Sunday, September 18, 2011

WTC 9/11

I received my SIGNED copy of Steve Reich's new CD with his new piece WTC 9/11, commissioned by the Kronos Quartet (and many other people). Being one of the few pieces I have heard in commemoration of that event from a composer that actually lives (and has lived for 25 years) in lower Manhattan, I was expecting a very poignant portrait of the event in a more personal way from what I have heard from other composers. Overall I believe Mr. Reich delivered. The first two movements where in typical Reich/Kronos collaborative fashion of voice manipulation coupled with strings mimicking said voices. And although subject-wise very poignant, especially with the voice tapes he decided to use, musically it was very similar to say, Different Trains. However, the third movement is quite beautiful. Although it follows the same guidelines as the first two movements as far as the voice mimicking goes, it is quite different. In this movement the strings are mimicking some beautiful singing of psalms and from the Torah. The third movement is about the shimira that was enacted for the bodies of unidentified victims (a 24/7 vigil for 7 months). This was the poignancy that I was looking for, not just in this piece, but in most of the 9/11 oriented compositions that I have heard.

Also on this disc is Reich's Mallet Quartet for two vibraphones and two marimbas. A spectacular piece from back in 2009.

Lastly on the CD is his Dance Patterns (2001). A lively piece that is fun to listen to.

If you are a Reich fan, as I am, definitely give this a look.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Vocal Music

I have had a long time feeling that my best work has always been that which is directed by text (sometimes that is vocal music sometimes it is not). Now one would think that this would direct me to write more music for voice. This has actually not been the case. The act of taking text and setting it scares the living daylights out of me every time I attempt to do it.

A great text will sing itself... but I almost feel like an impostor, or at least a defiler, every time I try and do something vocal (or text driven).

And yet, I am drawn to vocal music more than anything else.

Sometime soon I will get up the gumption to visit my poetry books and proceed to pounce all over someone else's words.