Roxana Bajdechi had been living in the United States for just over a year on Sept. 11, 2001. At the time, she was a sophomore at Boston Conservatory. A decade later, she's a world-renowned pianist who's played for audiences from New York City to Tokyo, but the memory of that day is still vivid for her, like it is for so many others.
"I remember it being a very emotionally charged day," she said. "It stayed imprinted in my memory."
Now, the Romanian-born musician, along with Italian violinist Markus Placci, is playing a free concert at the Lawrence Public Library to remember the victims of Sept. 11.
"It's a wonderful opportunity to share music with the community there," Bajdechi said. "We've never played there before, so we're very much looking forward to meeting the audience, especially since it's a special day."
Although the day is a somber one, Bajdechi said she and Placci chose timeless music that they always "play with joy." Among the selections is music by Estonian composer Arvo Pé§rt, whose music Terri Kelley, artistic director of the fall concert series, described as classical and minimalist.
"It's simple and it's hauntingly beautiful," Kelley said. "It's just unforgettably beautiful music. It's contemplative in spirit."
The concert will also include music from the film "Schindler's List" by American composer John Williams, as well as compositions by Mozart and Brahms, which Kelley said "celebrate the endurance of the human spirit and the value and lasting, healing quality of classical music."
Kelley said she hopes the concert will be therapeutic in some way for the audience, especially since, a decade after the attacks, the memory and pain of September 11 is still so raw.
"I think that classical music can do that for us; there's something in it that goes beyond words and it somehow touches us," Kelley said. "We don't know where our soul is but when something touches it, we know it's there."
The concert not only commemorates the tenth anniversary of the attacks, but also kicks off this year's fall concert series in Lawrence. The concert at the library on Oct. 16 will feature piano duets from Diane Lim and Wayman Chin. On Nov. 13 the library will host pianist Max Levinson and cellist Allison Eldredge. A fourth concert in the series will be on April 29 at the Corpus Christi Parish at Holy Rosary Church on Essex Street in Lawrence.
Since its inception several years ago, the free concert series has attracted musicians from around the world who are eager to come to Lawrence because they've heard about how happy, engaged, and appreciative the audiences there are to hear such beautiful music. Kelley said the concerts are a great chance for people to hear the world's best musicians play for free, especially since not everyone who loves classical music has the ability to travel to Boston or New York City to listen to it. And the feeling is mutual; Kelley said the musicians are thrilled to play for Lawrence's enthusiastic audiences.
"That's what they want more than anything," Kelley said of the performers. "An audience that's appreciative. Not of them, but of the music."
Bajdechi said she hopes the music will bring an even deeper joy to the audience on September 11.
"It's really our way to try to bring something positive in people's lives that day," she said. "We're just hoping that people who come to that concert will leave feeling a little better and more comforted by our music and by being there and sharing in this moment."
If you go
What: Tenth anniversary 9/11 concert.
Where: Lawrence Public Library, 51 Lawrence St., Lawrence.
When: Sunday, Sept. 11 at 2 p.m.
Learn more: lawrencefreelibrary.org/Calendar