River City Brass will perform for Flight 93 memorial service
River City Brass artistic director James Gourlay finds the Pittsburgh band’s being asked to perform at the Flight 93 National Memorial on Sept. 11 an honor.
“The organizers of that ceremony invited us to go and perform and take part. This is the first time we’ve ever been invited to do that. We see that as a huge honor,” he says.
The annual event honors the 40 passengers and crew aboard United Flight 93 who died when four terrorists overtook the plane on Sept. 11, 2001, crashing it into a Somerset County field.
River City Brass will play before, during and after the ceremony, which is scheduled to begin at 9:45 a.m.
Musical selections include “Hymn to the Fallen,” “America the Beautiful,” “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “Going Home” and “We Shall Overcome.”
“I chose all of the music and made suggestions to the organizers,” Gourlay says.
He found inspiration by viewing the passengers’ portraits online and chose classical, patriotic and gospel music he believes is appropriate.
“The relatives of victims will be walking past and through the site,” he adds.
The band members immediately agreed to participate, and are not being paid for their performance, Gourlay says.
A native of Scotland, Gourlay became an American citizen in 2018.
“For me, as an immigrant and new American, it’s important to show solidarity with the victims’ relatives. It’s a huge honor for someone like myself to do that,” he says.
River City Brass regularly performs in Greensburg and Johnstown, both close to the Stonycreek Township community where Flight 93 crashed.
“My own personal view is I hope we can always be involved in that event. … It is hard to describe it as a celebration, but it is a celebration of the people who gave everything to save us,” Gourlay says.
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter .