Harmonic Resonance

Steve Reich and Kronos Quartet present world premiere


Tragic inspiration: Reich used 9/11 as an artistic starting point.
Tragic inspiration: Reich used 9/11 as an artistic starting point.
Alice Arnold

As part of Duke Performances’ “Inventors” series that spotlights innovative American artists, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steve Reich and Grammy Award-winning group the Kronos Quartet debuted their latest collaboration, WTC 9/11, at Page Auditorium in March. Commissioned by Duke Performances and written specifically for Kronos, it is the third collaboration between Reich and the group

Using the events of September 11, 2001, as an artistic premise, WTC 9/11 integrates live and taped quartet performances, prerecorded voices (air traffic controllers, firefighters, people at Ground Zero), and electronic sound samples. Reich, who is Jewish, used snippets of prayers and psalms being recited by people practicing Shmira, a tradition whereby the living keep watch over the dead, guarding the body and soul until burial. Another sample featured a cellist and a cantor from a New York synagogue singing parts of Psalms and the Torah.

In addition to WTC 9/11, the concert included the artists’ previous collaborations, Triple Quartet and Different Trains, as well as selections from The Cave, Reich’s 1993 opera. Reich and the Kronos Quartet were artists-in-residence in the days leading up to the performance, engaging in informal conversations with the Duke and Durham communities about their work.

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