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Singing With One Voice

Performing artists from rock to rap, pop to classical, and even comics, are doing their part to help Americans through the shock of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

In Boston, where the flights that rammed into the World Trade Center originated, there were tears last night as conductor Seiji Ozawa opened the season of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

In memory of the victims, who include the husband of a BSO chorus member, the program was changed from all Mendelssohn to one which began with "America the Beautiful" and included a reading of the poem "The Truly Great" and a moment of silence as a firefighter stood on stage holding the American flag.

"Music is very important to put people fully together," said Ozawa, before the performance. "I think it's a very emotional thing."

In New York last night, some of the most prominent names in the music business gathered at Radio City, for a live televised tribute to John Lennon, portraying the slain musician as an artist whose words have taken on renewed meaning since the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Performing songs such as "Imagine," "Give Peace A Chance" and "Come Together" were Dave Matthews, Marc Anthony, Natalie Merchant and more than a dozen others.

"This evening is now dedicated to New York City and its magnificent people," said host Kevin Spacey of the tribute that had been in the works for more than a year. "John Lennon's spirit is with us tonight, and so are the spirits of 5,798 others.

"While I'm honored to be here," said Spacey, "I'm incredibly pissed off that this passionate prophet of peace and so many others aren't with us tonight because we live in an increasingly violent world."

With those words, the actor broke into a rousing version of Lennon's song "Mind Games" that brought the audience to its feet.

Boston Symphony Orchestra
members cry as Bach's
"Air on the G String" is
played in memory of the
Sept. 11 terror attack

Among the other highlights were Lennon's son Sean singing his father's vocal part from the Beatles song "This Boy," with Rufus Wainwright and Robert Schwartzman; Marc Anthony singing "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds;" Natalie Merchant singing "Nowhere Man;" and the Stone Temple Pilots singing "Revolution."

Cyndi Lauper sang "Strawberry Fields" from Central Park, where a garden is named "Strawberry Fields" in Lennon's memory.

The show ended with the ensemble singing "Give Peace A Chance," segueing into "Power to the People." As the televised show ended, the song continued as the artists paraded up and down the aisles of historic Radio City Music Hall.

Lennon's widow Yoko Ono thanked the firefighters, police officers and rescue workers for their sacrifices during the attacks on the twin toers, saying "You have restored my faith in the human race."

"As John said, 'There are no problems, only solutions,"' she said. "Let's create peace, create unity, create joy and create light. Imagine all the people, living life in peace."

The show was originally intended as a benefit for gun control but was transformed into a benefit for victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, said Executive Producer Ken Ehrlich.

"When this happened, we knew what we had to do," he said.

The show was originally set to be taped on Sept. 20 and shown on Oct. 9, which would have been Lennon's 61st birthday, but it was moved in the wake of the attacks.

Lennon, who became an outspoken and often unpopular anti-war advocate, lived in New York City the last several years of his life. He was fatally shot outside his Manhattan apartment on Dec. 8, 1980.

None of the surviving Beatles performed at Tuesday's concert, but Paul McCartney is getting ready for another benefit, that he organized, to help survivors and victims of the World Trade Center disaster.

That concert, on October 20 at Madison Square Garden in New York, will also feature performers including Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Billy Joel, David Bowie, The Who, Lenny Kravitz, Mary J. Blige and Eminem.

It will be televised by networks including MTV and VH1.

Another blue chip lineup of classic rockers is set to appear at two "Volunteers for America" benefits, organized by Tommy Shaw of Styx.

Those concerts, on October 20 in Atlanta and October 21 in Dallas, will benefit firefighters, police and American Red Cross organizations.

Participants include Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon, Survivor, Mick Jones of Foreigner, Lynyrd Skynrd, Journey, Bad Company, Kansas, Edgar Winter, John Waite, and Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad.

Comedians are also doing their part, with Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Cosby and others holding an Oct. 8 fundraiser in New York for the Twin Towers Fund and the New York Police and Fire Widows and Children's Benefit Fund.

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