The Mozart Requiem After 9/11

An SFBC singer remembers the Mozart Requiem and the first anniversary of 9/11

Karlyn Ward singer remembers the Mozart Requiem and the first anniversary of 9/11In January, 2002, the Seattle Symphony and Chorale performed the Mozart Requiem. Afterwards, a woman from the audience stopped one of the singers, telling the singer of an image that had come to her while listening: a performance of the Requiem by the country’s best choruses, standing around the perimeter of Ground Zero in New York, with enough singers so that each voice could represent one September 11 victim.

While they couldn’t arrange the performance the woman had suggested, the Chorale took the woman’s idea to heart and put out an invitation to choruses around the world. The choral community responded.

And so, on 9/11/2002–the first anniversary of 9/11–almost 200 choirs performed the Mozart Requiem. It started at the International Date Line in Auckland, New Zealand, at 8:46 a.m., the time the first plane hit the first of the Twin Towers. Each subsequent performance started at 8:26 a.m. local time, and performances continued around the world through 25 time zones, and across all 7 continents. It became known as the Rolling Requiem.

In the performance where I was a participant, each singer was handed a name tag with two images on it, a heart and the world. It also had a name: not the singer’s name, but the name of someone who died on 9/11. Each of us was singing for that one person, and for them all. Those name tags were later sent to the families. It was an incredibly powerful experience.

And for 24 hours, the musical energy of the Mozart Requiem circled the planet.

– Karlyn Ward, Alto
San Francisco Bach Choir