Review: World premiere of Julia Wolfe’s “Fire in my mouth” at New York Philharmonic

Posted on: January 28, 2019

“The composer Julia Wolfe’s new multimedia oratorio concerns the 1911 Triangle shirtwaist factory fire,” writes Anthony Tommasini in Saturday’s (1/26) New York Times. “The fire—which took the lives of 146 garment workers, most of them young immigrant women—led to changes in workplace conditions and stirred debate over contentious issues of gender, labor and immigrants’ rights…. [Those questions] hovered over the New York Philharmonic’s premiere of Ms. Wolfe’s ambitious, heartfelt, often compelling ‘Fire in my mouth’ on Thursday, a month into a partial government shutdown driven by bitterness over immigration policy…. The big things are right in this tautly structured 60-minute piece … The chorus is made up of 146 women and girls, members of the excellent chamber choir the Crossing … and the impressive Young People’s Chorus of New York City … [Music Director Jaap] van Zweden led a commanding account of a score that requires close coordination between disparate forces, and which ends with an elegiac final chorus in which the names of all 146 victims are tenderly sung.” The program also included a movement from Steven Stucky’s August 4, 1964, and Philharmonic Principal Clarinet Anthony McGill was the “superb” soloist in Copland’s Clarinet Concerto.

Posted January 28, 2019

In photo: The New York Philharmonic and two choirs, led by Music Director Jaap Van Zweden, in the world premiere of Julia Wolfe’s “Fire in my mouth” at David Geffen Hall. The multimedia oratorio also featured historical photos and film footage projected onstage. Photo: Chris Lee/New York Philharmonic