No, this isn’t a hurricane/earthquake story. This weekend, the Washington Post did a roundup of arts-related stories about the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I wrote one article about classical music’s ceremonial role at times of mourning, and one touching on just a few of the many, many works of music that have been written to commemorate the event. (John Corigliano, Stephen Paulus, Steve Reich, Robert Moran are just a few of the composers who have created works this year.)
I feel that classical music has a particular social role at times of mourning: it’s the one time it has a clear function in our society. (Not that art needs to have a clear function in society, but classical music often seems to occupy an unsteady niche in the larger world these days.) Many groups also often turn to commissions of new works as commemorations: audiences may be more willing to accept new work if it has a non-musical tie-in.
What do you think about classical music and commemoration?
David Harrington, of the Kronos Quartet, discusses Steve Reich’s commemorative “WTC 9/11.”