Here's the link to hear my 9-11 Memorial Music commissioned by David Matthews for Dr. James Bass and the USF Chamber Singers.
My first concern when writing music in memoriam for 9/11 was the profiteering that went on by composers after the tragedy. It seemed like everyone was putting out 9/11 pieces. I knew that to do the project, I would need to find a text that was universal enough to apply to all tragic situations. With my love for all things Medieval, I went on a hunt a found the 9th century liturgical drama "Ordo Rachelis" which I believe was written by Notker the Stutterer. I've set the first two sections of the play. I did not use any of the original chant. Below is the translation by Hoppin, but I've included my own copyright free translation in the score.
I. (This movement is Rachel's words)
Alas! tender youths, what mangled limbs we see!
Alas! sweet children, murdered by madness alone!
Alas! whom neither piety nor your age restrained!
Alas! wretched mothers, who are forced to see this!
Alas! what now shall we do?
Why do we not submit to these deeds?
Alas! because joys cannot lighten our sorrows,
we are mindful of the sweet pledges of love who are no more.
II. (The consolers respond)
Do not, pure Rachel, do not sweetest mother, hold back the tears of your grief for the murder of the little ones.
But if you are sad about these things, rejoice at what you weep for; assuredly your children live blessed above the stars.
I designed the movements so that they could be performed as a set or as separate pieces. The first movement is in what I might call a Neo-Franco-Flemish style. I think it's very beautiful. Maybe it's the kind of music Josquin would have written if he had been through the wringer of modernism. The second movement is more dramatic and is accompanied by a challenging but playable piano part. I think it is equally beautiful. Though the styles are slightly different, I did use a cyclic harmonic progression to unify them.
Labels: 9-11 memorial, james bass, kurt knecht, usf chamber singers