This blog is about a music expedition
It's a journey of eight passionate musicians who want to honor their brave colleagues who played on the RMS Titanic 100 years ago, until the sea took them forever.
Their last concert is now finally to be finished.
- Date: 14.April
- Time: 06:27 pm
- Position: 41°75'N,50°11'W
We just travelled in time! Right now, our ship has its own time zone. Surrounded by nothing but water.
We have now also timewise entered noman’s land: At 06.27 p.m. we turned our clocks 27 minutes back to 6.00 p.m. According to different studies the Titanic was using that time. So, in order to be as true to the actual succession of events 100 years ago we just defined our own time zone which only the other ship joining us tonight shares.
- Date: 14.April
- Time: 04:00 pm
- Position: 41°86'N,50°80'W
Tonight our eight musicians are going to finish the official memorial service with the hymn “Nearer my God to thee” which has according to various sources been the last piece the band on board the Titanic played that fatal night. So let us introduce our band of eight to you while they are practising in the drawing room.
The leader of our ensemble is Sho Omagari. Originally hailing from Japan, Sho was born in Hamburg, Germany, and has been living in New York since the age of eleven. He is now getting his doctorate in music performance and he is definitely the virtuoso in our ensemble.
With him on first violin is Andrew Mayer. Andrew is half and half: half musician, half actor, making use of his musical talent in acting when he gets to play characters that are also musicians.
On the second violins we have Richard Morley and Matthew Stein. Richard is a very versatile player who not only plays all kinds of classical and musical pieces but also regularly performs with a jazz combo in clubs.
Matt, like Andrew, is an actor and musician who is able to combine his two passions in one profession.
Shayne Lebron plays the cello. To be more precise: He plays Galathea. If you spend as much time with your instrument as these guys you develop an intimate relation. So, naming it is just a logical way of showing one’s affection for it.
With him in the cello section is Stephen Pfeiffer. Stephen recently played for a broadway show but he could easily also have sung in it as he is a very good singer, too.
Then we have Marco Brehm on the double bass. His bass’s name is Harvey. It’s named after a movie in which an imagined six-foot rabbit plays an essential part. Marco’s six-foot friend is real and has four strings.
And finally there is Kevin Carpenter who is conducting the little orchestra. He is a pianist who usually accompanies ballet classes for such renowned compagnies as the New York City Ballet or the American Ballet Theater.
Within the last days they have grown into a very harmonic ensemble that sounds as if it had been playing together for a long time. This has also led to the manager of tonight’s ceremony on board asking our musicians to be an official part of it. And who knows, after tonight’s little concert which will be broadcast live by several TV stations they might get more offers …
- Date: 14.April
- Time: 11:37 am
- Position: 41°44'N,49°57'W
Thoughts from Matthew.
We are very fortunate to travel with not only eight wonderful musicians but also some talented writers. Our violinist Matthew cared to write something about his view on the chronology of the events a hundred years ago and how they relate to last night. His thoughts mirror what a great ambassador he is for the Konzerthaus Dortmund’s cause of displaying unchallenged dedication to music:
Right now it’s approximately 11:37 pm, exactly 100 years after the Titanic hit an iceberg that would cause it to sink and cause almost 1500 people to die in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. Over the course of the next three hours, 100 years ago, passengers and crewmen scrambled to get into lifeboats, get lifejackets, or if they couldn’t do either, prepare for the end. From 12 am onwards, several of the eight musicians onboard the Titanic played music to comfort, soothe, distract, and provide solace to the doomed passengers on the ship that couldn’t get to safety. In about two and a half hours, I will be part of an orchestra that plays “Nearer, My God, to Thee” to memorialize, remember, and honor those musicians that did the only thing they knew how to do in that hour of incredible need. What moved me most, though, was the story of the last two musicians. At 2:20 am, the ship was about to completely go under water, and they had a choice to make: stop playing and scramble for a life boat, or play one last song to comfort the passengers (and themselves) just a little bit more. They chose the latter.
It’s funny to me that music is generally just another form of entertainment, something people like lawyers, doctors,politicians, farmers, bankers, and scientists listen to in their leisure time when they’re done with their more “important” jobs. When you hear a politician lamenting the state of the economy, healthcare, or the country, they say that we need more highly qualified mechanical engineers, well-trained doctors, honest politicians, effective CEOs, or experienced mechanics. You rarely hear someone say “this country really needs to encourage more young people to become musicians”. And what they say is almost always true. Before 11:30 pm on the night the Titanic sank, what the people onboard that ship needed was a captain that would slow down the ship, a ship director that would demand more lifeboats, and an engineer that could build a stronger ship capable of withstanding or rapidly evading the iceberg’s impact. Later, they would need a priest to administer last rites and an emergency planner to maximize the number of people saved. But at 2:20 am on April 15th, 1912, two musicians were exactly what the people onboard or in the frigid waters surrounding the Titanic desperately needed – not a politician, not a scientist, not an engineer, probably not even a doctor – but two musicians to give them hope, comfort, and courage to face what lies ahead. And that’s exactly what those two brave musicians did.
- Date: 14.April
- Time: 11:15 am
- Position: 42°06'N,51°94'W
Today is the day.
This is it: The anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking.
On board this ship are about 400 Titanic enthusiasts who are in a very humble and solemn way looking forward to tonight’s memorial ceremony. These past days, Titanic experts have been giving lectures on different topics related to the Titanic – icebergs, ship construction, amenities on board etc. And dinner last night was an all Titanic menu. Already the days before, there had always been one dish from the Titanic menu. Last night everything they served us had originally also been served on board the Titanic. Many of our fellow passengers dressed up for this occasion in period costumes. There were ladies with amazing dresses and hats or gentlemen in cuts. One boy even wore a captain’s uniform and had a fake beard he could put on to look like Captain Edward J. Smith.
There were two gentlemen at our dinner table who got all excited when we told them what our mission on this trip was. Immediately they suggested that we should talk to a harpist who has been playing before dinner every night. She is not only a fine musician but also an expert on everything that has to do with music on the Titanic. Or, as he put it: “Music is her love, Titanic is her passion.” So we are going to try to find her today and talk to her.
At the dinner table we also learned that a second ship which is coming our way from Southampton on the original route, the Belmoral, will be at the site in time. This had been uncertain because it had to turn back to Ireland due to a medical emergency on board. The patient couldn’t be evacuated via helicopter because the sea was too choppy, so the ship had to return to shore. Hence, it had been uncertain whether they would make it in time. Our fellow passengers were glad to hear that as they had been compassionate with the Belmoral passengers and even asked one of the officers who is in constant contact with the Belmoral to let them know thatpassengers on board our ship are hoping that they’ll make it in time.
We are also approaching the site now which we’ll probably reach around 5 p.m,. You can actually follow our trip not only by means of the coordinates associated with every post but also through this website that tracks maritime traffic.