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Media Contact:
Mark Scearce, 919/513-7851
Benny Benton, News Services, 919/515-3470

Sept. 9, 2004

NC State Composer Sets Music to Nobel-Laureate’s 9/11 Text


Composer J. Mark Scearce, director of the Music Department at North Carolina State University, has set to music the text of a poem reflecting on the 9/11 tragedy written by Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison.

Scearce’s piece, titled “This Thread,” will make its world premiere in concerts with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra Sept. 10 and 11 in the Tennessee capitol.

The poem by Morrison – who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for her novel, “Beloved,” and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993 – originally appeared in a special 9/11 edition of Vanity Fair in November 2001 and was titled, “The Dead of September 11.”

Scearce says that when he read the poem, he found that it was “of such even-keeled, level-headedness, that I wrote away asking for rights to it before I ever considered the magnitude of what it meant to approach the hallowed gates of a Nobel Prize-winner.”

After listening to two previous works by Scearce, “Anima Mundi” and “Endymion’s Sleep,” Morrison granted Scearce the right to set her poem to music. Scearce scored the 330-word poem for a mezzo soprano, violin solo and a chamber orchestra of double winds. The final section employs the 5-5-5-5 code of fallen firefighters on the same pitch as the fire bells of old.

“I hope the music, and these words of salvation and – written days after the event – triage, will help to comfort and to calm,” said Scearce, “to assuage as a soothing balm, to heal our wounds in perhaps the only way they can be – through music.”

Mezzo soprano Marietta Simpson and violinist Christian Teal will join the Nashville Chamber Orchestra in performing “This Thread,” which will be presented as part of a broader program themed, “Celebrate the Human Spirit.” More information on the concerts can be found by visiting www.nco.org.

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