Oct 10, 2011
Thomas was the baritone soloist on Sept. 11, 2011 for a performance of René Clausen’s “Memorial” at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Charlotte. The performance was a citywide observance of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and drew on choir members from more than a dozen area churches, plus a community orchestra. We asked Thomas to reflect on what the service meant to him:
“On September 11th, I had the honor to participate in, and sing the baritone solo for our 9/11 remembrance. I was very excited that our community came together to reflect on the horrific events of ten years ago. It was truly a community reflection.
“The music was a very exciting challenge. I had to get back into training – back into the work it takes to get my voice to the place where it can handle the difficult passages that I had to sing comfortably.
“Participating in this event brought me back to the late 60’s and early 70’s when I directed the Sounds of America. Our focus was on patriotism and patriotic songs. It was also a reminder of my time as a student at the Manhattan School of Music. It was there that I was trained to be an opera singer and to sing with an orchestral accompaniment. This event pulled two parts of my life back into existence. It was a thrill when the conductor asked me to be the soloist.
“The most important part of the music for me was the challenge to us that we forgive those who hate us. This spoke to me more than anything else as I was singing. The music and lyrics directed us to be peaceful – to call out to God to grant us peace.
“The music also called us to ask God to help us do the things that are hard for us to do.
“Throughout my life I have known that we must ask God to deliver us from those feelings that block us from doing what God wants us to do in this world. The events of 9/11 were horrible and some parts of us want to go harm those who have harmed us. However, we worship not a God of anger, but a God of peace.”