1,000 Voices Unite

Photo: NPR

In August, outside Lincoln Center in Manhattan, composer David Lang, ’78, saw his latest work for 1,000 voices performed to great acclaim. A crowd of roughly 2,000 turned out in the muggy heat to hear the assembly of choirs, choruses and other groups from across New York City, who had rehearsed all summer, relying on a chain of command of 25 conductors leading up to choral director Simon Halsey. Lang writes in an email that the piece, titled “the public domain,” focuses on the characteristics of a crowd that bring us together—“the things that we all share with each other, things we all have, that we all do, that we all need, and need from each other.” He crowd-sourced the texts from internet search engine auto-completions beginning with the phrase: “One thing we all have is our . . .” and selected the lines from the results that felt universal, that “we might all agree on.” In a review for the New York Times, Anthony Tommasini called the piece “an intricate, rich musical composition” and also an inspiring event. “This demonstration of commonality could not have come at a better time, given the fractious, divisive national election. It was a great day to be a New Yorker.”