Tag Archives: John Adams

Transmigration

Transmigration – definition
To move from one place, state or stage to another

“Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror. The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet, unyielding anger.  George W. Bush

Here it is 9/11 already  and has been for the past 19 hours – (7pm as I start to write this post).  So we have heard much of the tragedy from 10 years ago.

This afternoon with a friend, I went to hear the Wellington Vector Orchestra in concert.  The recital was entitled ‘The Transmigration of Souls” and this work took up the whole of the second half of the performance.

You may know this work commissioned by the New York Philharmonic and written by John Adams to commemorate those who lost their lives in the tragedy.but this was its introduction to those of us who live in New Zealand.  It is different and strangely moving.  The child’s voice reciting ‘missing’ following the recital of names of the dead is very poignant.  Added to this are the voices of the St Paul’s Cathedral Choristers and the Orpheus Choir.

“The Choristers numbers up to 30 boys and girls aged between 8 and 15.  The Choristers lead the Sunday Choral Eucharist or Choral Evensong once a month. Each young person learns to work as part of a team and to take responsibility for his or her own performance. Choristers are treated as young professionals and the Cathedral treble programme represents one of the finest musical educations available to young people in New Zealand.”

The Orpheus Choir is New Zealand’s premier symphonic choir of around 100 voices. The Choir performs regularly at major Wellington music venues with both international and national highly regarded musicians and soloists.

The orchestra is conducted by American born, Marc Taddei. who now makes his home here in Wellington. Taddei calls the work “the first masterpiece of the new millennium”.  And adds“It’s one of the most profound works ever written. The work won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2003 and in 2005 the premiere recording won three Grammy Awards for Best Classical Album, Best Orchestral Performance, and Best Classical Contemporary Composition.”

Adams, the composer calls the massive work for large orchestra, choir, children’s choir and pre-recorded sounds, a “Memory space”.

“It’s a place where you can go and be alone with your thoughts and emotions. The link to a particular historical event – in this case to 9/11 – is there if you want to contemplate it. But I hope the piece will summon human experience that goes beyond this event.

“Transmigration means ‘the movement from one place to another’ or ‘the transition from one state of being to another.’ But in this case I meant it to imply the movement of the soul from one state to another. And I don’t just mean the transition from living to dead, but also the change that takes place within the souls of those that stay behind, of those who suffer pain and loss and then themselves come away from that experience.”

As a member of the audience I could feel the rage, the hurt, the surprise and the unimaginable all depicted through the music.  I was left breathless.  There were some comments that it wasn’t music but I think on the whole the audience was wowed by the work.

I am so glad that I spent a couple of hours on a September afternoon listening to the orchestra.