Music For The Day

The haunting choral piece “On The Transmigration Of Souls”, by John Adams, commissioned in the immediate wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 as a tribute to the victims and those who were left behind.

 

Performed here by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

From the Wikipedia entry:

In an interview Adams explained: “I want to avoid words like ‘requiem’ or ‘memorial’ when describing this piece because they too easily suggest conventions that this piece doesn’t share. If pressed, I’d probably call the piece a ‘memory space.’ It’s a place where you can go and be alone with your thoughts and emotions. The link to a particular historical event – in this case to 9/11 – is there if you want to contemplate it. But I hope that the piece will summon human experience that goes beyond this particular event.”

The title itself carries a certain heaviness of thought and meaning. 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 meant 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.”

I was present at the world premiere performance by the NYPO at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, in 2002. A very moving experience.

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