Special Reports

Requiem links world in grief

Masses crowded into the sanctuary at Mason United Methodist Church on Wednesday morning at 8:46, when a handbell marked the minute the first tower was hit on Sept. 11, 2001.

They came to hear Mozart's Requiem, wearing running shorts and work suits, flag T-shirts, firefighter uniforms. They filled the seats and the balcony, packed the doorways and stairways, sat on the floor and stood in the aisles.

Many closed their eyes tight as the music started. A man in the front row began to sob.

Other memorial activities might have been less somber.

"But I can't move on yet," said Christina Sissel, 31, of Milton. "I wanted to be part of mourning."

Northwest Repertory Singers organized Tacoma's Rolling Requiem, one of nearly 200 performances of Mozart's final composition in 26 countries Wednesday. Each began at 8:46 a.m. in the local zone.

Conductor Paul Schultz had 500 programs printed for the occasion, but 800 people came, estimated Mason Pastor Joe Miller. On top of that were 120 singers and instrumentalists.

"We had no idea there'd be such an overwhelming response," Miller said, adding he's never seen the church so full.

The Requiem heard round the world was the most meaningful way Gary Petersen, 56, could think to commemorate.

"Nine-eleven rippled around the world," the University Place man said.

"This is the kind of beautiful memorial this day needs, rather than a TV screen with a replay," said Tacoma firefighter Lisa Flesher. "Music is the way to bring people together in difficult times."

Puget Sound residents heard Mozart's Requiem on Vashon Island and at Safeco Field. At a London cathedral, a cellist played Bach as white rose petals fell from the dome. U.S. researchers at the South Pole played the music.

Tacoma singers thought of last year's events and tried not to cry.

"I was thinking, at this point, firefighters were in there," said Jan Lassen, 42, of Tacoma.

Each musician wore a victim's name. Jennie Traeger Pacquer of Kirkland chose Kenneth Lewis because his wife is named Jennifer and Jennie's husband is named Ken.

"It's full circle," Traeger Pacquer said. "It's having a chance to do something."

Schultz said the Requiem wasn't musically perfect. "But what I heard in my heart was more than perfect," he said.

Pastor Miller woke up at 4:30 a.m., sat with his coffee and watched the clock on the oven turn to 5:46, which is 8:46 in New York.

"I just felt very quiet, and to be in that service this morning," he said, "it's just where I wanted to be."

Jen Graves: 253-597-8568