‘Eleven’ concert at museum honors memory of Sept. 11 victims
Updated: November 4, 2011 5:17PM
Chicago cabaret artist Joan Curto was excitedly waiting to board a plane at O’Hare Airport for her New York City debut when the flight was abruptly cancelled. It was Sept. 11, 2001.
A decade later, Curto still remembers watching the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center collapse on a TV set in the airport.
Because that memory remains fresh and because Curto believes “music has an amazing ability to do so many things — and one of them is heal,” she quickly agreed to perform when cabaret artist Carla Gordon asked her to participate in “Eleven,” a 10th anniversary commemoration of the terrorist attacks. The program of music and readings is Sunday, Sept. 11, at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie.
Gordon who, in addition to performing, is a writer for Cabaret Scenes magazine, admitted that, as a journalist, when she first heard about the Sept. 11 attacks, she focused on the facts. “There were numbers, there were buildings,” she said. Then Gordon saw the members of Congress singing “God Bless America” on the Capital steps and she was moved to tears.
“I realized that for some of us it is music that allows us to feel our deepest feelings and, in my case, our toughest feelings,” Gordon said.
That is why Gordon decided to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks with some of her closest friends from the Chicago cabaret scene. “They, like me, express their feelings easier through music,” she said.
The show will be divided into four sections: the event and loss, what comforted the performers, how they coped and a final section entitled, “America’s okay.”
Gordon will sing, “The Voice in Your Heart,” which she wrote in the wake of Sept. 11, as well as a Yiddish song from her childhood that comforted her. She will also tell a humorous story about a post 9/11 incident at an airport scanner that embarrassed Gordon but really amused her then 11-year-old son. Following that tale, Gordon and Wayne Richards will sing “Kids.”
Richards agreed to participate in the show because he believes, “It’s a very important day in our history and a ten-year commemoration makes you stop and think. It’s a decade ago and it’s still very much in the forefront of the American psyche.” Richards particularly wanted to be involved because of the venue. “I grew up in Skokie,” he explained.
In addition to his duet with Gordon, Richards will sing a song he co-wrote with Gordon, “Thank the Ones who Serve.” He will also do some readings.
Curto will sing “Goodnight, New York” by Julie Gold. “It’s the story of her mother’s immigration but it also pays homage to New York City, Ellis Island and all the people who have entered this amazing country,” Curto said, adding, “I started singing it right after 9/11. The song has a great ability to reach out and touch people.”
In addition, Curto will sing, “Look for the Silver Lining.” “In any tragedy, and in life, people have the ability to get up again and move forward,” she explained.
“I think music is such an incredible vehicle for processing emotions,” said David Edelfelt, who appears in the show. “This is going to be, in our country, a very emotionally-charged day.”
Edelfelt will sing, “When You Meet an Angel” and “Laughing Matters.” He noted that he has sung that first song for many years and “It’s very special to me for a lot of reasons.”
Edelfelt will also tell a story about an Israeli student he taught. “His experience of the day in America was very different with his experience growing up in Israel,” Edelfelt said.
The program will also feature the cabaret team of Beckie Menzie (music director) and Tom Michael.
Curto concluded that “Eleven” is an important event because “Reflection is good and celebration of lives is wonderful.” She believes that the Illinois Holocaust Museum, with its message of never forgetting the Holocaust, is a perfect setting for this commemorative concert.
“It’s the same for 9/11,” Curto said. “We don’t want to forget.”
“Eleven,” is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sept. 11 at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, 9603 Woods Drive, Skokie. Tickets are $14 and include museum admission; $6 for museum members. Call (847) 967-4889 or www.ilholocaustmuseum for more information.