Roughly six months ago Steve Reich announced a new music project simply called WTC 9/11. The piece uses actual voices recorded (Air traffic, police, etc) as melody points that he then constructs the music around. None are victims of Ground Zero.

It is a beautiful piece and was the only thing I did on the 10th anniversary to honor that day. All of the 24/7 pieces on TV showing the actual events of that day are considered appropriate ways to “remember.” By that I mean all of those horrific images and video. I even saw teasers a month before advertising these shows. Who here thinks that companies responsible for broadcasting them had in mind the premium advertising bucks that could be made that day by “honoring the memory.” I do.

The new Reich piece was previewed on NPR and showed the manipulated image below that was originally intended for the cover.

Listen to short snippets of the piece at Nonesuch records.

Almost immediately there was huge backlash for the choice of the image. Here are some of the “nicer” comments:
I am in total agreement with Mr. xxxxx. I think you may have broken new ground. This is the first truly despicable classical album cover that I have ever seen.

Seems appropriately shoddy and exploitative to me.

You can’t be serious Mr. Reich. Shame on you, the Kronos Quartet and Nonesuch for capitalizing on this. It is truly vile.

Even worse, the label that Reich is on caved into this idiotic chatter and changed the cover before it was released. In my iTunes library I replaced the new one with the original.
For me, Art serves many functions and one is shared catharsis. When I played this CD on 9/11 I was taken to a place of personal reflection and emotion over that day. Personal.
Had I turned the TV on and been spoon fed the actual images of that day I would have been no different than the idiots who slow down on freeways to get a glimpse of an accident.
This CD allowed me to move ahead, to better understand, to buffer the rawness. Television would have only reopened old wounds. That is what Art can do.
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