Story last updated at 12:23 p.m. Friday, September 6, 2002

'Rolling Requiem' puts Homer on global Sept. 11 map
by Mark Kelsey
Staff Writer

As the country gets ready to mark the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a group of mostly Homer musicians is preparing a memorial that will put them in league with musicians around the globe.

Homer High School choral director Mark Robinson will lead a choir, a portion of the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra and four soloists in a reprise performance of Mozart's "Requiem" that will begin Wednesday at 8:46 a.m., the time the first plane slammed into New York City's World Trade Center. The performance is part of a so-called "Rolling Requiem," which will see the well-known choral piece performed continuously for 24 hours, at 8:46 a.m. in each of the planet's time zones.

"We're part of something that is international," Robinson said. "There are people all over the world who are sharing in precisely the same thing. I think it's just marvelous."

Robinson led a group of more than 200 musicians from all over the Kenai Peninsula in two April performances of the piece, which was written as a funeral mass. Robinson said he had not planned on adding to his already busy schedule, but when the opportunity to be a part of the "Rolling Requiem" came around, there was no doubt about being a part of it, especially considering that no other group in Alaska had signed on.

"It was just a no-brainer. It's a privilege to do this work on that day. I'm thrilled that we are the only ones (in Alaska), at this time, doing it," Robinson said over the weekend. "For me, personally, it is the best way to honor the memory of those who have died, and to spend that morning in solemn consideration of what those deaths mean."

Robinson said he hopes that people involved, as well as those attending, will see it as a positive experience that "brings healing" to the aftermath of Sept. 11.

"(The "Requiem" was) written to honor the dead. It's a communal playing and listening to some of the most beautiful music ever written," he said. "The venue is there for people to reflect and honor in a very positive way for an hour."

The idea for the "Rolling Requiem" got started by a suggestion after a January performance of the piece by the Seattle Symphony. It has blossomed from that into a worldwide commemoration of the Sept. 11 attacks, which will begin west of the international dateline in New Zealand and the Philippines and proceed westward from there.

All participating choir members, including those in Homer, will wear a badge with the name of one of the Sept. 11 victims on it.

"This is going to be powerful," Robinson said of the wearing of individual names. "I think in some ways it's going to be hard, and maybe difficult to maintain composure."

Kenai Peninsula Orchestra manager and choir member Laura Norton, who is assisting with the organization of the event, agreed. She lost a college friend in the attacks and will wear his name during Wednesday's performance.

"I certainly have thought about him more in the last week and a half," Norton said. "(Wearing his name) will give me a focus I wouldn't otherwise have had."

The attacks hit very close to home for Norton, who has a sister who flies out of Boston regularly, a brother who lives near the World Trade Center and two brothers who live near Washington, D.C. -- one of whom was scheduled to be in the Pentagon later in the day on Sept. 11.

She said the worldwide singing of the "Requiem" on the anniversary of the attacks has the potential to be transforming.

"My hope for it is that it can be a vehicle of unity toward peace rather than the continued escalation of warfare," she said.

Wednesday's performance of the "Requiem" will be open to the public free of charge, although donations will be accepted to help offset production expenses. Donations in excess of expenses will be given to the United Way's September 11 Fund.

Depending on audience turnout, the performance will take place at Homer High in either the Mariner Theatre or the gymnasium.

Since Wednesday is a school day and parking may be a problem, those interested in attending the 8:46 a.m. performance should arrive early.

Mark Kelsey can be reached at