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Returning to origin of 9/11

Portland Gay Men's Chorus - with LO ties - performs in NYC on 9/11
by: SUBMITTED PHOTO Lake Oswego’s Mark Kronquist was speaking at a convention in New York City when 9/11 happened 10 years ago. He walked all around Manhattan Island to get a perspective on what had happened. “Those of us on Manhattan were hearing wild rumors including that the Pentagon had been hit (true), the White House had been hit, the Space Needle and Sears Tower had been hit ... and so on. …. After I gave blood I grabbed my cameras and headed into hell. I have seen death before but I will never forget the smell, the ash coating everything and the eerie silence — a silence pierced only by the wailing sirens of emergency vehicles.”

Ten years ago, 1,000 Oregonians readily stepped up and boarded the Flight for Freedom to lend moral and economic support to New York City just three weeks after the devastation of 9/11. According to stories told by those who went on this original mission, the city welcomed Oregonians, who wore buttons reading 'Oregon loves New York City,' by acknowledging them publicly and sometimes even fighting over who would be given the honor of picking up Oregonians' meal tabs at restaurants.

This year, Portland businessman Sho Dozono, a major organizer of the original flight in 2001, is again making it happen and has invited the Portland Gay Men's Chorus to represent the city of Portland with a performance at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City on Sept. 11. Artistic director of the chorus is Bob Mensel, who is also director of music at Christ Church Episcopal Parish in Lake Oswego.

'It's exciting to go to New York, period, but all the more so to be there as part of these commemoration ceremonies across the city,' said Mensel. 'It's really cool that we are able to be there and show our solidarity with the city.'

The Portland choir has invited the New York Gay Men's Choir to join them for a part of the performance of 'BraveSouls and Dreamers,' a reflection upon the human and spiritual consequences of war, which was first commissioned by PGMC in 2007.

PGMC performed this piece in a benefit concert held Aug. 31 at Portland State University's Lincoln Hall. Featured performer was world-renowned opera singer Richard Zeller, who will also perform with the group at the New York concert.

Also traveling to New York, in tribute to PGMC, is Lake Oswego resident Julie Graham, a pediatric nurse.

'I just wanted to go,' said Graham. 'It's an emotional time and I just wanted to be part of it.'

After hearing the music of 'BraveSouls and Dreamers,' two of Graham's co-workers decided they also wanted to go with her and be a part of the 9/11 event.

'BraveSouls and Dreamers,' inspired by the words of such peacemakers as Gandhi, Jesus, Mother Teresa, Buddha, Jimmy Carter and the Dalai Lama, to name a few, is especially meaningful to those projecting its words, including choir member Art Anderson, a resident of Lake Oswego.

'It's a very unexpected honor and pleasure,' he says, 'as this music means so much to me, having lived through a lot of trouble in our time. I find it very difficult whenever we sing this to not shed tears.

'There is nothing more meaningful than to hear the words that are put to music. I was thinking it was very unfortunate that President Obama has all his other duties, because there is no question that ours will be much more real in connecting with people.'

The performance is the final gathering for the 2011 Flight for Freedom delegation and will close a day of reflection at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, where 10 years ago people from across the city gathered and came together.

At the Aug. 31 concert, Mensel told the audience, 'This is one of the most important missions PGMC has engaged in. It is in alignment with our mission of, among other things, affirming the worth of all people.'

For information on Portland Gay Men's Chorus, visit the website at www.pdxgmc.org.

George Fox choir will sing on 9/11 in NYC

Tyler Gresham and Nathan Pricer of West Linn are among members of the George Fox University Concert Choir, which has been selected to sing in New York City on Sept. 11 at 'A Concert of Commemoration,' a memorial event commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Forty students from the choir will travel to New York.

The choir will join eight other college choirs from throughout the nation, billed as Distinguished Concerts Singers International, to perform 'Memorial,' composed by Rene Clausen to honor the memory of those who lost their lives in the attacks. The concert will take place at 2 p.m. in the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts' Avery Fisher Hall. Clausen and composer Karl Jenkins will direct their composition pieces performed by the choir.

The choir received the invitation after event organizers saw a video of the choir singing 'Kyrie,' a portion of 'Memorial,' on YouTube. Readers may view a performance of the choir singing 'Kyrie' at http://blogs.georgefox.edu/life/?p=582.