Student Recalls Sept. 11 Attacks with Threnody

“The planes were hijacked, the building fell, and thousands of lives were lost nearly a thousand miles from here. But the attacks on the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon were an attack on the heart of America. And standing here in the heartland of America, we say in one voice: We will not give into terrorists. We will not rest until they are found and defeated. We will win this struggle not for glory, nor wealth, nor power; but for justice, for freedom, and for peace, so help us God.”

— U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)

September 11 is a day of remembrance, a day America was shaken, but a day the nation stood united as one. It was a day when the nation came together to show its patriotism. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, and a talented 23-year-old music senior will conduct a threnody in memory of such an emotional day.

Music education major Jesus J. Martinez hails from the small Texas town of Rio Valley, specializes in percussion, and will be graduating in December. As a student at the University of Texas at Arlington, Martinez said he was thrilled to study among some of the best percussion instructors in the nation, including Department of Music Associate Professor Dr. Michael Varner, senior instructor James Yakas, and Dr. David Wolf. He even spent time with Grammy-award winner and artist-in-residence Adonis Rose.

The idea for the “Threnody for 9/11” began as a seed planted by a friend who, like Martinez, was entering the competition for the 2011 Annual Symposium of Excellence by Students (ACES) last spring. Both discussed ideas of what their research would be, and both were looking for an idea that would be a programmatic piece that would reenact an event, Martinez said.

Both of the students choose projects revolving around the Sept. 11 attacks. Martinez’s friend chose to write “a beautiful somber piece to commemorate the victims from the tragedy,” Martinez said. But Martinez wanted the audience to be able to hear and visualize the four plane crashes, the towers falling and to bring that audience back to the emotions they felt on the day of the attacks. He presented a 10-minute musical with quotations from former President George W. Bush to ACES judges and won the President’s Award for Undergraduate Oral Presentation.

After winning the award, one of the judges encouraged Martinez to expand the piece and create a performance for a University- and community-wide audience. With the help from his two mentors, Varner and Yakas, Martinez wrote a 38-minute piece, dividing the story into three acts. The “Threnody for 9/11 for Mixed Chamber Ensemble” will be performed Sunday night by members of the UTA Symphony Orchestra, the Arlington Boys and Girls Choir, and will be feature Anne Marie Boeding as soprano soloist and Political Science Professor Dr. Allen Saxe as narrator.

The first act is called “The Alarms,” which describes the four commercial airliners that were hijacked and used to strike the Twin Towers in NYC, the Pentagon, and an intended target of either the U.S. Capitol or the White House. (Passengers in the fourth plane, Flight 93, fought with hijackers and crashed in a field outside Shanksville, Pa.) The act features Boeding as soprano soloist, singing a quote from Senator Tom Harkin from Iowa addressing this tragedy. Quotes from former President George W. Bush will be read by Saxe. The second act is called “Call to Arms” and will reenact soldiers preparing for war. Martinez said the audience will experience the five stages of grief played across the soldiers’ faces. The final act is called “Acts of Freedom,” and features the Arlington Boys and Girls Choir in a sweet, soothing song that reaffirms Sept. 11 a day that will never be forgotten, Martinez said.

The performance will be held this Sunday at 7:30 p.m. in the Irons Recital Hall. Admission is free. Martinez also plans to include a live video of the performance on his website,

For more information, contact the Music department at or (817) 272-3471.

[Written by Karla Cano, College of Liberal Arts]

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