Reed Gratz, professor of music, and Gary Colby, professor of photography, collaborated to create a night of music, meditation and a slideshow to honor the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Sunday.
Students, faculty and others from the La Verne community came to the Ann and Steve Morgan Auditorium to listen to the piano stylings of Gratz and enjoy the slideshow by Colby.
“No more applause for tonight,” Gratz said before he began to play.
Though the audience clapped when he walked on stage, Gratz did not want applause to ruin the sense of meditation that he was going to create while playing.
“You can reflect and contemplate any feelings you may have,” Gratz said.
Gratz set the mood after he played the first few notes, took a pause and a deep breath in before he continued with the rest of his performance.
The music began solemnly as Gratz played slowly with pauses in between every few notes.
Gratz leaned into the piano and closed his eyes as he played his original music, which was for the most part slow jazz and classical style.
The slideshow assembled by Colby displayed his personal photos some of which evoked 9/11 memories. It served background as Gratz played the piano.
“The thing was kind of a narrative,” Colby said. “I didn’t want to tell the story outright. I chose photos that are symbolic.”
Some photos were easily recognized since they were associated with the World Trade Center.
The photos depicted airplane wings, reflections of buildings in skyscraper windows and a fire truck.
Other photos were symbols of the events of Sept. 11, such as an albatross that brought bad luck or tiles with shapes that resembled the towers inside a maze of other cracked tiles.
The photos faded one into the next, so that the new picture slowly came into focus while the other slowly faded away.
This was similar to the way that Gratz transitioned into a new piece.
When ending one song, Gratz hung onto the note for an extended period of time before he slowly drifted into the next song.
One of the songs Gratz played was “Amazing Grace.”
After Gratz finished playing, some audience members wiped their eyes because the pictures and the familiar patriotic hymn moved them to tears.
“I liked that he included ‘Amazing Grace,’ into the performance,” freshman music major Vicky Campos said.
“I liked the picture of the buildings too.”
Just before he began the last song, Gratz wiped his hand across his mouth as the back lights illuminating the stage turned red.
The final song, which had more of an upbeat rhythm than the majority of the performance, echoed through the hall as the crowd listened in silence.
After he finished the last note of the song, Gratz looked down and took a deep breath before turning to the audience, who were then clapping while some blew their noses and wiped their eyes.
Karlie Bettencourt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.