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A Tribute to John F. Kennedy

January 19, 2014 - Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston

[no_toc]The Schiller Institute Chorus, augmented by additional singers and an orchestra largely comprised of volunteers from the New England Conservatory of Music, presented Mozart’s Requiem in its entirety to an audience of 1,200 at Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross, performed exactly 50 years to the day, of a 1964 Solemn High Requiem Mass specially requested by the Kennedy family. Below you will find all information pertaining to the tribute and performance, well as the complete audio master and edited video recording.




You can hear and download the final audio master of the entire performance and tribute here (updated 03/04/2014).

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High-Quality Files, Track-Seperated:  MP3 ZIP Archive   WAV ZIP Archive


Program Overview

Master of ceremonies: Matthew Ogden
Guest speaker: Ray Flynn, former Mayor of Boston and former US ambassador to the Vatican
Featured speaker: Helga Zepp-LaRouche, President of the Schiller Institute

Greeting messages from Michael D. Higgins, President of the Republic of Ireland; Boston City Councilman Steven Murphy; and from Nicholas Di Virgilio, tenor, the only surviving soloist from the 1964 concert (see texts below).

W.A. Mozart, Requiem in D minor
Conducted by John Sigerson at A=432Hz
With Ron Williams (baritone), William Ferguson (tenor), Heather Gallagher (mezzo-soprano) and Nataly Wickham (soprano); the Schiller Institute Choir; and a specially-assembled orchestra


It is urgent to evoke again the divine spirit of beauty of Mozart’s composition in order to recreate in us the better world which both Kennedy and Mozart represent.

Helga Zepp-LaRouche, President of the Schiller Institute

Any true artist — like any true great poet — has to have the entire wellbeing not just of his own country, but of the world at heart, and not just the wellbeing, but a commitment to the improvement of the wellbeing of the entire world. I think that that’s what Kennedy’s commitment was as well. I think that is why he resonated with so many of the great artists of the time.

John Sigerson, Conductor

This was a tribute like no other, because you really felt you were in the presence of Kennedy, and the Kennedy legacy, and what he meant for Boston.

Ray Flynn, Former Boston Mayor and Former Vatican Ambassador

If sometimes our great artists have been the most critical of our society, it is because their sensitivity and their concern for justice, which must motivate any true artist, makes him aware that our nation falls short of its highest potential.

John F. Kennedy, President of the United States of America, 1963


Setting the Stage

Matthew Ogden

MATTHEW OGDEN: Good afternoon. My name is Matthew Ogden and on behalf of the Schiller Institute, it is my great honor to welcome all of you to the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, for this fiftieth anniversary performance of the Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Requiem Mass in honor of our late President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. We are very grateful today to the Archdiocese of Boston, to Cardinal Seán O’Malley, and most especially to Leo Abbott, music director of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, for the opportunity to host this historic event.

On January 19th, 1964, fifty years ago today, this Cathedral was filled to capacity, as 1800 people gathered here to hear Maestro Erich Leinsdorf conduct the Boston Symphony Orchestra and a combined chorus of 180 singers, as they performed the Mozart Requiem Mass. Jacqueline Kennedy and other members of the Kennedy family were seated right here, in the front pew of the Cathedral. Another 3,000 people were gathered outside, unable to get in, while millions more watched the performance over a live, nationwide television broadcast.

Today you will hear the Schiller Institute Chorus, together with soloists and an orchestra assembled especially for this occasion, under the direction of our conduct John Sigerson. This chorus also performed the Mozart Requiemrecently, in the Washington, D.C. area, on November 22nd, the fiftieth anniversary of President Kennedy’s death.

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Nicholas Di Virgilio cited

OGDEN: And since that concert, we have had the fortune of coming into contact with a very special person, Mr. Nicholas Di Virgilio, who was the tenor soloist here, during the 1964 performance, fifty years ago. Unfortunately, due to health reasons, Mr. Di Virgilio could not join us here today, but he sent this note of remembrance, which he wanted to share with all of you. He says:

“The day of the memorial mass at Holy Cross Cathedral was somber, to say the least, and Maestro Leinsdorf’s comment before the quick tempo run-through was that he chose Mozart’s Requiem because both men were ‘young’ at death, and for that reason appropriate for the occasion. Cardinal Cushing was the officiate aided by the Brother Monks singing Gregorian Chant after which each appropriate chant the Boston Symphony, large choral group, and we soloists, Sara Mae Endich, Eunice Alberts, Mac Morgon, and I, sang Mozart’s corresponding part of the Mass.

“The most telling moment for me was during the soloists’ Benedictus section, which came during the communion distribution at the altar rail. The Kennedy family and close relatives, as well as close friends, came to the altar to receive communion. Jacqueline Kennedy came to the altar and knelt no more than 9 feet in front of me. To me the Benedictus is the most beautiful and most moving part of Mozart’s Mass and a joy to sing under ordinary circumstances.

“Seeing her kneeling in prayer and seeing mascara streaming down her cheeks during the Benedictus struck me with such a strong emotional bolt that I had no recollection of having sung. The Cathedral was filled to capacity by an invited congregation, the only member absent was Robert Kennedy who was in the Far East.

“Congratulations to all of you in remembering this occasion in this very appropriate way. My best wishes to you and all pertaining to this project.”

Nicholas Di Virgilio, January 5, 2014

Tenor soloist, in the January 19th, 1964 performance.

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Cardinal Cushing cited

OGDEN: Now, as you just heard Mr. Di Virgilio describe, the 1964 performance took place as part of a solemn pontifical mass, celebrated by Richard Cardinal Cushing, who was Archbishop of the Boston Archdiocese at the time. This was the first time, Mozart’s Requiem has been performed as part of the full Catholic liturgy in the United States.

After the mass was concluded, Cardinal Cushing delivered a short eulogy for Kennedy, which I’d like to read part of for you, right now. He said the following:

“Boston’s own John Fitzgerald Kennedy and his dear Jacqueline enriched the White House with the best. During the comparatively brief residence therein, they frequently filled that Presidential mansion with the inspiration of Classical entertainment, presented before kings and queens, princes and paupers, who came in an endless procession to pay their respects to the leader of the world’s most powerful nation….

No tribute, therefore, my dearly beloved, to our departed President and his charming wife, could be more fitting than the spiritual, artistic, and the liturgical service of this morning….

No one will fail to note also the appropriateness of selecting Mozart’s Requiem for America’s martyred President…. The genius of art and the genius of leadership are joined together in this single event.

Separated by centuries, they were both touched by a creative instinct uncommon in any generation; both brought out of their youth a shining light which will illumine the ages; both were summoned to eternity at a moment which to us mortals certainly seems untimely.

The President had hardly started on his most promising career to guard the country and the world for peace; Mozart died before he finished his Requiem. Yet the memory of men still enshrines both names among the great of this world. Today, in the unforgettable music of Mozart, we have heard again in our hearts the stirring voice of our once-youthful leader; in the artistic expression of Mozart we have caught the unmistakable accent of John F. Kennedy. The destiny of greatness which they shared brings them together in the presence of the God of the altar, Who so richly endowed them with His gifts….”

And Cardinal Cushing concluded,

“Let this day, my beloved, be for us all, a lasting remembrance of the manner in which the goodness of the Creator touches again, and again, the life and the history of man as it is recorded in time. Just as death is our common lot, life is our common experience. If from death comes sorrow, we must remember that out of life, comes beauty and joy and love and all else that is a foretaste of eternity.”

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Greeting from Michael D. Higgins, President of the Republic of Ireland

OGDEN: Now, we have a number of featured guests joining us today, whom I will introduce in just a moment, but first I would like to read one written greeting, which has come in, which I think President Kennedy would especially appreciate, being, as many people here know, a very proud Irish Catholic, whose family was originally forced to emigrate to Boston to escape the great famine of 1848. In fact, when Kennedy made his famous trip to Ireland in the spring of 1963, he was the first foreign head of state of a great power to visit that country, since it had gained its independence from the British. He addressed the Dáil, the Irish Parliament in Dublin, he visited Galway, Limerick, Cork, and his ancestral home in County Wexford.

So our first greeting comes in from Michael D. Higgins, the President of the Republic of Ireland, who says, simply:

“Michael D Higgins, President of the Republic of Ireland, extends his best wishes for the memorial concert of the martyred son of Ireland, U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.”

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Ambassador Raymond Flynn

Next, I would like to ask Ambassador Flynn to approach the podium. While he’s coming up, I can tell you that Mr. Raymond Flynn is the former Mayor of the City of Boston, serving as Mayor from 1984 to 1993. After serving as Mayor, he was then appointed U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, a post that he served in from 1993 to 1997. So it’s my great pleasure to introduce to you, Ambassador Raymond Flynn. [applause]

AMBASSADOR RAYMOND FLYNN: Thank you, good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to Boston. Welcome to this historic Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, built by immigrants who came to this country and settled in Boston, and history books are filled with their accomplishments, their successes, their families.

And so, we are so proud that all of you, and particularly this ensemble could be with us here on this very historic day. This Cathedral has hosted many incredible events, talking about the John Kennedy visit here, and John Kennedy’s memorial service here in 1964. I was here, and you mentioned Richard Cardinal Cushing. I guess in South Boston, where I’m from, they say my claim to fame, not Mayor, not the United States Ambassador, but I used to be Richard Cardinal Cushing’s newspaper boy — I used to sell newspapers to him. Well, he was here; this Cathedral is full of history. And I know I speak for all the people of the Boston when I welcome you here, thank you for being here, and thank you for sharing your talents on this historic day that meant so much to the people of the City of Boston. So have a wonderful concert, have a wonderful afternoon, welcome to Boston. I’m sure I speak on behalf of the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston Seán Patrick O’Malley, a wonderful, wonderful leader of the Roman Catholic Church, in welcoming you all, as well as the Pastor here, Kevin O’Leary here at the Cathedral, welcoming you all. And let’s have a great concert. God bless all of you. Thank you. [applause]

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Stephen J. Murphy cited

OGDEN: Thank you very much, Ambassador Flynn.

Next, we have a special greeting from Stephen J. Murphy, who’s a City Councilman-at-large for the City of Boston, and until last year, served as President of the Boston City Council.

Mr. Murphy says the following:

“Dear Members of the Schiller Institute and Guests,

“It is with deepest sincerity that I thank you for organizing a tribute to President John F. Kennedy, through the performance of Mozart’s Requiem in D minor on this fiftieth anniversary of the pontifical mass, held in the aftermath of President Kennedy’s assassination.

“John F. Kennedy’s time in office saw the American people through challenges and triumphs that highlighted the fortitude and the imagination of our people. The circumstances of our lives may have changed, but the ideals President Kennedy instilled in our nation still apply. It is vital that recognize our roles and responsibilities as citizens, that protect and promote the rights of anyone who desires to be free. When we rise up as individuals, we become one nation, strong and inspiring. I have no doubt that the memory of John F. Kennedy will be truly honored by this performance, and it is my sincere hope that those in attendance leave with the desire to recommit to the values that led and lead this great nation, during a time of progress and achievement.

“Sincerely, Stephen J. Murphy

“Boston City Councilor-at-Large”

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Helga Zepp-LaRouche

OGDEN: And finally, I have the great pleasure to introduce to you our featured speaker here, the founder of the Schiller Institute, Mrs. Helga Zepp-LaRouche, who will make a few opening remarks before we begin the program.

HELGA ZEPP-LAROUCHE: It is necessary to commemorate the celebration of Mozart’s Requiem which was performed for John F. Kennedy, fifty years ago in this cathedral. It is urgent to evoke again the divine spirit of beauty of Mozart’s composition in order to reconnect us with the better world which both Kennedy and Mozart represent. His assassination marks the deep cut, the change of paradigm of which the world suffers since. For the short years of his leadership, the nation and the world were inspired by his trust in the limitless perfectibility of man and his ability to face all challenges, due to the confidence in God, as well as in the creative ability of man to apply scientific and technological progress for the benefit of mankind.

He was committed to guide America to contribute to the elimination of poverty in the whole world and to build a lasting peace among all nations. With his assassination, not only he was murdered, but the hope to achieve these goals. Today, fifty years later world peace is in danger, large parts of the world are gripped by despair and poverty, and many youth are lacking a future.

Recently, Pope Francis issued the Apostolic writing Evangelii Gaudium in which he insisted that the Sixth Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” must also be applied to the economy and that we are living today under an economic system which idolizes money and which does kill people. He then called on the political leaders of today, to have an energetic change in their basic attitude and called on them to change that economic system with decisiveness and vision, into one that provides for the welfare of all people on the planet. In Kennedy’s memory, we must, therefore, not only mourn the torment of the world, but it is our responsibility to follow the call of Pope Francis, to inspire new hope for mankind, by bringing the minds of people together, and generate a movement of inspiration devoted to bring about a revival of humanity from the looming destruction.

Let us therefore participate in this concert with the solemn commitment, to passionately devote ourselves to Kennedy’s vision, and carry out his vision for the future, and in that way, partake in his immortality. [applause]

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On JFK’s New Frontier

OGDEN: Thank you very much, Helga.

Now, before we begin the music to please remind people to turn off your cell phones. And I would like to extend an invitation on behalf of the Schiller Institute, to everybody here to come to the reception which will be immediately following the concert. The reception will take place downstairs.

Now, as many people may remember, just as Franklin Roosevelt’s administration was known as the “New Deal,” John F. Kennedy’s administration was known as the “New Frontier.”

And President Kennedy made this the theme of his Presidency from the very first speech he made in his Presidential career, the speech that he delivered on the occasion of his acceptance of the Democratic nomination on July 15th, 1960s. He caused people to remember, that the history of the United States has been one of pioneers constantly striving to conquer the land, the harness the rivers, to cultivate the soil, and to explore the unknown, from the time that John Winthrop first founded the city upon a hill, right here in Boston. That has been the history of our nation.

What President Kennedy asked of the American people, when he first announced his campaign for the Presidency, as the Democratic nominee, was that this New Frontier, this idea of always conquering the unknown, not be something that was in the past, not be something that was merely in the history of our nation, but that today we stand on the edge of a new frontier, a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils, a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats. He said, “Beyond that frontier are the uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus. I am asking each of you to be the pioneers on that new frontier.”

And this theme of the New Frontier pervaded and defined John F. Kennedy’s Presidency, all the way to the point of his assassination. You are about to hear a speech that John F. Kennedy delivered on November 21st, 2963, the last speech that he made. And I ask you to think, about how John F. Kennedy’s words apply, perhaps even more urgently, to what we are asked to do today.

Thank you very much. [applause]

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Voice of John F. Kennedy

From President Kennedy’s Inauguration remarks on January 20, 1961, and then from his remarks at the dedication of the Aerospace Medical Health Center, San Antonio, Texas, November 21, 1963:

“[M]an holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty…. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths…”

“For more than three years I have spoken about the New Frontier. This is not a partisan term, and it is not the exclusive property of Republicans or Democrats. It refers, instead, to this Nation’s place in history, to the fact that we do stand on the edge of a great new era, filled with both crisis and opportunity, an era to be characterized by achievement and by challenge. It is an era which calls for action and for the best efforts of all those who would test the unknown and the uncertain in every phase of human endeavor. It is a time for pathfinders and pioneers….

“There will be setbacks and frustrations and disappointments. There will be, as there always are, pressures in this country to do less in this area as in so many others, and temptations to do something else that is perhaps easier. But this research here must go on. This space effort must go on. The conquest of space must and will go ahead. That much we know. That much we can say with confidence and conviction.

“Frank O’Connor, the Irish writer, tells in one of his books how, as a boy, he and his friends would make their way across the countryside, and when they came to an orchard wall that seemed too high and too doubtful to try and too difficult to permit their voyage to continue, they took off their hats and tossed them over the wall–and then they had no choice but to follow them.

“This Nation has tossed its cap over the wall of space, and we have no choice but to follow it. Whatever the difficulties, they will be overcome. Whatever the hazards, they must be guarded against. With … the help and support of all Americans, we will climb this wall with safety and with speed–and we shall then explore the wonders on the other side.

“Thank you.”

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Media echoes

Executive Intelligence Review – January 20, 2014
Concert in Memory of JFK: Immortality in the Presidency
By Dennis Speed

The Boston Pilot – January 24, 2014
Kennedy’s Boston requiem Mass remembered at cathedral
By Christopher S. Pineo

The Boston Musical Intelligencer – January 20, 2014
JFK Remembered in Musical Tribute
By Lee Eiseman


Original Commemorative Program (PDF)

Full Length Mastered Audio (MP3)

Requiem Performance Tracks:  MP3 ZIP Archive   WAV ZIP Archive

Downloads for CD, DVD, and BluRay coming soon!

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