New York Philharmonic, New York Choral Artists
Brooklyn Youth Chorus
Lorin Maazel, conductor
Released: 6 September 2004
Composer John Adams' 2003 Pulitzer Prize-winning On the Transmigration of Souls was first performed on 19th September 2002 at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, New York City, on the opening night of the New York Philharmonic's 2002-03 season. This 25-minute piece for orchestra, chorus, children’s choir and pre-recorded soundtrack was co-commissioned by the Philharmonic and Lincoln Center’s Great Performers in honour of the heroes and in memory of the victims of the attacks of 11th September 2001. It was recorded in concert at Avery Fisher from 19th-24th September 2002, with conductor Lorin Maazel.
For his heartbreakingly direct text, Adamsadapted phrases from the missing-persons posters and memorials posted in the vicinity of the ruins of the World Trade Center and from quotes that appeared in the New York Times’ commemorative series, “Portraits of Grief”. He also taped the commonplace, barely noticed noises of New York City streets to serve as a haunting background to the live performance. Some of the simplest sounds on this disc – like a recording of feet running on pavement – can provoke extraordinary feelings.
In praise of the piece, The Los Angeles Times wrote, “The texture of Transmigration is very complex, what with the electronic cityscape – which also includes voices reading a litany of randomly selected victims’ names – the luminous orchestral colours and the adult and children's choruses singing fragments of the spontaneous messages to loved ones. But the effect is an immediate, enveloping sonic tapestry.”