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Sound And Silence: 'Remembering Sept. 11' At The Temple Of Dendur

At the conclusion of the astonishing "Remembering September 11" concert, held by the Wordless Music Orchestra at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Temple of Dendur on the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, the audience responded with utter eloquence: two minutes of astonished silence, followed by wild applause.

The concert, presented as a live webcast by NPR Music and Q2, can now be heard as an archive stream — and it is an unmissable event.

Led by the dynamic conductor Ryan McAdams, New York's Wordless Music Orchestra performed four works centered on the idea of loss and remembrance. The program featured the world premiere of Maxim Moston's orchestration of an arresting work by William Basinski, The Disintegration Loops.

The concert also included three pieces for string quartet: Ingram Marshall's Fog Tropes II, Osvaldo Golijov's Tenebrae and Alfred Schnittke's Collected Songs Where Every Verse Is Filled With Grief, passionately and movingly performed by violinists Keats Dieffenbach and Caroline Shaw, violist Nadia Sirota and cellist Clarice Jensen.

The concert was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Temple of Dendur, a Egyptian sandstone edifice from about 15 B.C. Now surrounded by a reflecting pool — evoking the waters of the Nile and housed within a glass atrium that overlooks Central Park — the temple is a space which lends itself beautifully to musical contemplation.

All the works on this program are haunting reflections on loss, grief and remembrance, interweaving past and present in hypnotic and moving arcs. For example, Golijov — with the violence of historical and contemporary Jerusalem in mind — loops melismatic quotations from Baroque composer François Couperin's somber Troisieme Leçon de Ténèbres.

Basinski's The Disintegration Loops had its genesis in the physical process of decay. In the midst of archiving and digitizing analog tapes from the early 1980s, the composer realized that his material was literally disintegrating, leaving eerily silent passages in the midst of lush, pastoral music — "my paradise lost," he says. He was finishing work on The Disintegration Loops as the destruction of Sept. 11 unfolded; he watched from his Brooklyn roof, just over the river from downtown Manhattan.

The "Remembering September 11" concert webcast was hosted by NPR Music's Anastasia Tsioulcas and WQXR/Q2's Helga Davis. You can hear the entire webcast at the link above.

Copyright 2024 Q2. To see more, visit Q2.

Hear (And Download) The Music

Osvaldo Golijov: Tenebrae for string quartet


From 'Golijov: Tenebrae'

By Wordless Music Quartet

Ingram Marshall: Fog Tropes II

"Fog Tropes II"

From 'Marshall: Fog Tropes II'

By Worless Music Quartet

Alfred Schnittke: Collected Songs Where Every Verse is Filled with Grief

"Collected Songs Where Every Verse is Filled with Grief"

From 'Schnittke: Collected Songs Where Every Verse is Filled with Grief'

By Wordless Music Quartet

William Basinski (orch. Moston): The Disintegration Loops, dlp 1.1

"The Disintegration Loops, dlp 1.1"

From 'Basinski: The Disintegration Loops, dlp 1.1'

By Wordless Music Orchestra

Anastasia Tsioulcas
Anastasia Tsioulcas is a correspondent on NPR's Culture desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including the trial and conviction of former R&B superstar R. Kelly; backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; and gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards.