Volume 77, Number 1 | June 6 - 12, 2007

A musical reconcilliation of 9/11

By Nicole Davis

Wickham Boyle, editor of our sister magazine Thrive and longtime Tribeca resident, has written once before about September 11 and its aftermath in her memoir, “A Mother’s Essays from Ground Zero.” But for “Calling,” loosely drawn from the material in her book, Boyle decided to give voice to that time via a different medium. “There is nothing that says ‘this is an iconic drama’ like opera,” she says. “And is there any more iconic, dramatic moment in our own modern history than September 11?”

An opera also gives Boyle a chance to create what she calls a “reconciliation” of what has transpired since that day. A reconciliation of … ? “Of all the differences that caused this and the various schisms that seem to have gotten deeper.” The story follows one downtown family and various rescue workers, along with a third group called the Antagonists, who will be represented by music alone. Aurally and thematically, the opera will progress from dissonance to harmony.

The work in progress is a collaborative effort between Boyle, modern experimental composer Doug Geers and video artist Christine Sciulli. For the song, “Hold On,” which will premiere Monday June 11 at the Cornelia Street Café as part of the CCi Composers Collaborative series, Boyle used a few lines from the first essay in her book to create the lyrics. Geers then added the music, which will be performed by two singers and a cellist, along with the electronic music Geers programmed. It is the first in what will ultimately be a series of 16 scenes, based upon the 16 essays in Boyle’s book.

Audiences will get two more sneak peaks of “Calling” this November and next March at the Cornelia St. Café, before it is mounted in September 2008 at La MaMa, where Boyle was once its executive director. Her 20-plus years as a theater producer will serve her well as she and Geers take this to various theaters around the country, building up to a performance on the 10th anniversary of September 11.

The performance is at 8:30 p.m. at Cornelia Street Café, 29 Cornelia St. between W. 4th and Bleecker Sts. (212-989-9319). For tickets and more information, visit www.composerscollab.org.

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