The Schiller Institute Presents Mozart’s Requiem in Honor of John F. Kennedy at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross
January 22, 2014 • 8:03PM

“A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on. Ideas have endurance without death.” — John F. Kennedy

An audience of 1,200 people attended the Schiller Institute’s tribute performance of W.A. Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor in honor of John F. Kennedy at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston on Sunday afternoon, January 19. The performance marked the fiftieth anniversary of the January 19, 1964 performance of the Requiem at the Cathedral, less than two months after Kennedy’s assassination, which occurred as part of a Solemn Pontifical Mass in his honor and was attended by his wife and other members of the Kennedy family.


Schiller Institute performs Mozart's Requiem at Boston's Cathedral of the Holy Cross

The Schiller Institute Chorus was conducted by John Sigerson and was joined by an orchestra specially assembled for the occasion along with four vocal soloists, Nataly Wickham, soprano; Heather Gallagher, mezzo-soprano; William Ferguson, tenor; and Ron Williams, bass. The music was performed at the “Verdi” tuning of A=432 Hz. The performance featured clips from speeches by John F. Kennedy, interspersed at select points between sections of the Requiem, which highlighted significant aspects of his vision of the New Frontier: “Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce... Now the trumpet summons us again—a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, ‘rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation’—a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.”

Several featured guests delivered short spoken remarks prior to the music, including Raymond Flynn, former Mayor of Boston and later Ambassador to the Vatican, and Helga Zepp-LaRouche, the founder of the Schiller Institute, along with written greetings which were read aloud from the President of the Republic of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins; Boston City Councilman-at-large Stephen J. Murphy; and opera singer Nicholas DiVirgilio, tenor soloist at the original 1964 Requiem. In DiVirglio’s very special remembrance, he described the intensely emotional experience of singing at that original performance with Jacqueline Kennedy kneeling directly in front of him at the altar to receive communion, recalling: “To me the ‘Benedictus’ is the most beautiful and most moving part of Mozart’s mass and a joy to sing under ordinary circumstances. Seeing her kneeling in prayer and seeing mascara streaming down her cheeks during the ‘Benedictus’ struck me with such a strong emotional bolt that I had no recollection of having sung.”


Schiller Institute Choir Director John Sigerson

Ambassador Flynn welcomed the audience to the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on behalf of both himself and Cardinal Seán O’Malley, and thanked the chorus and orchestra for commemorating the historic performance in 1964, recalling that he had personally been present as a member of the audience during that performance fifty years before. Flynn said: “We are so proud that all of you, and particularly this ensemble could be with us here on this very historic day. This Cathedral has hosted many incredible events, talking about the John Kennedy visit here, and John Kennedy’s memorial service here in 1964. I was here... And I know I speak for all the people of the Boston when I welcome you here, thank you for being here, and thank you for sharing your talents on this historic day that meant so much to the people of the City of Boston... I’m sure I speak on behalf of the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston Seán Patrick O’Malley, a wonderful, wonderful leader of the Roman Catholic Church, in welcoming you all, as well as the Pastor here, Kevin O’Leary here at the Cathedral, welcoming you all. And let’s have a great concert. God bless all of you. Thank you.”

Helga Zepp-LaRouche’s opening remarks underscored the urgency of the present generation of leadership to internalize Kennedy’s vision of the future and become the vehicles for his immortality, citing the recent writings of Pope Francis in which he applies the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” as the necessary standard for economic and political justice globally. Mrs. Zepp-LaRouche said: “It is necessary to commemorate the celebration of Mozart’s Requiem which was performed for John F. Kennedy, fifty years ago in this cathedral.


Schiller Institute President Helga Zepp-LaRouche

It is urgent to evoke again the divine spirit of beauty of Mozart’s composition in order to reconnect us with the better world which both Kennedy and Mozart represent. His assassination marks the deep cut, the change of paradigm of which the world suffers since. For the short years of his leadership, the nation and the world were inspired by his trust in the limitless perfectibility of man and his ability to face all challenges, due to the confidence in God, as well as in the creative ability of man to apply scientific and technological progress for the benefit of mankind. He was committed to guide America to contribute to the elimination of poverty in the whole world and to build a lasting peace among all nations. With his assassination, not only he was murdered, but the hope to achieve these goals. Today, fifty years later world peace is in danger, large parts of the world are gripped by despair and poverty, and many youth are lacking a future. Recently, Pope Francis issued the Apostolic writing Evangelii Gaudium in which he insisted that the Sixth Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” must also be applied to the economy and that we are living today under an economic system which idolizes money and which does kill people. He then called on the political leaders of today, to have an energetic change in their basic attitude and called on them to change that economic system with decisiveness and vision, into one that provides for the welfare of all people on the planet. In Kennedy’s memory, we must, therefore, not only mourn the torment of the world, but it is our responsibility to follow the call of Pope Francis, to inspire new hope for mankind, by bringing the minds of people together, and generate a movement of inspiration devoted to bring about a revival of humanity from the looming destruction. Let us therefore participate in this concert with the solemn commitment, to passionately devote ourselves to Kennedy’s vision, and carry out his vision for the future, and in that way, partake in his immortality.”

A high-quality recording of the concert will be made available soon on the Schiller Institute website.