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"Requiem for Orlando" draws thousands in Ann Arbor

Kate Wells/Michigan Radio
"Requiem for Orlando" performance in Ann Arbor

Crowds packed Hill Auditorium Tuesday night in Ann Arbor for “Requiem for Orlando,” a community performance of Mozart’s “Requiem” to honor and mourn the victims of Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.

One of the organizers, Austin Stewart, says he was alone at his home when he first saw the news about the 49 victims gunned down at an LGBT night club. As a grad student at the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theater and Dance, Stewart says he wanted a way to bring people together.

So he and conductor Kevin Fitzgerald sent out a lot of emails, put out calls on social media, and within 48 hours they had more than 130 choir members, several soloists and some 50 orchestra musicians.

“As a proud gay man in the Ann Arbor community, this is support beyond compare,” Stewart told the audience Tuesday night. University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel spoke, as well as LGBT activist and pioneer Jim Toy.

Audience member Victoria Steele says just taking in all the news the last few days about Orlando has been “sensory overload,” but attending for the concert has been healing.

“To come here and be amongst the choir and the orchestra…music is a very helpful way to mourn and cope with such a terrible tragedy.”

Performers included local students and faculty, as well as members of Michigan symphonies in Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Rochester Hills.  

*Clarification: An earlier headline for this story indicated "hundreds" attended the event. We have changed the headline to reflect "thousands" attended the event. The auditorium seats 3500 people and was near capacity.

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.