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Cortland native hopes singing will help healing



Published: Tue, September 10, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The service runs from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will be on a live Web cast at www.ectn.org.

By DENISE DICK

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

CORTLAND -- City native Diane Fox hopes her performance as part of the Sept. 11 commemorative service helps in the healing process.

Fox, a mezzo-soprano who lives in New Jersey next to the Lincoln Tunnel, will perform for 20 minutes beginning at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Trinity Church in New York City. The church is providing presentations, worship services and music to commemorate the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The service runs from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with a live Web cast at www.ectn.org.

Fox, 41 and a graduate of Lakeview High School, graduated from Kent State University with a degree in music. She performed at the church in 1994 as part of its classical performers series. Her father and stepmother, John and Bernadette Fox, and her mother, Virginia Larsen, still live in Cortland.

Performer and teacher

She has performed with different opera companies and now teaches voice at a conservatory in Red Bank, N.J. She was trying to arrange an audition for another performance when the attacks brought much of the city to a standstill.

A church representative asked her to perform at the Sept. 11 commemorative service, dubbed "A Day of Hope and Healing." Other performers and presentations include the Archbishop of Canterbury and Ruth Laredo, an international pianist.

"It's quite an honor, but I also feel an immense responsibility to the people I'm singing to," Fox said by telephone from her New Jersey apartment.

Woke to chaos

She woke up Sept. 11, 2001, to the sound of a bullhorn outside her window. After hearing news of the attacks from friends and on television and fearing the Lincoln Tunnel could be a terrorist target, Fox packed up some things and stayed with a friend in southern New Jersey.

Fox doesn't know anyone who was killed in the attacks, but it took several days to learn the fates of many of her friends who lived and worked in the area.

When she returned to her apartment a few days later, Fox contemplated moving out. A friend persuaded her against it. She visited the World Trade Center site two weeks after the attacks.

"It was very disorienting," Fox said. "Even though I'd been on those streets many times, you couldn't tell where you were at."

Breathing in dust from the site caused a scratch on her vocal cords. Getting into her car one day shortly after the attacks, Fox detected a putrid odor and wondered if she had stepped in something.

"We realized what we were smelling was death," she said.

It took until the spring before things in the city and with its residents started to return to normal. With all of the activity and publicity surrounding the anniversary, some of the bad feelings are starting to come back.

Although she's a transplant, Fox thinks of the city as her home and acknowledges the day and the performance will be difficult.

Finding a balance

"I can't allow myself to go to that place or I won't be able to sing," Fox said. "At the same time, it's part of my job to present music with emotions."

She tried to pick selections for her performance that reflect the mood of the service and prays she chose appropriately.

"I really believe music can really heal the soul," Fox said. "In a way, it's a ministry that you're doing."

dick@vindy.com




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