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The Red Bandanna Choral Symphony Reflects, Remembers 9/11

by Nancy Sall

The Red Bandanna Choral Symphony tells the story of 9/11 through poetic verse and orchestral music. It brings together vocals, woodwinds, brass, percussion and strings in an intensive, dramatic and moving reflection of the events of the day that has forever changed our lives. The Nyack High School Chorus and Symphony Orchestra will premiere this original work by Scott Nathan Louis on Thurs June 4 at 7p in the Nyack High School auditorium.

The Red Bandanna Choral Symphony

A Four Part Symphony

The first movement is based on the poem, No Man is an Island, by John Donne from 1694 (ending with the famous phrase, “And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee).

The second movement focuses on the heroic rescue of several people by Mr. Welles Crowther, who has come to be known as The Man In The Red Bandanna (for the red bandanna he wore to shield his face from smoke while helping others to safety). In this movement the chorus puts to song words that Welles called out during the rush to the stairs (“follow me”).

The third movement captures the chaos and rescue down the stairs with more song and instrumentation, growing louder and louder until the symbolization of the floors collapsing is evidenced with the orchestra fading to just string instrumentation.


Welles and Alison Crowther

The final movement, entitled No Goodbyes, includes quotes from Gandhi, the Dali Lama, and others with the peaceful message of humanitarianism and sacrifice.

The Red Bandanna Choral Symphony helps us reflect on and remember how, even in the darkest times, acts of selflessness enable the human spirit to shine.

The score was commissioned by MusicWorks, a non-profit parent and community organization that supports music programs in Nyack Public Schools.The program is part of Arts Angels, an umbrella organization for arts in schools which supports ArtWorks, DramaWorks, and MusicWorks.

Scott Nathan Louis is the Director of Choral Studies at the Rockland Conservatory of Music and has performed at Carnegie Hall. He has previously been commissioned to write numerous pieces of concert music, oratorios, pop songs and musical theater. Louis is also an elementary music school teacher in Pearl River, NY

“We are deeply touched that Welles should be so lovingly remembered through this beautiful and powerful work,” said Welles’ mother Alison Crowther. “We are profoundly moved and honored by composer Scott Louis, whose sensitivity, insight and talent created the work; by the teachers and parents who supported the project and the Nyack High School Chorus and (Symphony) Orchestra students who will bring it to life.”

NHS_SymphonyOrchChorThe Nyack High School Chorus and Symphony Orchestra, which will debut this composition on Thursday at 7p, does not shy away from musical challenges. In 2013 they performed Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy for Symphony, Chorus and Piano and in 2012 they gave an awe-inspiring rendition of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. Noteworthy accomplishments of the band, chorus and string students who make up the Nyack High School Symphony Orchestra include that the Advanced Chorus won Gold with Distinction at two recent competitions; the Chamber Orchestra won Gold at the London Heritage Music Festival; Marching Band is classified as a NYS Field Band Champion, has placed 1st in numerous competitions and performed at Disney World; String Orchestra received Gold at Music in the Park. Needless to say, these student musicians give it their all and they have numerous awards and accolades to show for it.

The 7p Thurs June 4 free performance of Scott Nathan Louis’ The Red Bandanna: A Choral Symphony is open to the public. Nyack High School is located at 360 Christian Herald Rd in Upper Nyack, NY.

Nyack People & Places, a weekly series that features photos and profiles of citizens and scenes near Nyack, NY, is sponsored by Sun River Health.

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