Arts & Culture

UK Music Students, Alums to Lend Their Talents to Empty Sky Memorial 9/11 Event

photo of Empty Sky Memorial with New York City in background
UK vocalists under the direction of Everett McCorvey will lend their talents to Empty Sky Memorial's 9/11 programming this Saturday. Photo courtesy of Piqsels.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 10, 2021) — To help commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11, University of Kentucky Opera Theatre Director Everett McCorvey, along with three vocal students from the UK School of Music, will join the National Chorale, the U.S. Army Field Band and the Soldiers' Chorus in performance at the Empty Sky Memorial Remembrance Ceremony, beginning 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, in Liberty State Park, located in Jersey City, New Jersey.  

New Jersey lost 750 people in the events of 9/11. Constructed by the New Jersey 9/11 Memorial Foundation Inc., the sculpture "'Empty Sky' remembers those lost while simply and powerfully connecting New Jersey to Ground Zero." The memorial's twin walls transect a gently sloped mound anchored by a granite path that is directed toward Ground Zero. The length of each wall is exactly equal to one side of the former World Trade Center towers as the height of the wall reflects the proportion of the former buildings if they were lying on their side. The victims’ names from New Jersey face one another on the interior of the brushed stainless steel walls. The walls channel visitors to the location in the Manhattan skyline where the former twin towers once stood. The berm surrounding the walls rises to 10 feet and gradually returns to the level of the promenade creating an amphitheatre-like incline that faces Lower Manhattan. 

McCorvey, artistic director of the National Chorale, will guest conduct the concert with performances from School of Music vocal performance doctoral student Courtney Porter, vocal performance graduate student Houston Tyrrell, and vocal performance senior Nathaniel Thompson. Freshman music major, Jackson Arnold, will accompany the group as videographer. 

The program will also feature the U.S. Army Field Band and the Soldiers' Chorus. Both music groups have a history of UK music alumni members. Current UK alumni performing with the Soldiers' Chorus are Sgt. 1st Class Charis Strange, who earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from UK in 2000 and 2003; Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Cady, who earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from UK in 2002 and 2008; Master Sgt. Mario Garcia, who earned his D.M.A. in 2010; Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Erbe, who earned his bachelor's degree in 1999; and former doctoral student Master Sgt. Mark Huseth. 

UK alumni currently performing with the U.S. Army Field Band are Staff Sgt. Victor Collins, who plays the tuba for the Concert Band, and Sgt. Maj. William Elliott, who plays percussion for the Concert Band.

Now in its 54th annual season, the National Chorale continues its record of excellence in music education and performance with its extensive vocal music education program in New York City schools, including the Professional Performing Arts High School, as well as a season of virtual programming. The National Chorale is the only professional choral organization to establish and maintain an annual choral-orchestral series in a major New York City concert hall — for 53 years at Lincoln Center — with additional concerts at Carnegie Hall. The chorale has created and presented the Handel’s Messiah Sing-In at Lincoln Center every December with an audience-chorus of 3,000 singers. Their repertory also includes major a cappella works from the 16th century to our time and its continuing series of 20th and 21st century American classics. The National Chorale has toured since 1967, presenting choral concerts, vocal/instrumental chamber music, Messiah Sing-Ins, American music theatre concerts, contemporary music and concerts for young people. It also presents the leading vocal music education initiative in New York’s public schools. Every year, through the National Chorale’s programs, more than 15,000 children in elementary, intermediate and high schools participate in choirs and develop their skills for lifelong enjoyment of singing.

The Soldiers’ Chorus, founded in 1957, is the vocal complement of the United States Army Field Band of Washington, D.C. The 29–member mixed choral ensemble travels throughout the nation and abroad, performing as a separate component and in joint concerts with the Concert Band. The chorus has performed in all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, India, the Far East and throughout Europe, entertaining audiences of all ages. The musical backgrounds of Soldiers’ Chorus personnel range from opera and musical theatre to music education and vocal coaching. In addition to presenting selections from the vast choral repertoire, chorus performances often include the music of Broadway, opera, barbershop quartet and Americana. This versatility has earned the Soldiers’ Chorus an international reputation for presenting musical excellence and inspiring patriotism. Notable performances include four world fairs, American Choral Directors Association conferences, music educator conventions, Kennedy Center Honors Programs, the 750th anniversary of Berlin and the rededication of the Statue of Liberty.

The United States Army Field Band has been thrilling audiences of all ages for more than six decades. As the premier touring musical representative for the United States Army, this internationally-acclaimed organization travels thousands of miles each year presenting a variety of music to enthusiastic audiences throughout the nation and abroad. Through these concerts, the Field Band fosters the support of the American people for members of the armed forces and supports diplomatic efforts around the world. Since its formation in March 1946, the Field Band has appeared in all 50 states and in more than 30 countries on four continents. The organization’s four performing components, the Concert Band, the Soldiers’ Chorus, the Jazz Ambassadors, and Six-String Soldiers, each travel over 100 days annually. Tours include formal public concerts, school assemblies, educational outreach programs, festivals, and radio and television appearances. The United States Army Field Band is considered by music critics to be one of the most versatile and inspiring musical organizations in the world. Its members, selected by highly-competitive audition, represent some of the finest musical talent in America. More than six decades as the military’s most traveled musicians have earned them the title, “The Musical Ambassadors of the Army.”

The School of Music at UK College of Fine Arts has garnered a national reputation for high-caliber education in opera, choral and instrumental music performance, as well as music education, music therapy, composition, and theory and music history.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.