Be Peace On Earth.

This was an informal concert. There was background noise from the general public, and also drums from a group on the other side of the monument. Unphazed, we sang through it all, and the audience obviously enjoyed us. The noise also worked in our favor: we didn’t have to be perfect.

After the concert, several of us were approached by students from the Columbia School of Journalism, who had been assigned to come to Central Park specifically to report on us. Their questions were about how the Choir formed, what various members do in our “regular” lives, whether we knew anyone who had died in the attacks, and more. These were audio interviews (no video), and the students used the same equipment René uses to record our regular concerts, so he gave them pointers on the microphone. In a way it’s fitting that the Columbia students were there, because POHC was started eleven years ago by musicians from the Columbia School of Social Work. Afterward, a few of us went out to eat and then down to the Hudson River to view the memorial beams of light from Ground Zero, beams reaching high into the sky, way past where the towers did.

- Peace of Heart Alto

It has become a tradition for a member of POHC to do a post-concert write-up. It started when our 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.