Reflection Of John Adams 'On The Transmigration Of Souls'

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Upon listening to the few minutes of John Adams’ piece, On the Transmigration of Souls, my memory was immediately brought back to the emotions I felt while standing at the reflection pools at Ground Zero. Not until reading the playbill from the New York Philharmonic’s production of Adams’ piece did I realize that the piece was in fact created as a meditative “memory space” for those who suffered a loss from the attacks on September 11, 2001 and any other loss humans experience. John Adams’ piece creates a “memory space” those suffering a loss from the horrific events of 9/11 but also for those enduring losses from all aspects of life. Through the noise from the city streets, repetition of the word “missing” and “remember”, reading of victim’s names and text from missing-persons posters, listeners enter into a time …show more content…

This time allows us to think of who is missing in our lives, be it a spouse, grandparent, child, sibling, friend or enemy. We can think about a literal state of being missing or a figurative state wherein someone is emotionally or socially out of our lives. Further, what does their state of missing mean to the listener? Does the listener need to go search for the missing person, pray for their physical or mental being or even write a letter to rekindle a lost relationship? Does a person’s state of missing mean that they will be missing forever or rather a short-term period? Lastly, what are the emotions brought about from the person’s state of missing? Is it emptiness, hopelessness, desperation, longing, anger, etc. that fills a person knowing that someone is “missing”? The seven seconds of silence Adams creates between repetitions allows listeners to grapple with these questions and find meaning behind the word

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