Composers opt for darker elements in 9/11 commemorations

Posted on: September 8, 2011

In Thursday’s (9/8) Wall Street Journal, David Mermelstein writes, “The impulse to say something meaningful with music about the events of Sept. 11, 2001, reaches critical mass this month as three of America’s best-known composers unveil works confronting the tragedy. On Sept. 9, ‘Pieces of 9/11’ by Jake Heggie will receive its debut outside city hall in Houston. The following day, the San Francisco Opera raises the curtain on Christopher Theofanidis’s ‘Heart of a Soldier.’ And on Sept. 30, the New York Philharmonic gives the first performance of John Corigliano’s ‘One Sweet Morning.’ … Time will tell how these new works fare, but now seems an apt point to consider the pieces that have already entered the public sphere as reminders of that day.” Mermelstein considers a number of post-9/11 works by John Adams, Steve Reich, Ned Rorem, Joan Tower, Aaron Jay Kernis, and David Del Tredici. “What all these works share is a mood of lamentation. But music that dwells in overtly dark places rarely captures the public imagination. People prefer the celebratory to the lachrymose. The events of 9/11 were not without valor (the heroism of so many firefighters and police officers comes to mind), but thus far composers have focused on the losses incurred.”

Posted September 8, 2011