Reflections of the Human Spirit: America’s County Responds to the Tragic Events of September 11
September 6 @ 8:00 am - September 30 @ 4:00 pm
On the occasion of the 20th commemoration of the events of Flight 93 on 9/11/2001, the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra (JSO) and Laurel Arts have come together to commission Thomas Dougherty to compose a piece of music for three JSO players that speaks to the experience and response of the Somerset community during the period surrounding 9/11.
Mark Addleman, President of the Board of Trustees of the JSO and Treasurer of the Board of Laurel Arts says, “I wanted to bring these two great arts organizations together to create something lasting and meaningful to speak to the experience of this community on 9/11.”
The exhibit Reflections of the Human Spirit: America’s County Responds to the Tragic Events of September 11 will be free and open to the public from September 6 – September 30. It will open in a special memorial event on Saturday, September 11, 2021 from 12 – 8 PM. The work will be composed for oboe, viola, and harp, and will be premiered at the exhibit at the Laurel Arts – Phillip Dressler Center for the Arts on 9/11 by JSO Principal Oboe Stephanie Caulder, Principal Viola Stephen Weiss, and Principal Harp Christine Mazza.
Johnstown Symphony Orchestra Music Director James Blachly says, “The Johnstown Symphony is honored to have been invited to perform two concerts at the Flight 93 Memorial on September 10th and September 11th. This commission will form a part of that programming, and allow us to express in music what words cannot contain, and to have this music speak directly to the Somerset community. We selected a panel of three highly qualified and preeminent composers to judge the competition in Nancy Galbraith, John Levey, and Baljinder Sekhon, chairs of the composition departments of Carnegie Mellon University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Penn State University, respectively.”
Maestro Blachly adds, “In reviewing the 27 highly qualified composers who applied from all over the country with strong ties to Western Pennsylvania, this esteemed panel unanimously selected Thomas Dougherty.”
The panel who chose the composer in a competitive process said in a statement, “Thomas Dougherty’s compelling background as a composer, violinist, and oboist, combined with his strong connection to western Pennsylvania and professional portfolio of works, makes him an excellent choice for this commission.”
Mr. Dougherty says, “As a native of Western Pennsylvania, this is a particularly meaningful opportunity to write for musicians of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra while also honoring the brave men and women of Flight 93 through music.
“It is my hope that our orchestras across the country prioritize commissioning composers with ties to their communities. This essential practice ensures the countless diverse, compositional voices of our country are represented, strengthens the relevance of the institutions, and allows composers to foster their region’s legacy through music.”
Jaclyn McCusker, Executive Director of Laurel Arts, says “The exhibit will serve as a moment of reflection not only for the events surrounding a tragic moment in American history, but also the nature in which our county, America’s County, responded and provided hope and perseverance in even the darkest of times. Additional events, guest speakers, and related films will be hosted at Laurel Arts during the month of September. The exhibit will be free and open to the public.”