- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 25, 2001


''This is a concert we never wanted to give, but we had to," Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser said last night at the beginning of a moving musical tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist hijackings.

First lady Laura Bush told the audience, "Music has been called the speech of angels, and it brings special comfort to our nation."

Approximately 600 family members of those who died in the attack on the Pentagon helped fill the Kennedy Center Concert Hall for the "Concert for America," an evening that started with the National Symphony Orchestra playing "The Star-Spangled Banner" and with the Billy Taylor Trio offering a spirited "I Wish I knew How It would Feel to Be Free."

Although there was no charge for the nearly two-hour performance, those attending were invited to make donations to the United Way Sept. 11 Fund. Kennedy Center estimated the audience at 5,500, including those who watched the concert on three screens set up elsewhere in the center.

The program was diverse and sought to console in different ways. Soprano Ainhoa Artet, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and bass Simone Alberghini sang from the Washington Opera's "Cosi Fan Tutte" and were followed by tenor Julian Gavin and baritone Dwayne Croft doing a duet from "Don Carlos." Soprano Harolyn Blackwell sang "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," and told the audience, "In this time of sorrow, I wanted to sing this spiritual to remind each of us that he does have the whole world in his hands."

The Men & Women of the Gospel Mass Choir of the Washington Performing Arts Society brought the audience to its feet with a rousing rendition of "Amazing Grace." "America, the Beautiful," performed by the Cathedral Choral Society, the Choral Arts Society of Washington and the Washington Chorus, touched the audience and prompted it to sing along.

Then there was Sameul Barber's Adagio for Strings, which NSO conductor Leonard Slatkin called our country's "song of grief," and Grammy-winning Mary Chapin Carpenter's haunted singing of "Ten Thousand Miles." Other numbers included flutist James Galway's "Memory" from the Lyric Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, "Pie Jesu," from "Requiem" by soprano Linda Hohenfeld and "Kaddish" from "Two Hebrew Melodies" by mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade. In closing many of them joined together to perform "Resurrection" from Movement Five, Symphony No. 2 by Mahler.

The concert will be air at 9 p.m. Friday on WETA (Channel 26).

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