Saturday, September 10, 2011

6 Classical Music Pieces to Commemorate 9/11 - #2 On the Transmigration of Souls by John Adams

We're down to the final two pieces that I wanted to feature.  Both of them are equally amazing, but completely different.  Today, I have a very special treat for you (musicians MUST listen to this) - not only is this piece inspired by 9/11, but it is one of the most important pieces of the 21st century.  It won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003 and the original recording won 3 Grammy Awards in 2005.

On the Transmigration of Souls
by John Adams

How it was influenced by September 11:  It commemorates those who lost their lives on the 11 September 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. It also mourns on behalf of those of us left behind. It is about the nature of death. According to Adams, "Transmigration means 'the movement from one place to another' or 'the transition from one state of being to another.' But in this case I mean it to imply the movement of the soul from one state to another. And I don't just mean the transition from living to dead, but also the change that takes place within the souls of those that stay behind, of those who suffer pain and loss and then themselves come away from that experience transformed."  This work is a musical space for reflection; a meditation on an unanswerable question.

What to listen for: The stories.  The piece combines city sounds and live performances by a children's chorus, an adult chorus, and a large orchestra - with choral texts, a litany of victims, taken from newspaper memorials and the desperate missing-person fliers pervading lower Manhattan in the months following the attacks. As the piece continues to the second part, it hauntingly reveals the stories of those mundane moments in the lives of those lost in the attacks, and sets the stories of the children and families in their grief.

To me, personally, this is one of the greatest expressions of life.  What a remarkable way to describe the unknown...and it certainly is one of the greatest achievements of Minimalism.  It is one of the most intriguing and exciting pieces of our generation!

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