Steve Reich’s “Different Trains” is a perfect example of how music can hauntingly portray concurrent circumstances with frightening accuracy.

Eastman School of Music juniors Michael Jorgensen, Andrew Fouts and Roxanne McGovern, along with senior Adam Carter, will performing this piece on Wednesday, April 10 at 7:30 pm in the UR Interfaith Chapel.

The ESM’s “Music for All” program and UR Hillel are sponsoring this event to commemorate Holocaust Awareness Week.

Honored as “a modern masterpiece,” Different Trains is an engrossing composition that shocks yet enlightens its listeners while exploring the impact of World War II on Americans and Europeans ? specifically Holocaust survivors.

Reich, a composer of Jewish descent, traveled across the United States from New York to Los Angeles on trains to visit his estranged parents as a child during the war. Reflecting upon this in 1988, Reich realized that had he been in Europe during this period, he would instead be riding on trains to concentration camps.

To capture the essence of the time, Reich clipped out samples of tapes he made while interviewing individuals including his governess, a retired Pullman porter and three Holocaust survivors.

He then manipulated these samples so that the pitches of the speaker’s voice could be musically notated. After he wrote the spoken phrases as music, Reich used instruments to imitate the vocal melodies.

The result is a piece in which human voices become instruments that are bolstered and highlighted via string instruments.

Next Wednesday, the quartet will be playing to a recording of the voices.

According to Jorgensen, “Your rhythm while playing must be absolutely perfect. We play along with a CD of people who cannot be moved or changed, so we become much like a machine, the train.”

As he points out “this piece of music [deals] with the aural tradition of passing down information.”

As such, Holocaust survivor Rosemarie Molser will begin the program by speaking about her experiences.

Prior to performing, members of the quartet will discuss “Different Trains” and its genesis.

Schroeder can be reached at

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