AUDIE CORNISH, Host:

Today, we'll be exploring the motivations behind works of music created by five classical composers in response to the 9/11 tragedies. Here's our first.

MICHAEL GORDON: I'm Michael Gordon and, in 2006, I wrote "The Sad Park." It is a string quartet written for the Kronos Quartet, who accompany the voices of three and four-year-old children and I used their voices to tell the story of what happened on September 11, 2001.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE SAD PARK")

CHILD ONE: Two evil planes broke in little pieces...

GORDON: I was just standing out in the courtyard of the school with the other parents and, basically, looked up and saw this very low-flying plane and then, boom.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GORDON: A few weeks after my son, Lev(ph), started pre-K, and his teacher would tell me, you know, that the children would be sitting around doing what they normally do and then, all of a sudden, one of them would burst out something about 9/11 and then the others would start talking about this. And she said, you know, when the children start talking about 9/11, I turn on the tape recorder and I record what they're saying.

I immediately - it was just one of those moments. I was like, let me borrow that tape for one day. I copied it onto tape. That tape just sat on my desk for several years.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE SAD PARK")

ONE: Two evil planes broke in little pieces and fire came.

GORDON: The first line, two evil planes broke in little pieces and fire came. That little piece of tape is just slowly stretched and it's repeated again and again and again. And every time it's repeated, it's stretched out.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE SAD PARK")

ONE: Two evil planes broke in little pieces and fire came.

GORDON: As I stretched out the audio, all this sound started to appear and towards the end, it sounds like there are a thousand people singing in this huge cry.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE SAD PARK")

GORDON: It's not political. It's really just - this actually happened to me and my family and my child.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE SAD PARK")

GORDON: This, in a sense, was just trying to grab onto a tiny bit of that moment and leave it as a document.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE SAD PARK")

CORNISH: This story was produced in collaboration with NPR Music. It aims to explore the motivations and processes behind works created by classical composers in response to the 9/11 tragedies. You can find longer interviews with the composers at NPRmusic.org.

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