Robert Moran has already written his place into the rich tapestry of contemporary music which has flourished in the United States in the second half of the twentieth century. Whilst Glass, Reich and Riley trod the various paths towards “minimalism”, Moran was composing and organizing "performance art" spectaculars such as Thirty Nine Minutes for Thirty Nine Autos -- a deceptive title for a piece which used 100,000 performers and most of downtown San Francisco-premiered in august 1969, or Hallelujah (April 1971) using most of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and twenty marching bands, forty church choirs, gospel groups, etc. Whilst these great multi-media events may have been a product of their time, in Moran’s case they point to an underlying philosophy which sees music as a shared experience. In terms of this shared experience with his performers, he wrote a series of graphic scores in the 1960s and 1970s which, while controlling the elements of structure, gave the performer a distinctly creative role. As art in themselves, these scores have been exhibited throughout the world, including at Berlin’s Academy of Art, and a two-year period in the Lincoln Centre Library for the Arts (1980-82).
Robert Moran on Trinity Requiem
A 9/11 Requiem for Trinity Wall Street Church
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
The above audio is from the In Paradisum of Robert Moran's Trinity Requiem (Innova, 2011).
When Robert Ridgell (organist at Trinity Wall Street Church in New York) asked me for a new work to be commissioned by Trinity Wall Street and for his wonderful Trinity Youth Chorus, I said "Yes." Then Robert told me that this new work would be part of the 9/11 Anniversary and he would appreciate having a requiem.
As I have no affiliation with any organized religion, I told him that composing a requiem to be performed by children/young people would be somewhat "strange," a new and peculiar kindertotenlieder [songs on the death of chilrdren] and felt that we should approach a new requiem with a different focus. I remember so many past stories of children who had lost their parents, their families and in fact lost everything to wars, famine, vicious governments, and natural catastrophes such a Katrina that this would have some meaning for the young singers (99% of the chorus at Trinity was born in the year 2000). Robert agreed and sent me the various parts of the requiem. We decided that with a limited budget, limited rehearsal and recording time (last November at Trinity) we should use just the chorus accompanied by four celli, organ and harp.
Trinity Requiem is a reflection upon those thousands of children throughout the world with no future and little if any hope. This made total sense to the young members of that fine chorus.
I did not reflect upon past requiems other than the fact that most composers had not included what seems to me to be the most important moment: "In Paradisum." We all hope that this work will be of some comfort to those listeners who have lost beloved friends.