Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Steve Reich's WTC 911

This week marks fourteen years since the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. In light of this, let’s turn our “music and war” topic this month to look at a couple of pieces inspired by this tragic day in U.S. history.

The events on September 11, 2001 were quite personal for composer Steve Reich, whose son was living in an apartment just four blocks from the World Trade Center at the time. Around 9:00am that morning, Reich received a call from his son relaying the details of the attacks. Reich instructed his son to remain on the line. The call lasted six hours.

In 2009, Reich received a commission from David Harrington of the Kronos Quartet to write a piece in commemoration of 9/11. Reich decided to make the piece personal, using a pulsing tone that sounds like a land line when left off the hook as his main theme. The piece contains various emotions in response to the 9/11 attack, including taped samples of responses to the event from firemen, neighborhood residents, and air traffic controllers. These taped selections are more of the focus in this piece, the ensemble simply providing a background and adding to the overall emotion of events. The work is titled WTC 911 and you can listen below. What do you think?

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