John Adams, who has written operas about Richard Nixon in China and the terrorist killing of Leon Klinghoffer, is composing a choral piece commemorating the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks o

John Adams, who has written operas about Richard Nixon in China and the terrorist killing of Leon Klinghoffer, is composing a choral piece commemorating the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. The New York Philharmonic commissioned Adams' "On the Transmigration of Souls," which includes texts drawn from cell phone calls and other firsthand accounts.

"Transmigration" will have its world premiere on Sept. 19, the philharmonic's first subscription concert of the 2002-2003 season. The 20-25 minute composition will be conducted by the philharmonic's new music director, Lorin Maazel, in a concert also featuring Beethoven's "Symphony No. 9."

"I fully understand the intensity of emotions that the anniversary of Sept. 11 will bring up, and I will do my best to create a piece that honors those emotions without exploiting them," Adams said in a statement. "Clearly whatever this piece may be, it needs to be in the spirit of those very words of [poet Friedrich] Schiller that will be heard later in the evening [in the Beethoven Ninth Symphony] -- that we are all united by a common bond of humanity."

The New England-born Adams composed the opera "Nixon in China" in the mid-1980s, about Nixon's historic trip to Mao Tse-tung's China.

His opera "The Death of Klinghoffer" debuted in 1991, six years after the disabled American tourist was shot by Palestinian terrorists on a hijacked cruise ship and hurled overboard. Last November, the Boston Symphony Orchestra had planned to perform choruses from the opera, which included arias pondering the plight of the terrorists. The BSO scrapped the idea, saying the date was too soon after the Sept. 11 attacks.


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