My publisher OUP asked me to compose a piece in response to 9-11. I was flattened by this calculated, commodified request. In fact, it spelled the end of our relationship. Instead I waited to work with great artists Susanne Mentzer, James Dunham and Craig Rutenberg and we created the best work I have ever composed - "Sifting Through the Ruins". We premiered the work at Aspen. This is OUR response to 9-11.
Listen to Sifting Through the Ruins here: sounds files
See the score here.
Sifting Through the Ruins is a set of five songs composed in memory of the human lives changed forever by the bombing of the WorldTradeCenter in September 2001. Susanne Mentzer, James Dunham, Craig Rutenberg, and I give these songs to you with a wish to honor the profound love of life, so gentle, but at present ferociously and blindingly evident in every second of our lives.
Susanne privately collected a number of texts which she discovered on her personal journey towards understanding the events of September 11th. We chose the words we present today as a way of bringing out essential emotions. The truths are stark. The words are startling simple, innocent, direct, and bereft of contrivance. In short, they are authentic. They are the only logical response of human beings to the utter shock of sudden death. That there are words at all astounds me. These are the hardest words with which I have ever partnered as a composer. But we four artists trust that our work together can in some small way articulate their weight by letting the words speak for themselves, born up by the music we make.
Libby Larsen is one of America’s most performed living composers. She has created a catalogue of over 400 works spanning virtually every genre from intimate vocal and chamber music to massive orchestral works and over fifteen operas. Grammy Award winning and widely recorded, including over fifty CD’s of her work, she is constantly sought after for commissions and premieres by major artists, ensembles, and orchestras around the world, and has established a permanent place for her works in the concert repertory.
As a vigorous, articulate advocate for the music and musicians of our time, in 1973 Larsen co-founded the Minnesota Composers Forum, now the American Composer’s Forum, which has become an invaluable aid for composers in a transitional time for American arts. A former holder of the Papamarkou Chair at John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress, Larsen has also held residencies with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Charlotte Symphony and the Colorado Symphony.