SHANKSVILLE, Pa. – With both somber reflection and an uplifting spirit, the strings and horns of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra sounded throughout Flight 93 National Memorial on Saturday afternoon.
JSO performed a one-hour concert as part of the 20th anniversary commemoration of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks when a hijacked plane crashed into what was then an empty field in Somerset County.
“It’s an enormous honor,” JSO Executive Director Jessica Satava said. “We were very grateful to be able to do this, to be able to participate in this way. I think that musicians think of what they have to offer as being their way of expressing something important and giving a gift. It’s just amazing to give this gift on this day to our community and share this thing with them, share an experience.”
Stephen Clark, superintendent of the park, said it “means the world to us to have musicians from western Pennsylvania be a part of this special day.”
The orchestra played Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” and Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World.”
JSO Music Director James Blachly said Dvorak’s piece “speaks of what this country is through music – both with hope, and there’s a sense of loss, but also of reflection, and ultimately I think it leaves us with a sense of looking to the future.”
“It takes us on a journey and leaves us in a better place at the end,” Blachly added.
Later, three symphony members performed a new piece for oboe, viola and harp, composed by Pittsburgh native Thomas Dougherty, at Laurel Arts in Somerset.
“It’s inspired by the response of Somerset County to the events of 9/11 and by the exhibit that’s going on right now at Laurel Arts called ‘Reflections of the Human Spirit,’ ” Satava said.