To commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11, From the Top will rebroadcast Show 196, featuring violinist William Harvey, the week of September 5. A few days after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, William was performing with a Juilliard quartet at a military building in lower Manhattan where the families of missing person were awaiting news of their loved ones. Here’s an excerpt from his September 17, 2001 essay about the experience:
Yesterday I had probably the most incredible and moving experience of my life. The Juilliard School organized a quartet to go play at the Armory. The Armory is a huge military building where families of people missing from Tuesday’s disaster go to wait for news of their loved ones. Entering the building was very difficult emotionally, because the entire building (the size of a city block) was covered with missing posters. Thousands of posters, spread out up to eight feet above the ground, each featuring a different, smiling, face.
I made my way into the huge central room and found my Juilliard buddies. For two hours we sight-read quartets (with only three people!), and I don’t think I will soon forget the grief counselor from the Connecticut State Police who listened the entire time, or the woman who listened only to “Memory” from Cats, crying the whole time.
At 7:00 p.m., the other two players had to leave; they had been playing at the Armory since 1:00 and simply couldn’t play any more. I volunteered to stay and play solo, since I had just got there. I soon realized that the evening had just begun for me: a man in fatigues who introduced himself as Sergeant Major asked me if I’d mind playing for his soldiers as they came back from digging through the rubble at Ground Zero.
Never have I played for a more grateful audience. Somehow it didn’t matter that, by the end, my intonation was shot and I had no bow control. I would have lost any competition I was playing in, but it didn’t matter. The men would come up the stairs in full gear, remove their helmets, look at me, and smile. I realized at that point that I would no longer be comfortable with one of the niche careers where you search around for a job, and you get it or not. It’s wonderful… but what about changing the world through music?” Click here to continue reading.
Video profile of William:
In the ten years since 9/11 William has been dedicated to making a difference with his music. In 2005 he founded a non-profit organization called Cultures in Harmony, which sends American musicians to conduct residencies in countries around the world, the aim of which is to foster cross-cultural dialogue through the universal language of music.
In July 2009 the Ministry of Education of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan offered William the post of Violin and Viola Teacher, and today he is still teaching at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music in Kabul. You can stay up to date on his experiences through his blog.
To check broadcast times for Show 196, airing nation-wide the week of September 5, click here.