27 September 2011

We Remember September 11

Marvin Rosen of WPRB finished a project today which was one of the greatest exhibitions of contemporary music in the modern age. For twenty-four consecutive hours he hosted a radio broadcast of music written specifically to commemorate the events of September 11th, 2001. Obviously, none of the music was more than ten years old. For a compilation of classical music, that is quite the achievement—usually with classical music, centuries are the smallest unit of measurement. Some pieces were hot off the press. My string quartet, for example, aired this afternoon; we recorded it in August.

Over the course of 24 hours, I listened to as much of the broadcast as I was able. But just the fact that there was more music written than any human could reasonably listen to made a profound statement about classical music today. The creation of classical music is very much alive. Due to widespread education and communication more people are capable of writing and recording art music than at any other age in human history. This broadcast highlighted the work of over eighty composers. Eighty. 8-0. I think even the very well educated would have tremendous difficulty naming just forty composers from any and all eras.

And what gets written has relevance to post-modern life. As Marvin pointed out several times, 9/11 has inspired more music than any other event in history. All day long I was struck by the sounds of grief and hope, terror and atonement, anguish and love, dissonance and harmony. Today I felt more than ever that the Beethovens and Bachs are still with us in the flesh.

I was also struck with how beautifully the musical community has responded to what has clearly been the moment of greatest historical significance in this new century. Not only were the compositions technically solid, but they were meaningful. While so many authors and politicians wax bitter and pessimistic over the events of the past ten years, the music played today showed a glowing optimism and profound faith in humanity.

It was an honor to participate in this broadcast with composers whose talents are so much more refined than mine. This was the first time my music has ever been broadcast on the radio, and it was humbling to have it be in such a worthy program. I hope that my music and all the other music played today helped the listeners place the events of 9/11 in a greater context. I hope they were reminded, inspired, and uplifted. I hope we helped show the relevance of our craft. And most of all, I hope that because of this broadcast the audience will grow as I have in their love and reverence for life and humanity.



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