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America's New War: New York Philharmonic Plays to Ease Grief

Aired September 20, 2001 - 06:53   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: New Yorkers, as well as other Americans, are looking for a way to deal with their grief following last week's attacks.

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: The New York Philharmonic may provide some therapy in a broadcast concert tonight.

CNN's Beth Nissen explains how the orchestra decided on what music to play.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BETH NISSEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Like so many New Yorkers, the 106 musicians of the New York Philharmonic are back at work back in the U.S. The orchestra was performing in Germany last week, and only made it home this past weekend to a city partially destroyed and a world greatly changed.

The orchestra was supposed to be rehearsing for the opening night gala of their new season this week. Instead, they are preparing a memorial concert to be broadcast nationwide on PBS Thursday evening.

CARTER BREY, PRINCIPAL CELLIST: This is our contribution. We can't grab shovels and help dig out the rubble. For us to come back and be together and to play together is -- it's a very healing thing for all of us.

NISSEN: The New York Philharmonic will play a single work at the memorial concert: Brahms' "Requiem." Every member of the orchestra knows why the work was chosen.

BREY: It's a piece that deals with loss and death and the very human resistance against those things. But it also offers a very, very radiant vision of redemption and hope at the end.

NISSEN: Johannes Brahms used as his text passages from the Old and New Testament of the Bible -- powerful reassurances that the dead are now where no torment can touch them.

KURT MASUR, NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC CONDUCTOR: All those are in Heaven who had pain, is possible for us musicians, and sometimes to make life a little bit more beautiful.

NISSEN: The words, some in German, remind humans of how thread frail their lives are, how brief the measure of their days.

MASUR: Every day can be a gift of God. Whatever that you mean, and if it's a gift, you use it.

NISSEN: The gift of Brahms' "Requiem" is it's message in the universal language of music that while human lives can be extinguished, the human spirit never can.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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