At the conclusion of the astonishing "Remembering September 11" concert, held by the Wordless Music Orchestra at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Temple of Dendur on the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, the audience responded with utter eloquence: two minutes of astonished silence, followed by wild applause.
The concert, presented as a live webcast by NPR Music and Q2, can now be heard as an archive stream — and it is an unmissable event.
Led by the dynamic conductor Ryan McAdams, New York's Wordless Music Orchestra performed four works centered on the idea of loss and remembrance. The program featured the world premiere of Maxim Moston's orchestration of an arresting work by William Basinski, The Disintegration Loops.
The concert also included three pieces for string quartet: Ingram Marshall's Fog Tropes II, Osvaldo Golijov's Tenebrae and Alfred Schnittke's Collected Songs Where Every Verse Is Filled With Grief, passionately and movingly performed by violinists Keats Dieffenbach and Caroline Shaw, violist Nadia Sirota and cellist Clarice Jensen.
The concert was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Temple of Dendur, a Egyptian sandstone edifice from about 15 B.C. Now surrounded by a reflecting pool — evoking the waters of the Nile and housed within a glass atrium that overlooks Central Park — the temple is a space which lends itself beautifully to musical contemplation.
All the works on this program are haunting reflections on loss, grief and remembrance, interweaving past and present in hypnotic and moving arcs. For example, Golijov — with the violence of historical and contemporary Jerusalem in mind — loops melismatic quotations from Baroque composer François Couperin's somber Troisieme Leçon de Ténèbres.
Basinski's The Disintegration Loops had its genesis in the physical process of decay. In the midst of archiving and digitizing analog tapes from the early 1980s, the composer realized that his material was literally disintegrating, leaving eerily silent passages in the midst of lush, pastoral music — "my paradise lost," he says. He was finishing work on The Disintegration Loops as the destruction of Sept. 11 unfolded; he watched from his Brooklyn roof, just over the river from downtown Manhattan.
Osvaldo Golijov: Tenebrae
Ingram Marshall: Fog Tropes II
Alfred Schnittke: Collected Songs Where Every Verse is Filled with Grief
Performed by Wordless Music Orchestra members: Keats Dieffenbach and Caroline Shaw - violin; Nadia Sirota - viola; Clarice Jensen - cello
William Basinski: The Disintegration Loops, dlp 1.1 (world premiere orchestration by Maxim Moston)
Performed by the Wordless Music Orchestra, Ryan McAdams, conductor. Recorded by Josh Rogosin for NPR.