Reviews: Reflections on 9/11


Jed Distler of “According to the composer’s booklet notes, each section addresses different aspects of the September 11 tragedy, from the destruction of the Twin Towers to physical and psychological aftermath and spiritual rebirth. However, the main question is whether or not the music stands and communicates on its own without programmatic aid. Happily it does, and the seven sections held my attention over their nearly one hour total playing time.” (Read More)

Stephen Eddins of “Pianist Karen Walwyn’s Reflections on 9/11 is an hour-long suite in seven movements that expresses the composer’s reactions to the horrific events of that day. It is a fluent and deeply felt composition that requires a formidable virtuosity to perform, but the writing is never showy just for its own sake. Walwyn uses advanced compositional techniques, but her musical language is accessible and directly communicative, so her work should appeal to broad audiences.” (Read More)

Robert Schulslaper of Fanfare Magazine: “Reflections is a large-scale work in seven movements and Walwyn has the concentration, intensity and technique to focus attention on its every phrase and transformation. A large dynamic range, excellent pacing, attention to detail, and fleet-fingered dexterity serve her vision with grace and nobility…Walwyn has written music that will surely resonate with listeners’ own reflections on 9/11. In my case, at least, it’s left a lasting impression.”

Sullivan of American Record Guide: “As a New Yorker, I’ve grown very tired of the endless parade of 9/11 memorial pieces; many amount to little more than pretentious exploitation… Reflections on 9/11… is at least a serous, sober attempt to come to terms with the tragedy. It is a well-crafted piano epic… a seven-movement tone poem full of dark textures and a compelling somber atmosphere.”

Charles H. Pettaway, Jr. of Lincoln University: “Karen Walwyn’s composition is intensive and highly emotional; I observed the rapt attention of the students present at the performance. Those who have the privilege hearing this work cannot help but be moved by this composition. The work provides a template for personal emotional response and remembrance.”

George I. Shirley of The University of Michigan: “The work is a moving and powerful evocation of scenes and emotions branded forever upon the psyche of all who witnessed from near or far the horrific events of that fateful day. Karen’s deft pianism vividly created a sonic landscape that captured and reflected images both visual and aural in a manner memorable for all the right reasons.”

David Goza on The University of Oklahoma: “It is no exaggeration to say that listening to Reflections on 9/11 – an experience that I have treated myself to many times over the past few months – reminds me of why it is that I fell in love with music in the first place, so many years ago: its capacity to give voice to those dimensions of the human experience (to say nothing of the soul of the composer) that so often elude our more usual language. Jean Sibelius once said, ‘For me, music begins where words cease.’ Karen Walwyn’s monumental Reflections on 9/11 exemplifies that sentiment exactly.”

Harry Burney on Bethune-Cookman University: “Reflections on 9/11 was, particularly, moving since I was in NYC on 9/11/2001. I was, literally, transported back to ‘that day’ and infused with memories I have tried not to visit… Most vivid in my recall on Sunday was the IV Movement ‘Unanswered Questions’-mainly, because I still have many… The subtly of the inclusion of ‘This Little Light of Mine’ was a real motivation in unlocking my recall of ‘that day’. It was there-dark, murky, deep-resonatìng against the meter of the dissonance in the treble part of the piano. The entire Work is a tour-de-force and will certainly find its way into the annals of 21St Century African-American compositions.”

Adeline Bethany, Ed. D. on Cabrini College: “My students were required to attend one of the professional concerts offered by the college. Most of them opted for your concert. To say that they were impressed by your performance… would be an understatement. They were deeply moved by the experience and felt that the music realistically dealt With the events and aftermath of that tragic day.”

Willis Patterson, Ph.D. of The University of Michigan: “Reflections is really quite a mature Work for piano, given its seven movements, and it serious requirements of color, power, and in-depth interpretation.”

William Koren Music Critic: “Walwyn takes us on a journey…through an experience…to setting us upon a new mountain top!”

Billy Childs on “I have found the composition and performance of Reflections on 9/11 to be completely inspired and inspiring. I have the same feeling, listening to this piece, as I had when I first heard Gaspard De La Nuit by Ravel or Petrouchka for piano by Stravinsky. I think that Reflections is an important work that makes a powerful, truthful, uncompromising, and unsentimental statement about a dark period in our history as Americans. I can literally see the buildings falling down into the earth – the dust settling – the silent screams of people.” (Read More)

Contact Ms. Walwyn to purchase the score.