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Concordia music professor's piece to be featured at NYC 9/11 event

Concordia music professor Rene Clausen conducts a piece of music he composed commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terorist attacks. He's bringing with him to New York City more than 50 singers from the Master Chorale of Fargo-Moorhead to perform the 30-minute piece, titled "Memorial." David Samson / The Forum

MOORHEAD - A musical piece composed by a Concordia College professor will be on center stage in New York City for the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Rene Clausen will conduct "Memorial" on Sunday at Lincoln Center. He was commissioned to compose the piece based on the events of 9/11 for the American Choral Directors Association National Convention in 2003.

Clausen's work will not only be featured in New York City's major concert for the anniversary of 9/11, it also will be performed by choirs around the country on Sunday.

"It kind of takes my breath away," Clausen said. "Mostly what I hope is that the music can be healing and cleansing."

About 50 members of the Master Chorale of Fargo-Moorhead, which is directed by Clausen, will be among the approximately 300 singers from around the country to perform Clausen's piece at Lincoln Center.

The group rehearsed Tuesday night at Concordia and will rehearse in New York on Friday and Saturday with the other choirs and the orchestra.

"It's going to be an amazing experience," said Bob Rohla, president of the Master Chorale. "It's kind of a thrill for everybody."

About 30 Concordia alumni also will be among the performers, Clausen said.

Concordia religion professor Roy Hammerling, who wrote most of the lyrics for "Memorial," will be in the audience.

The 30-minute piece has four parts: "September Morning," "The Attack," "Prayers" and "Petitions."

After the part that reflects the attack and destruction, most of the piece seeks to find common ground and healing, Clausen said.

"Over these years, what I have found more is that we've had time to absorb all of the net effects of what happened on 9/11," Clausen said. "You still hope for a time where we can lay down the sword, where revenge is not going to be humankind's answer to an event like this."

Since 2003, "Memorial" has been performed across the world. Clausen recalled one dress rehearsal in a Chicago suburb that prompted the lead trumpet player to stop playing because he was so emotional.

Clausen found out later the man's brother was in the north tower of the World Trade Center.

"The music just brought it all front and center again," Clausen said.

Hammerling said he occasionally receives emails from people about the lyrics, which are prayers he wrote for a local church service following 9/11 that Clausen incorporated into the piece.

He's received the most feedback on this line:

"We pray for our enemies, all those who hate us; we condemn them to your mercy, O God."

Many react strongly to those lyrics or don't know how to interpret them, Hammerling said. His intent was to promote compassion rather than revenge.

"Really, we leave this in God's hands," Hammerling said. "We shouldn't respond in hatred. We don't want to become the people who do this."


•To listen to the recording of Rene Clausen's "Memorial," visit

•For more information on the concert, visit