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ISSUE 120 VOL 9 PUBLISHED 12/1/2006

Lincoln, Thanksgiving evoked at Norseman Band chapel service

By Evan Hall
Staff Writer

Friday, December 1, 2006

The Norseman Band, under the conduction of Paul Niemesto, presented a service of thanks and remembrance in Boe Chapel on Tuesday, Nov. 21. Their traditional Thanksgiving send-off featured a selection of meditative pieces inviting the audience to stop and reflect before taking off into the chaos of the holidays.

After opening with an audience-accompanied prelude of "Amazing Grace," the band segued into "Amazing Grace Fantasia," a variation on the traditional hymn that displayed the band's warm, velvety sound and richly layered dynamic shading.

Elizabeth Rossing '08 gave a brief greeting and reflection, encouraging the audience to give thanks for life and for the lives of those no longer present. "The band's selections seek not only to remind us of God's gift of grace, but also to remind us of loss," Rossing explained, noting that U.S. President Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving as a national holiday in the midst of a civil war that had devastated and divided the country.

Indeed, the words of Lincoln in his Thanksgiving proclamation were poignantly felt throughout the service. Speaking of the blessings and bounties so often taken for granted, Lincoln declared, "They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people."

The band closed with the contemplative "Hymn for the Lost and Living," whose tender melody devolved into a dark interlude with a throbbing military beat, a painful reminder of the toll of war and loss that is so keenly felt in today's world wracked by hatred, violence and death. Fittingly, the band ended on a note of unresolved dissonance, conveying through music a message that words alone could not express - that Thanksgiving is not just a time to express gratitude but also to listen and to remember, for only by doing so can we hope to heal a world that is so bitterly divided and give thanks as a community.

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