What's New 9/11 Preview

Sep 9, 2016

Troy Peters
Credit Edward A. Ornelas /San Antonio Express-News

A new program airs Sunday nights on WBAA Classical: What's New. Host John Clare features new music, new releases, and interesting guests. Hear a special preview of this week's What's New, and let us know what you think.

This week, we feature composers and their music written about September 11th, 2001.

Composer/Conductor Troy Peters shares: My strongest feeling in the wake of 9/11 was numbness. The immediacy and impact of what happened were so powerful that I found myself exhausted for weeks. When Steve Klimowski, who directs the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble, asked me to write a piece for a 9/11 memorial concert, I knew I wanted to be involved. I struggled, however, to begin working.

At the same time, the Vermont Youth Orchestra (where I was the Music Director) was completing a huge building project, renovating a historic U.S. Army Cavalry drill hall to create the Elley-Long Music Center.

Just weeks after the 9/11 attacks, we held our opening ceremony on a Saturday morning, before a full house of community leaders. Among the guests at this event was Senator Patrick Leahy, who spoke eloquently of how the inspiring spectacle of a community investing so much to share music with its youth was the perfect antidote to the anguish we had all been going through as a nation. Senator Leahy's comments energized me, sending me back into conducting and composing with a new commitment and energy. In the end, the world is (and always has been) a dangerous place. All of us, however, can do our best to spread joy and beauty to our families, our communities, our audiences.

And what about the 9/11 piece Steve Klimowski had asked me for? I decide to write about my feelings in the immediate wake of the attacks. In the cello solo which opens Lament — 9/11/01, I tried to capture my sense of being emotionally lost. The cello mulls over its sorrow and doesn’t know where to go with it, turning in circles. When the cello finally exhausts itself, the voice enters with a brief song of mourning to this text by Abu Al-ala Al-ma’arri, an 11th century Arab poet from what is now Syria:

The soul driven from the body

Mourns the memory it leaves behind.

A dove hit in flight sadly turns

Its neck and sees its nest destroyed.

Hear more Sunday night at 10pm on WBAA Classical on 101.3FM and WBAA.org!