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Chapel at St. Lawrence University holds concert to remember and reflect.


CANTON — Sunlight flooded through stained glass windows at the Gunnison Memorial Chapel at St. Lawrence University on Wednesday evening, as people poured in to “remember and reflect,” on the anniversary of September 11.

“On September 11, 2001, over 800 of us gathered in this very chapel,” Kathleen Buckley, university chaplain said in an opening speech. “We spilled out into the night overwhelmed with shock and grief. We gathered because we needed each other. We needed to touch, lift and love. We needed to be with other people to find comfort and hope. That night we prayed for peace.”

Twelve years later, Sondra Goldsmith Proctor, musician in residence at the chapel, organized a “Coming Together: A Time of Remembrance and Reflection” concert in memory of the tragic events that took so many lives.

An open sing of Gloria by Antonio Vivaldi was performed by Northern Lights Orchestra and St. Lawrence University String Orchestra, conducted by Ms. Goldsmith Proctor.

Ms. Goldsmith Proctor said she picked the Vivaldi piece because she felt they “needed something with joy in it.”

The concert was made possible through a grant from Corning Incorporated in Canton and included a main chorus that featured solos by Julia R. Pomainville, mezzo-soprano, and Alexandra Jacobs Wilke, soprano.

Ms. Goldsmith Proctor also performed In Memoriam by Herman Berlinski on the organ.

When the four planes crashed, stealing over 3,000 lives and the entire world’s attention, Ms. Goldsmith Proctor was living in Washington D.C. as music director for Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ in Bethesda, MD.

She said she opened the doors of the church that day as a place of refuge and peace for people to come.

“I felt that it was important to come together, to be a community,” she said. “People just came and starting at 10 a.m. the church filled and I played the organ.”

Ms. Goldsmith Proctor said she would play for 50 minutes, take a 10 minute break then start playing again.

“I played Bach and some Mendelssohn, but mostly Bach because it’s the most soothing,” she said. “Especially after the Pentagon was hit, people were foundering and didn’t know where to go.”

Ms. Goldsmith Proctor said it was an emotional experience to see the church full of people wondering what was happening.

“The unknown is the frightening thing, but the people came together and they just needed to be together,” she said.

Christian Hosmer, the conductor for both orchestras, played the cello during the concert.

“We’re all doing it with a purpose in mind, remembering the events and not forgetting about them,” he said. “I grew up in New York City so it was pretty personal to me, although I lived up here when it happened.”

Theresa M. O’Reilly, Potsdam, is the administrative secretary for the library at St. Lawrence who follows the Northern Lights Orchestra.

“I was at work when my daughter called me very upset,” Theresa M. O’Reilly, Potsdam, said while remembering that day 12 years ago. “When I heard, I ran out, got my boss and we put the news on the big screen.”

It was an emotional experience for some orchestra members as well.

“There were a lot of tears when we rehearsed Monday night,” Ms. Proctor said.

Ms. Goldsmith Proctor said she organized a similar concert for the tenth anniversary of 9/11 as well, and felt the need to do it again this year, and said they will probably hold another concert on the fifteenth anniversary.

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