WTC 9/11

“It was like the twisted steel of Berlin, Cologne and Tokyo come to rest four blocks from where we live.” Composer Steve Reich uses those words to evoke the bright and yet terribly dark September day a decade ago. In Reich’s WTC 9/11, we hear not just his own compositional voice, but also—through the use of documentary recordings—what he calls the “speech melody” of those who bore witness to Sept. 11. They range from NORAD air-traffic controllers and New York firefighters recorded that day to friends and neighbors recalling events years later. Reich weaves the pitches and rhythms of those voices into a work of terrible sorrow and haunting power.

Steve Reich has been called “our greatest living composer” by The New York Times, and “America’s greatest living composer” by The Village Voice. He is a leading pioneer of Minimalism. His music is known for steady pulse, repetition, and a fascination with canons; it combines rigorous structures with propulsive rhythms and seductive instrumental color. It also embraces harmonies of non-Western and American vernacular music (especially jazz).

WTC 9/11 is in three movement: 9/11/01; 2010 and WTC. Two excerpts performed by the Kronos Quartet are presented here. WTC 9/11 premiered at Duke Performances on March 19, 2011.