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Steve Reich's "WTC 9/11" Album Cover Revealed

  • Wednesday, July 20, 2011
    Steve Reich's "WTC 9/11" Album Cover Revealed

    Earlier this month came news of the forthcoming Nonesuch release of Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Steve Reich’s WTC 9/11 on September 6 September 20, 2011. Now comes the album's cover, pictured at left. The album marks the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, which is the subject of Reich’s piece and, accordingly, its cover, which features an indelible image of the attacks captured by photographer Masatomo Kuriya. WTC 9/11 is scored for three string quartets, all performed here by Kronos Quartet, and pre-recorded voices. The album also includes Reich’s Mallet Quartet, performed by Sō Percussion, and Dance Patterns, featuring members of Steve Reich and Musicians, as well as a DVD with a live performance of Mallet Quartet by Sō Percussion. The CD/DVD may be pre-ordered now in the Nonesuch Store.

    Musicologist Christian Carey of Sequenza21, which debuted the cover image earlier today, writes: "For those who’ve tired of the languid sentimentality and unfortunate jingoism that has too often been attached to 9/11 by those who’ve been witnesses from a distance. Reich’s response is an affecting tribute, both to those lost and to the New Yorkers left behind."

    WTC 9/11 (2010) reflects on the World Trade Center attacks of September 11, 2001, when Reich and his family lived only four blocks away from the site of the tragedy. “On 9/11 we were in Vermont, but our son, granddaughter, and daughter-in-law were all in our apartment. Our phone connection stayed open for six hours and our next-door neighbors were finally able to drive north out of the city with their family and ours. For us, 9/11 was not a media event,” the composer says.

    The piece is scored for three string quartets; Kronos recorded all three parts for the album. WTC 9/11 also uses pre-recorded voices, the speakers’ final vowels and consonants elongated in a stop-motion sound technique that Reich says is the “means of connecting one person to another—harmonically.” Those voices and their texts belong to NORAD air traffic controllers, as they raised the alert that the airplanes were off course; FDNY workers on the scene; friends and former neighbors of the Reichs, recalling that day; and women who kept vigil, or Shmira, over the dead in a tent outside the Medical Examiner's office, reading Psalms or Biblical passages. The relationship between Steve Reich and Kronos Quartet spans more than 20 years. This is the third quartet the composer has written for Kronos; all three have been recorded by Nonesuch.

    Mallet Quartet (2009), co-commissioned and performed by Sō Percussion, is scored for two vibraphones and two five-octave marimbas. The New York Times said of a recent Carnegie Hall performance: “Sō Percussion’s energetic account…pointed up one of Mr. Reich’s current modes of propulsion: a two-tiered approach in which the rhythmically repetitive backdrop that listeners hear as Minimalist (and as the music’s distinctively Reichian signature) is offset by restless, melodically adventurous top lines. There were other contrasts here: the repeating figures, for marimbas, were dark and subdued, with a warm, wooden tone; the themes, played on vibraphones, were cool, bright and lively.”

    Dance Patterns (2002) is Reich’s contribution to Thierry de Mey’s film Counterphrases of Anne Terese de Keersmaeker’s Choreography, for which several composers wrote short pieces. While the film was shown, the music was performed live by the Ictus Ensemble, which commissioned all the music. Scored for vibraphones, xylophones, and pianos, Dance Patterns features members of Steve Reich and Musicians on the Nonesuch recording.

    To reserve a copy of the WTC 9/11 / Mallet Quartet / Dance Patterns CD/DVD, head to the Nonesuch Store now.

on July 20, 2011 - 2:06pm
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Earlier this month came news of the forthcoming Nonesuch release of Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Steve Reich’s WTC 9/11 on September 6 September 20, 2011. Now comes the album's cover, pictured at left. The album marks the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, which is the subject of Reich’s piece and, accordingly, its cover, which features an indelible image of the attacks captured by photographer Masatomo Kuriya. WTC 9/11 is scored for three string quartets, all performed here by Kronos Quartet, and pre-recorded voices. The album also includes Reich’s Mallet Quartet, performed by Sō Percussion, and Dance Patterns, featuring members of Steve Reich and Musicians, as well as a DVD with a live performance of Mallet Quartet by Sō Percussion. The CD/DVD may be pre-ordered now in the Nonesuch Store.

Musicologist Christian Carey of Sequenza21, which debuted the cover image earlier today, writes: "For those who’ve tired of the languid sentimentality and unfortunate jingoism that has too often been attached to 9/11 by those who’ve been witnesses from a distance. Reich’s response is an affecting tribute, both to those lost and to the New Yorkers left behind."

WTC 9/11 (2010) reflects on the World Trade Center attacks of September 11, 2001, when Reich and his family lived only four blocks away from the site of the tragedy. “On 9/11 we were in Vermont, but our son, granddaughter, and daughter-in-law were all in our apartment. Our phone connection stayed open for six hours and our next-door neighbors were finally able to drive north out of the city with their family and ours. For us, 9/11 was not a media event,” the composer says.

The piece is scored for three string quartets; Kronos recorded all three parts for the album. WTC 9/11 also uses pre-recorded voices, the speakers’ final vowels and consonants elongated in a stop-motion sound technique that Reich says is the “means of connecting one person to another—harmonically.” Those voices and their texts belong to NORAD air traffic controllers, as they raised the alert that the airplanes were off course; FDNY workers on the scene; friends and former neighbors of the Reichs, recalling that day; and women who kept vigil, or Shmira, over the dead in a tent outside the Medical Examiner's office, reading Psalms or Biblical passages. The relationship between Steve Reich and Kronos Quartet spans more than 20 years. This is the third quartet the composer has written for Kronos; all three have been recorded by Nonesuch.

Mallet Quartet (2009), co-commissioned and performed by Sō Percussion, is scored for two vibraphones and two five-octave marimbas. The New York Times said of a recent Carnegie Hall performance: “Sō Percussion’s energetic account…pointed up one of Mr. Reich’s current modes of propulsion: a two-tiered approach in which the rhythmically repetitive backdrop that listeners hear as Minimalist (and as the music’s distinctively Reichian signature) is offset by restless, melodically adventurous top lines. There were other contrasts here: the repeating figures, for marimbas, were dark and subdued, with a warm, wooden tone; the themes, played on vibraphones, were cool, bright and lively.”

Dance Patterns (2002) is Reich’s contribution to Thierry de Mey’s film Counterphrases of Anne Terese de Keersmaeker’s Choreography, for which several composers wrote short pieces. While the film was shown, the music was performed live by the Ictus Ensemble, which commissioned all the music. Scored for vibraphones, xylophones, and pianos, Dance Patterns features members of Steve Reich and Musicians on the Nonesuch recording.

To reserve a copy of the WTC 9/11 / Mallet Quartet / Dance Patterns CD/DVD, head to the Nonesuch Store now.

Publish date: 
Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - 10:00
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Steve Reich: "WTC 9/11" [former cover]

Comments

Always look forward to new works by Reich. However, your art direction is vile. On one level it's pitifully ham-fisted, on another despicably exploitive. I put this on the same plane with the ghouls near the WTC site who sell photo albums of the burning towers.I always thought Nonesuch was above this kind of crass marketing. Disappointing.

I agree totally with Craig's comments. Reich is one of the great geniuses of our time and his work is above this sort of shoddy, exploitative stuff.

Agreed with Craig. Rubbish.

I am in total agreement with Mr. Zeichner. I think you may have broken new ground. This is the first truly despicable classical album cover that I have ever seen.

I disagree. Seems appropriately shoddy and exploitative to me.

YIKES. Who thought that album cover was in any way appropriate? The scandal will surely generate sales.... sigh...

I'm actually a bit surprised about all the "controversy" over this album cover in the comments here. Let me get this straight? It's exploitative because it ACTUALLY shows what the piece is about? I'm a proud American who would be very offended if I thought such a thing was disgracing or disparaging in any way. Personally, I think they ought to show these images on TV every 9/11 so we never forget. I don't think we see them enough and quite frankly, far too many Americans have let the tragedy fade from their consciousness. To the critics, what should be on the cover? Seriously, I don't get it? Do we live in such a PC world that we can't face reality? It's a shame this is even a controversy.

As for the music itself, I heard the West Coast premiere of WTC 9/11 in April, and as a die-hard Reich fan, I have to say that I was a bit disappointed (it pains me to say this). Kronos said that they asked Reich for a companion piece to Different Trains, which would be of the same weight and importance. Clearly the subject matter is significant in that regard, but this work is no Different Trains, I'm said to say. It came off as an imitation of the masterwork and was more of a parody of itself. I hope my harsh assessment changes after multiple listening once the recording is released, but I am doubtful. To clarify, this is not bad music. It's Steve Reich so it's going to be good, but in my opinion, it's not anywhere near close to his best. I only wish the music was as powerful as the image on the cover. I really wanted this to be one of his greatest pieces. Also keep in mind that I hold Reich to a very high standard because he is a genius and is so capable of great things. On the other hand, I have heard audio from a live performance of the Mallet Quartet and I enjoyed it very much so I'm looking forward to hearing a professional recording as well as the other piece. This disc will be a welcome addition to my Steve Reich collection.

I tend to agree with Craig Zeichner, but... I'm curious about the cover as it probably expresses some thoughts or a specific opinion possibly also of Mr Reich and the Kronos Quartet. I can imagine that it is important to keep remembering the 'big evil'. And why not show that in its most banal way. Any abstract representation of that event might bring nuances where nuances are simply not justified. So yes it is despicable but isn't the event itself the utmost despicable? I don't think it is a marketing idea. That would be too absurd and indeed not like Nonesuch. So I would like to try to judge it from a different perspective.

I wasn't entirely sure at first this wasn't hosted on Comedy Central as some kind of parody (Different Different Trains?). But the cover is hideous and shockingly stupid. I was shaking my head in disbelief when I saw this. No one rocks a tragedy quite like Steve Reich! I seriously can't believe this project is for real and just how gross this cover is. What is on the back? Images of people jumping from the towers? Despicable. I am not a Steve Reich hater by any means (at times in my life his music has meant quite a bit to me) but this whole thing is creepy and the cover is dreadful.

When did Nonesuch hire Jerry Bruckheimer?

I hope you seriously consider re-issuing this release with a more suitable cover. The current version is clearly a mistake.

Not to take away from photographer Kuriya's work but ... this cover
is far from the transcendent and inclusive, but, rather, lies squarely
in the narrow beat of "media event". Really, just "News of the World"
stuff.

"For us, 9/11 was not a media event." - Steve Reich

Yup, so naturally you put a picture of a plane crashing into the towers, where everyone on board met a fiery death on your new CD and DVD, and then plan to release it a few days before 9/11. All the while, your label blogs about it and promotes it like this is some kind of achievement worthy of praise and honor. Yup, not a media event here.

You can't be serious Mr. Reich. Shame on you, the Kronos Quartet and Nonesuch for capitalizing on this. It is truly vile.

I simply refuse to believe that no one objected to that image being the cover, or voiced an opinion of dissent. Or perhaps it was done because you all knew it would illicit a response. Maybe the rationale behind it was that it would get people to talk about it. The old adage of "there's no such thing as bad publicity". Well, to that end you've succeeded. Give yourselves a pat on the back. However Mr. Reich, you've sullied your name in the process. Congratulations, I'm sure Rudy Giuliani would approve of the cover art of your new project.

This is a terrible cover. I would have been interested in hearing the CD, but now I will not. Using this image to try to sell the music is a terrible idea. Please recall this cover.

I don't see the problem. The piece is about 9/11 and the photos is of 9/11. What's the big fuss all about?

If this was a piece about World War II there might be a shot of Hiroshima or London being bombed. People are WAY too sensitive.

The iconic image instantly brings the visceral reaction we all had on that horrible day. There is nothing wrong with using this particularly dark and dreary photo of that particularly dark and terrible tragedy as the cover, since the music commemorates the victims and their survivors. That photo is an artistic choice presumably deliberate in evoking the emotion intended by the composer. However, other choices could have been made, and it seems the audience commenting above would have prefered such. For example, Angel Records didn't find it necessary to depict the horrors of the Warsaw Uprising on the LP cover of Schoenberg's "Survivor in Warsaw" --a self-portrait of the composer was deemed more appropriate. Maybe Mr. Riley doesn't paint.

Its too bad he doesn't. Riley's compositions are tedious, boring, repetitive, more machine-like than human in their feeling of pre-programmed determinacy. The moment depicted in the photograph is the worst-case scenario of a feeling familiar whenever Reich first opens a piece: we are no longer free, we are locked in to the inevitable predictable inescapable banality of repeating loops, each passage as if another Groundhog Day after Groundhog Day after Groundhog Day. But who would want to listen to recurring loops of Ground Zero Day Ground Zero Day Ground Zero Day? The image and Reich's composition style promise to freeze us in that terrible feeling and moment forever.

Perhaps those directly bereft of loved ones from this horrible event want or need some literal remembrance, but personally I would expect the need for healing and to make life for the living would drive audiences towards more post-911 perspectives, with some musical feeling of rebirth or rebuilding or recovery and something more human on the cover to carry us along in that process. I wonder if Steve Reich has ever tried painting? Surely his paintings would sound better than his quartets, and for those above who actually like his music, the need for a more palatable CD cover seems the consensus.

I think everyone agrees it could have been done differently. Being a huge fan of Steve Reich's music, I too am dissapointed, as the design and the colors don't seem to fit my mental image that's created from the music. I think it conveys an intent that may not actually be there. Now, if it were just the clouds, it could show some power without the reveal of them wanting to find something that would create power....hard to explain, but it seems to cancel itself out nevertheless; considering the title already had so much weight to it. But then again, I'm not the artist....

In my opinion, the cover simply isn't very well done. I expected it to elicit some sort of emotional response (I'm certain that was the intent), however the framing and dirt/grime/burned effect took an image that is etched clearly and powerfully in our emotional psyche and made it dull, obscured, forgettable.

I'm surprised at all the negative reaction to the project and the image on the cover. It seems everyone assumes this work (music and cover) reflects nothing more than a marketing effort rather than artistic expression. A creative work is successful when it provokes a response. That seems to be working in this instance. A creative work is not required to make the audience happy, warm, and think of fuzzy little puppies. I'm surprised that comments do not engage in a thoughtful discussion about the image, how it makes you feel and how it may be appropriate for the work it surrounds. For me, the image is compelling. Emotions of that horrible event rise to the surface and I think about the victims, their families, the physical and psychological devastation that followed the instance captured in the photo. Quite frankly, this makes me feel compelled to listen to the creative work and then attempt to understand the correlation between the sounds and this image. As a creative person, myself, I will respect the decisions of the artist before having the opportunity to fully immerse myself into the work - the entire work - and come to a final conclusion later, after the experience is complete. Then I can feel confident in my reaction and thoughts - my critique - for the work as a whole.

Steve Reich said, ""For us, 9/11 was not a media event." WAS not, past tense, but now, 9/11 IS a media event. Present tense - His media: the composition, the CD, the cover, the promotion, the release date. Recall the cover.

"Quite frankly, this makes me feel compelled to listen to the creative work and then attempt to understand the correlation between the sounds and this image."

A slapdash Photoshop filter can do that to a man...

Cover looks extra-reverent with a 'PRE-ORDER' banner slapped across it. No media events here!
http://www.nonesuch.com/albums/wtc-911-mallet-quartet-dance-patterns

It seems that Will Wilkin doesn't know the difference between Terry Riley and Steve Reich. To him, they are both the same composer. He then goes on to say how terrible Reich's music is. I guess in his world, "minimalists" (whatever that means) are interchangeable. Anyone who has actually spent any time listening to the music of Terry Riley and Steve Reich quickly realizes that whatever similarities there may be, they are negligible and the differences are far greater. It's laughable that these two composers are even confused, but that's what happens when you only have a surface level "text book" understanding an no actual listening experience. Yeah, we know Steve Reich played on the premiere of Riley's "In C" and it was his idea to employ "the pulse." I guess their music is the same? What kind of logic is that? Of course, even if "In C" (1964) resembled something like Reich's "Piano Phase" or "Violin Phase" which were written shortly thereafter in 1967 (which it doesn't), styles evolved and composers don't follow the same musical trajectory. Go listen to Riley's "Descending Moonshine Dervishes" (1975) and compare it to Reich's "Music for 18 Musicians" (1974-76). Then try Riley's "The Harp of New Albion" (1986) and Reich's "Electric Counterpoint" (1987). Finally, compare any of the works either has written for Kronos Quartet. These include: Riley's "Sunrise Of The Planetary Dream Collector" (1980), "G-Song" (1980), "Cadenza on the Night Plain" (1983-84), "Salome Dances for Peace" (1985-87), "The Sands" (1990), "Requiem for Adam" (1998), "Sun Rings" (2003), "The Cusp of Magic" (2004) and Reich's "Different Trains" (1988), "Triple Quartet" (1998), or "WTC 9/11" (2010). If there is any confusion between the works of either composer, I can definitively state that your ears are broken.

What I want to know is, why the separate announcement specifically about the CD cover? The CD release itself was announced on July 6, and then on July 20 the album cover was "revealed" here and "debuted" over at Sequenza21. Obviously, Nonesuch is trying to put a lot of focus on this cover. I just don't understand the goal.

Announcing an album and then later unveiling the cover art is VERY common. This happens with rock music ALL THE TIME. I can think of two instances just this past week or so where I've seen it. It's called marketing and it's not a bad thing. We want this great music to be successful, right? The cover does not need to be some profound statement for music labels do this. Most of the time, it isn't. People are reading way too much into this. If Nonesuch were smart, they would use the same tactic whether the cover was controversial or not. And again, why this is controversial makes no sense to me.

"I just don't understand the goal."

It's almost like it's, you know, hype. Like a 'media event.'

Kurt, thanks for the info. A cover unveil is not usually done in the classical realm, to my knowledge, which I think is another reason why this is getting so much attention.

That's about the level of outrage I'm able to summon on the matter. Definitely an ugly, overblown cover. That said the actual work will live on digitally and in performance both longer & more widely than will the album cover that packages it. People pissed off about the insensitivity of an album cover ought redirect their energy towards e.g. the insensitivity of endlessly wasting American lives and money abroad in the name of retaliation (& no, that isn't a false binary: pointless expressions of outrage necessarily dilute the energy and conversational space needed for legitimate ones)

Again, I think the artwork is appropriately tacky, in keeping with the work itself. I didn't need another sign that I should keep away from it, but I appreciate the thoroughness that Nonesuch is embracing.

People pissed off about people pissed off about a very, very stupid album cover are incapable of detecting irony.

Maybe the use of Masatomo Kuriya's iconic image, with this tacky sepia tone, darkened skies (which were crystal clear, blue), and those horizontal lines; which to me, being a 26 year old red blooded male, conjure images of war video games like 'Call of Duty' (a simple google image search for "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare" will yield results showing those horizontal lines over the words "modern warfare" in night visionish print on the game's logo), maybe this tasteless image here is meant to depict how the propaganda war machine tastelessly used this tragic event to perpetuate a needless and costly war by constantly administering unhealthy doses of fear to the American people. But we don't know yet because we haven't heard the piece. So we aren't sure.

the problem as i see it is a question of ownership. tragedies that involve other people should only be addressed tangentially, in my opinion; otherwise you run the risk of saying not “this is what this means to me”, but “this is what this means”, i.e. asserting ownership over the story. music, even music with text, is by nature tangential — it’s always at least partially in the realm of the implicit; content and form are generally indistinguishable and a lot of the ‘meaning’ is in the ear of the listener. so, to attach such an explicit image to this piece just feels cheap to me, reductive. obviously 9/11 means a lot of different things to different people. we don’t want to be told how to feel about it, we’re just interested in how Reich has personally received it.

(cross-posted from andres.com)

While Dan makes an interesting point as a general statement, I think it's completely irrelevant to Reich's work if you are familiar with what he does. In a number of works, Reich has approached this as more of an impartial documentarian and has a history of doing so. He lets the material speak for the subject matter and the listener have their own personal response. What Reich does is juxtapose various speech fragments largely from different interviews to "document" it. In Different Trains he has the account of Americans riding the railroads vs. European Jews riding "different trains" during the same time and under very different circumstances. In the video opera The Cave, which he did with his wife Beryl Korot, they present the widely different interpretations that Israelis, Palestinians and Americans have about the story of Abraham/Ibrahim. Whereas Middle Eastern Jews and Muslims have their own perspective about the religious implications of the story, names like Abraham and Ishmael conjure Abraham Lincoln and Moby-Dick for Americans. Reich and Korot don't tell us what to think. They tell us what others think and demonstrate the variety of points of view. In their other video opera Three Tales, they document the implications of the evolution of technology over approximately a hundred year period by focusing on three different things: the Hindenburg explosion, nuclear detonation testings on Bikini Atoll, and the cloning of the sheep Dolly. As with the other works, this is done using interview fragments from "documentary" sources. Keeping with this tradition WTC 9/11 uses recordings from NORAD and FDNY from 9/11 as well as interviews from Manhattan residents who lived through the ordeal and some recordings of singing from Psalms and the Torah.

Dan suggests that "we don’t want to be told how to feel about it, we’re just interested in how Reich has personally received it" Well, neither is happening here. Reich is not telling us how to feel about it, nor is he telling us how he specifically feels about it. He is simply documenting the event like a good journalist does by presenting the information. With that in mind, what is wrong with having a "documentary" photo of the event on the album cover? That seems entirely appropriate. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that not having such a photo would be entirely inappropriate and incongruous with the rest of the presentation.

There is certainly a disconnection between the subtle artistic beauty of the WTC 9/11 piece (I was at the UK premier) and the artwork produced for use on the cover. This is a real shame, especially for a company that got it so very right with the “Different Trains” package.

@Kurt - my problem, perhaps shared by others, is that this isn't a documentary image. It's based on a documentary photo, yes, but what's here has been cropped, recoloured and manipulated (all at the safe, bloodless and easy remove provided by digital software) into something purely intended to tweak our emotional responses in a pre-ordained way. There's no complexity, depth or ambiguity (and hence no reality, humanity or art) to the image here: it transforms unimaginable human torment into kitsch melodrama.

Kurt Mortensen asks: "With that in mind, what is wrong with having a "documentary" photo of the event on the album cover?"

uh... that isn't a "documentary" photo. The sky was blue that day, not whatever that brown murky photoshop filter is. Also Steve Reich's name didn't hang god-like in the sky in some giant blocky font. This is more cheesy video game screen grab than "documentary" photo.

even a cold unaltered photo of the stark truth of the event would be better than a doctored photograph that plays on cinematic drama and media sensationalism. i don't think the image itself should be sacred, but i don't think it should be candy-coated and filtered to ease consumption either reich is a new yorker, it was on TV for everyone else but new york city. either use the image or evoke it, watering it down like this smacks of the stunts that record labels have used for years to stir sales with controversy.

I don't know? It seems like people are looking for reasons to be outraged here. This comes down to a Photoshop filter for some? Really!? I've looked at the original stock photo and although I haven't seen a high resolution version, even at the small preview size, it looks grainy and not the highest quality photograph. Perhaps the Photoshop filter was deemed necessary to hide the imperfections in the original photo? I don't claim to know one way or another, but it is ridiculous to assert that this is no longer a "documentary" photo of the event because it has a different tint on it now. The work isn't a literal "documentary" of what specifically happened either. I mean the phrases "They came from Boston" or "They're goin' the wrong way" or "No contact" aren't actually repeated over and over and over again like they are in the piece. I don't think that cheapens the event it is trying to portray. Perhaps, Reich shouldn't have composed anything and just let the speech recordings play through and called it a finished work for his "documentary" concept to be completely appropriate for the critics here.

A fascinating discussion...I would point anyone interested to some actual musicological work on Steve Reich's _Different Trains_ that puts the documentary reading of the piece into question: Amy Wlodarski's "The Testimonial Aesthetic of Steve Reich's Different Trains" (http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/jams.2010.63.1.99). Wlodarski did some research that tends to support Kurt Mortenson's reaction to the WTC piece: Although many critics rushed to applaud the "documentary" aspect of Reich's Holocaust piece, because it used the actual voices of survivors, unedited, to present the terrible events, she went back to the original oral histories from which Reich took the accounts in DT. It turns out that he did quite a bit of editing, and his edits had the effect of changing the meaning and implication of what the survivors "said," in several cases reshaping their stories so they fit well-worn tropes of Holocaust narrative. This is not to attack Reich or the piece, just to note that, like every artist, he is inevitably in the business of "telling us" something. I would not expect the WTC 9-11 piece to be any more of a "documentary" than the piece it was modeled on. (Just to be nerdy and professionally jealous, Christian Carey, quoted the press release above, is not actually a "musicologist" -- his point of view is undoubtedly valuable, but it the pov of a composer. Wlodarski is a musicologist.)

As for the cover art, I am surprised that no one has made the point yet that it is a piece of "classical music" that has broken the taboo on using iconic 9-11 images as cover art. It feels like Reich sees himself as "entitled" to use this image not just because his family was near Ground Zero on the day, but because he is a composer of modernist art music, and thus immune from any accusation of sensationalism or exploitativeness. I have not heard (or seen) the piece yet, but I am worried about this aspect. As someone inside the tribe, I am a little apprehensive about how "Jewish" this is going to be. Even the pairing of this work with Different Trains is a political statement; if they are played together in concert, as one assumes they would be, how could we resist the notion that the two calamities are being equated, and that the attack on 9-11 was a form of "anti-semitism"? That feels like someone telling me how to feel.

I think it is fair to say that the very nature of "documentaries" requires its author to choose what to present and what not to. Therefore whether by omission or emphasis, it recounts events through a certain POV, no matter how impartial the intent. For example, most other composers would likely not choose to include "documentary" sources singing from Psalms and the Torah. It's not particularly important for the telling of the 9/11 story, but the composer has an affinity for his heritage, so he included it. That being said, it's fairly obvious when there is a clear agenda bias and just simply some minor personal preferences, in this case, Reich's focus on being Jewish.

I was not immediately able to see Amy Wlodarski's research so I can't comment on it in any definitive way. That being said, I'm having a hard time understanding how the "story" could be manipulated because there isn't so much of a narrative. It's more evoking a feeling. Whatever she alleges, it must be in the second movement and the juxtaposition of two phrases that suggest they are connected but may not be in reality. I'm not sure that skews anything because I don't think it matters since there is no story, but I could be wrong. I'll have to seek that out. It has piqued my curiosity so I appreciate Robert bringing it up.

One thing I really like about Reich's work is that when he does tackle political subjects, it does not come off as agenda driven or preachy to me. His work seems to pose questions and not provide answers. This is unusual in my opinion. Most composers who venture into such dangerous territory often can't resist the temptation to spew their agenda to the point that it cheapens the work. Putting aside the fact that I think John Adams has been in a creative rut for a long time, he suffers greatly from this and I just don't care about his music anymore as a result. As someone who has heard Steve Reich's "WTC 9/11," I can assure Robert Fink that there is no equating of "anti-Semitism" and the 9-11 attacks. I've certainly never seen anything in his work that suggests some kind of victim mentality. I think Reich strikes a nice balance between doing Jewish-themed works and just making great art. It would probably get tedious if everything always came back to being Jewish, though I love his music so much that I don't care one way or the other. In any case, I think such subject matter is a part of who he is, but it's not all that he is. For me, Reich celebrates being Jewish, but does not put forth what might be interpreted as a "Jewish" agenda, whatever that might mean for lack of a better way of saying it.

I'll be interested to hear Reich speak about this "controversy." I can imagine seeing a YouTube interview or being at a pre-concert lecture where he expresses genuine shock and surprise at the strong reaction. I can just envision the tone of his voice and the expression on his face so it will be interesting to see if I'm right.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. George Santayana

While I actually think it's a great cover, because it's so direct and unapologetic about its subject matter, I could also see why some people might think it's tasteless or capitalization on a tragedy. But let's remember something: album art is there to get attention and sell records. We're all talking and arguing about it. Mission accomplished = good album art.

I find the image haunting and evocative. I see a dark beauty in it. It does conjure up much emotion, which is entirely appropriate for the "product". It brings back feelings which have been stifled for many years; many people are obviously having trouble handling those emotions and attacking the use of this image as a result.

How many of the people who are so insulted by this cover have read Steve Reich's statement above, or is everyone's personal reaction to a work of art more important than what the artist/s is/are trying to say? I hope all involved with this will have the courage of their convictions and not cave in to the censorious outcry.

I can see why people wouldn't want to see the image on the cover but i feel like Steve Reich chose that picture for a reason. Every person has their opinion though, so to each their own.

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