Everyone has a story to tell about Bach. Here’s mine.
Bach brought me back after 9/11. It was Sunday, September 23, 2001, just 12 days after the terrorist attacks brought down the World Trade Center, killed thousands of people and obliterated all sense of reason and order in our city. I was in my kitchen preparing the first “normal” meal my family would eat together since the tragedy hit. I had been working round-the-clock navigating a city in chaos and filled with raw emotion.
WNYC's FM transmitter was destroyed in the attacks and we were forced out of our downtown studios, yet this was the moment when New York needed us most. All of us at WNYC were determined to rise to the occasion and to cover the devastation and the aftermath thoroughly. We went to an all-news, all-talk format operating our newsroom from the streets and remote locations. We carried on like this for days and I didn’t quite know how we’d get through it.
Then that Sunday evening the music returned. David Garland presented the first music WNYC had aired since the 10th. It was a special called "Bach: Solace and Inspiration." It was just what I needed at the time. It was just what our city needed after days of turmoil and unrelenting stress. As the music came flowing through the radio, I was overwhelmed with feelings of relief and comfort. I was transfixed by the power of Bach’s compositions and soothed by their incredible sense of order. I knew then that our city would recover. I called my husband into the kitchen to listen with me and we stood there taking it all in until David's voice came back on the air. It was the first time after the attacks that I felt like I could exhale and that a sense of structure had returned. In that moment, Bach gave me confidence and reassured me that life would eventually get back to normal.
Starting on March 21, WQXR will celebrate the life, the legacy and the incredible music of Johann Sebastian Bach. For ten days, WQXR will suspend regular programming and play the complete (yes, the complete) works of Bach in a festival called Bach 360°. It’s a fitting tribute for a great composer who has touched the lives of so many, so deeply. As part of the festival, WQXR will explore the allure of Bach with historians, musicians, authors and, of course, our listeners. WQXR is inviting listeners to share their stories via a special Bach Voices hotline and online. Call 347-286-1059 to record your story or visit WQXR.org/BACH360, where you can also find a full list of festival programming including live events.
On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, WQXR played highlights from the special "Bach: Solace and Inspiration." Click here for the playlist.