On September 11, 2011 the United States marks a decade since the deadliest terrorist attack on our soil, one that has left an indelible mark on the nation’s psyche as a whole. A number of musical tributes, from modest concerts to widely publicized record releases, will be taking place. One of the most unique and interesting is the marathon concert being curated/organized by composers Eleonor Sandresky and Daniel Felsenfeld at Joyce Soho, 155 Mercer Street in Manhattan. Music After, as the event is called, will begin at 8:46 a.m. on Sunday, September 11, 2011 and extend till just after midnight and will feature music by composers who were living in downtown Manhattan on September 11, 2001, a veritable “who’s-who” of the international new music scene including Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson, Joan LaBarbara, Phil Niblock, Michael Gordon, Phil Kline, Nico Muhly, Judd Greenstein, Morton Subotnick and Rosanne Cash, among many others.
Music After is as much a commemoration of community as it is a memorial for those lost on that morning ten years ago. “So many people I spoke with (after 9/11),” says Sandresky, “talked about how important it had been for them to join in their community and help out. It was definitely something that I had wanted to do as well but couldn’t. Living as I did then with the “pile”–as it was known–literally just around the corner, it was too overwhelming for me, but there were many that did volunteer.
“On the first anniversary [of 9/11],” adds Felsenfeld, “when so many large-scale memorials and commemorations were laid out, I remember thinking that the best way to actually acknowledge the event musically had less to do with ‘requiems’ and ‘threnodies’ and more to do with people. I was a few blocks from the World Trade Center that morning, I saw (and smelled and felt) everything. And I was certainly not alone. So I imagined a LONG concert where every composer or songwriter we could locate who either lived there or happened to be there would be represented with a short and modest work. Then the event becomes not about the fallen or the horror of the day, but about the sheer scope of composers–different kinds of composers, many of whom define what we think of in terms of various musical “scenes”–who were in the thick of the morning.” “This event,” says Sandresky, “is about bringing our community together to stand and sing and play together on this day. And we are coming together as a community and reaching out to our greater community with music.”
Felsenfeld adds that “it is the scope of the concert that makes its point: that so many were affected so directly. Even a four-hour concert would require us to leave out people, and we didn’t want to have to do that. Besides–and I will speak for myself here but suspect I’m not the only one who feels this way–every year September 11 is a difficult day to get through, and we liked the idea that there was a place where, from 8.46am, the moment the first plane hit, until the earliest moments of September 12, there would be somewhere for people in our own community to go. Even if they don’t come,–even if none of them come–it is just a good thing to have as an option.”
In this spirit of community, Music After is a completely grass-roots organized, produced and funded event. There are no corporate or institutional sponsors. Sandresky and Felsenfeld are, therefore, relying on the new music community to rally together to make this event happen, providing yet another avenue for participation for those of us who may not have been directly affected by the events of September 11, 2001 (because we did not live in New York or Washington) but who still bear the scars of this national tragedy. To that end, there are a number of ways to contribute: you can give to Music After’s IndieGoGo campaign or if you have a PayPal account and would like to contribute using that service, you can visit the event’s web site and click on the “give” tab; for large donations, please contact Eleonor Sandresky and/or Daniel Felsenfeld directly via firstname.lastname@example.org for further information on how to make your contribution. “As far as giving goes,” says Felsenfeld, “both Eleonor and myself are strictly volunteers–nothing is going directly to us–and the Joyce SoHo has generously donated their space for the day. All the money we need is going to pay for the people who are going to make the event happen that day: the performers, the crew, the tech, as well as the rental of the equipment. Almost everyone is working at a reduced rate, but with eighteen hours of music, over 50 composers, and somewhere around 75 performers as well as a full staff, you can see that we’ll need your help.”