Prom 13

We all have our memories of September 11. I had flown to America the evening before, descending along the Hudson river in the dying light and casting a glance at the twin towers as we came in to land at Newark airport. The next morning in leafy Princeton, the 8am news led with Michael Jordan coming out of retirement (basketball). At 9am, a "small" plane had "bumped" into the World Trade Centre...

If music can comfort the grieving, John Adams was an inspired choice to compose a work in response to the tragedy. In earlier works - The Wound Dresser and The Death of Klinghoffer - he has shown quietness, tenderness, gentleness and simplicity in addressing events that transcend words. On the Transmigration of Souls, commissioned by the New York Philharmonic and Lincoln Centre, was first performed on 19 September 2002. This Proms performance, with Adams conducting, was its European premiere.

The work calls for massive forces: huge orchestra and percussion section with quarter-tone piano (as well as a conventionally tuned instrument), quarter-tone violin ensemble, adult and children's choirs and pre-recorded sounds. Out of a hushed beginning - a collage of traffic, footsteps and siren - a child's voice is heard uttering "missing, missing, missing". Wordless chorus, strings and harps enter, playing empty open fifths that offer a serene but bleak soundscape. Sounds of glockenspiels, crotales, bells and triangles speckle the air; the chorus quietly repeats "remember, remember, remember". A solo trumpet figure "borrowed" from Charles Ives's The Unanswered Question floats by.

Soon the words change to "we will miss you", "we love you", "you will never be forgotten", and the names begin, quietly intoned from all parts of the hall. A halo of luminous string sound cradles the words - "eye colour: hazel", "date of birth". Voices are raised with "I wanted to dig him out. I know just where he is", and an angry outburst erupts instrumentally, horns keening, trombones and tubas growling. The roll-call of names returns. The twinkly, distorted sound of the quarter-tone piano, with harps, celeste and piano, eerily suggests water. The cityscape returns: "I see water and buildings." "I love you" are the final words, as the strings quote the tonal resolution of Ives's work.

Adams has written a dignified and moving work that addresses intimacy while skirting sentimentality. In possession of a score, the strands were easy to follow, but I doubt that the audience could have followed so easily. This is not a simple work to balance (especially in this hall) and it may achieve optimum effect via electronic means. Southend Boys' and Southend Girls' choirs, with the BBC Symphony and Chorus, were impressive.

In the late-night Prom 16, the Bach Choir of Bethlehem (Pennsylvania) made its Proms debut with its own orchestra in works by Bach, Mendelssohn and the American composer Libby Larsen. Larsen's I It Am: The Shewings of Julian of Norwich for soloists, choir and orchestra, premiered here, is a BBC co-commission. Larsen was hailed by USA Today as "the only English-speaking composer since Benjamin Britten who matches great verse with fine music so intelligently and expressively". Not exactly: Tippet, Maxwell Davies and MacMillan might claim that epithet. "Useful", "bland", "conventional" spring more readily to mind. The soloists Tamara Matthews, Daniel Taylor and Daniel Lichti made what they could of very "new age/old age" settings. But under the director Greg Funfgeld, the choir and orchestra showed their exemplary skills in Bach and Mendelssohn.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas Pynchon in 1955, left, and Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix in Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of his novel, Inherent Vice

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Nicole Scherzinger will join the cast of Cats

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Fans were left surprised by the death on Sunday night's season 26 premiere

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lady Mary goes hunting with suitor Lord Gillingham

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Arts and Entertainment
Sergeant pfeffer: Beatles in 1963
booksA song-by-song survey of the Beatles’ lyrics
Arts and Entertainment
music'I didn't even know who I was'
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl was left in a conundrum with too much talent and too few seats during the six-chair challenge stage
tvReview: It was tension central at boot camp as the ex-Girls Aloud singer whittled down the hopefuls
Arts and Entertainment
Kalen Hollomon's Anna Wintour collage

art
Arts and Entertainment

TV Grace Dent on TV
Arts and Entertainment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

    Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

    A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
    Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

    Time to stop running

    At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
    An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

    An app for the amorous

    Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

    Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
    She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

    She's having a laugh

    Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

    Let there be light

    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
    Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

    Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

    Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
    Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

    A look to the future

    It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
    The 10 best bedspreads

    The 10 best bedspreads

    Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
    Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?