Steve Reich Comments on the “WTC 9/11” Album Cover

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Composer Steve Reich comments on his forthcoming Nonesuch Records release, featuring his piece WTC 9/11, performed by Kronos Quartet, and the album cover.

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Composer Steve Reich comments on his forthcoming Nonesuch Records release, featuring his piece WTC 9/11, performed by Kronos Quartet, and the album cover:

As a composer I want people to listen to my music without something distracting them. The present cover of WTC 9/11 will, for many, act as a distraction from listening and so, with the gracious agreement of Nonesuch, the cover is being changed.

When the cover was being designed, I believed, as did all the staff at Nonesuch and the art director, that a piece of music with documentary material from an event would best be matched with a documentary photograph of that event. I felt that the photo suggested by our art director was very powerful, and Nonesuch backed me up. All of us felt that anyone seeing the cover would feel the same way.

When the cover was released on the Nonesuch site and elsewhere, there was, instead, an outpouring of controversy mostly by people who had never heard the music.

When WTC 9/11 was performed by the Kronos Quartet, first in Durham, North Carolina, at Duke University and then shortly afterwards outside of Los Angeles and then at Carnegie Hall and again at the Barbican Centre in London, the reaction of the public and press was extremely thoughtful and moving. To have this reaction to the music usurped by the album cover seemed completely wrong. Accordingly, the cover is being changed.

I want to thank Nonesuch for backing up my original decision about the cover and for backing up my decision now to change it so we can put the focus back where it belongs, on the music.

—Steve Reich

[Editor's note, 8/12/11: Read Washington Post classical music critic Anne Midgette's thoughtful article on the matter at washingtonpost.com.]

  • Thursday, August 11, 2011
    Steve Reich Comments on the “WTC 9/11” Album Cover

    Composer Steve Reich comments on his forthcoming Nonesuch Records release, featuring his piece WTC 9/11, performed by Kronos Quartet, and the album cover:

    As a composer I want people to listen to my music without something distracting them. The present cover of WTC 9/11 will, for many, act as a distraction from listening and so, with the gracious agreement of Nonesuch, the cover is being changed.

    When the cover was being designed, I believed, as did all the staff at Nonesuch and the art director, that a piece of music with documentary material from an event would best be matched with a documentary photograph of that event. I felt that the photo suggested by our art director was very powerful, and Nonesuch backed me up. All of us felt that anyone seeing the cover would feel the same way.

    When the cover was released on the Nonesuch site and elsewhere, there was, instead, an outpouring of controversy mostly by people who had never heard the music.

    When WTC 9/11 was performed by the Kronos Quartet, first in Durham, North Carolina, at Duke University and then shortly afterwards outside of Los Angeles and then at Carnegie Hall and again at the Barbican Centre in London, the reaction of the public and press was extremely thoughtful and moving. To have this reaction to the music usurped by the album cover seemed completely wrong. Accordingly, the cover is being changed.

    I want to thank Nonesuch for backing up my original decision about the cover and for backing up my decision now to change it so we can put the focus back where it belongs, on the music.

    —Steve Reich

    [Editor's note, 8/12/11: Read Washington Post classical music critic Anne Midgette's thoughtful article on the matter at washingtonpost.com.]

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