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Shadow Tides, 9/11 at 4 o'clock, National Presbyterian Church
From the 9/11 concert program notes by Gary Davison ...
Writing a commemorative piece for an event such as the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 is a daunting task. What more is there to say ten years on.... and why? After a long and arduous quest, the answer to those questions finally came to me quite unexpectedly while out walking one evening. As I observed the lengthening shadows along my pathway, it occurred to me that these visible changing patterns of light and dark are similar to our inner shadows of mind and spirit. Like the tides of the ocean, they follow certain rhythms and shifts with the time of day, the varying seasons, and given events in the course of time. Quite a simple concept really, but it was one that buzzed with particular resonance on that evening’s stroll. Thus the seed for Shadow Tides was planted.
The horrific events of 9/11 created a most dramatic shift. It was both a physical and emotional shocker. Now a decade later, we continue sorting through the physical rebuilding, as well as working our way through the rugged emotional landscapes left in its destructive path. Like it or not, we must face the business of moving forward amidst these shadows and tides. This process of healing requires immense patience, careful reflection, and above all, encouragement. If all the lives lost and those profoundly impacted are to mean something constructive for us, we must push forward and rebuild with a full measure of patience and reflection. Perhaps a small portion of the encouragement can come through music; here at last is where I felt I might actually have something to say.
Of course, the challenge now was to find a text to match this notion. The structure upon which I wanted to build was the model of a classical four-movement symphony with each section representing a season of the year. The seasons, ripe with literary possibilities of changing shadows and tides, would serve as metaphors for our emotional journey of the 9/11 experience. I approached a local poet-friend, Peggy Ingraham, with my vision to see what she thought. I have admired her work for years, especially her command of language, the unabashed beauty of her chosen words, and the great clarity and balance of her poetry.
Happily, the idea resonated with her, as well. When her Shadow Tides text arrived, I knew instantly there was something very much indeed still to be said. I cannot overstate the importance of this sublime text. It was all I had hoped for and more. [Note: the full poem may be found on our website at: www.stfrancispotomac.org.]
With Peggy’s approval and in keeping with her deep message of hope, I conclude the composition with Isaac Watt’s masterful paraphrase of Psalm 90, O God, our help in ages past. My original tune casts his lyric in a new light (or perhaps a shadow!) with a wide-ranging sweep of line symbolic of the sweep of time and our place in it. It may be of interest to the historically-minded that the tune so long-associated with this text, ST ANNE by William Croft, was not originally penned for Mr Watts’s hymn but rather for a version of Psalm 62.
Fortunately for Mr Croft’s posterity, someone thought to put them together and together they have remained. Notwithstanding that link, I hereby offer a tune specifically written for this great sacred poem and indeed for this solemn occasion.”
I hope you will join us at The National Presbyterian Church for the premiere performance of Shadow Tides by Choralis under the direction of Maestra Gretchen Kuhrmann. The concert is on 9/11 at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Tickets are available at the door. For more information, please visit: www.choralis.org.