Eastman offers several course programs that are designed to help students understand their place in the world.

The Eastman Colloquium and the Catherine Filene Shouse Arts Leadership Program are two such programs that attempt to answer the question, ?Why am I doing this?? that often plagues classical music students.

It has struck me that some of the most poignant moments of the last week have involved music in some way.

I will never forget the image of the U.S. Senate spontaneously bursting into ?God Bless America? on national television.

Their voices were a mix of thin and strong, trained and untrained, old and young. In other words, it wasn?t very good ? but somehow, it was wonderful. It was as though the senators turned to a more universal language to explain the situation in America when regular words failed.

Another such moment I won?t soon forget is when the Bucking-ham Palace guards played ?The Star-Spangled Banner? in support of America Thursday morning.

And yet, when I heard the music after the attacks, it was a watershed event for me. It was the first time that I found myself able to really cry ? to vent my rage, fear, horror and shock of the past few days.

I had been watching the images on CNN, but had not allowed myself to absorb them. For some reason, the familiar music managed to reach around the emotional blocks I had put in place, and allowed the floodgates to open.

I don?t think this has anything to do with my being a musician. As I stressed, neither of the performances that will be forever etched in my memory were particularly artful or brilliant. It was their emotion that struck me.

Somehow, when words fail, certain music can succeed in accessing and venting emotion. When I ran this idea past my roommate, a senior vocal performance major, he agreed.

He explained to me that in an opera, a character will most often use an aria to convey a strong emotion, rather than a recitative or spoken dialogue.

When emotions are too big for words, they can?t be expressed in anything other than a musical selection.

I suppose that is why the powers that be chose the Mozart Requiem as the medium through which to grieve for the thousands of people who will not be recovered from the Twin Towers ? for their children, spouses, parents, friends, co-workers, casual acquaintances and everyone else who will be forever scarred by their loss.

Powell can be reached at jpowell@campustimes.org.

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