“For a long time, the composer Julia Wolfe often walked past the site of the old Triangle Shirtwaist Factory … where 146 workers were killed in a 1911 fire,” writes Talya Zax in Tuesday’s (12/18) Forward. “Until 9/11, this was the most fatal workplace tragedy in American history…. ‘Fire in my mouth,’ a work for choir and orchestra about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire … will premiere with the New York Philharmonic on January 24…. The story … has four parts. First: ‘Immigration.’ … Then the factory…. After that, ‘Protest,’ set during the 1909 New York shirtwaist strike…. ‘Fire’ [was] the hardest movement for Wolfe to write: 146 singers giving voice to 146 victims…. Wolfe turned to stories that brought out each personal tragedy…. Wolfe’s eyes reddened as she spoke of women jumping to their deaths to escape the fire. Her studio is in her apartment [with] the site at which the Twin Towers fell visible from the window…. ‘I didn’t see people jump, but I actually was standing there that day.’… At first, Wolfe didn’t know about the Triangle fire victims who had jumped. Once she learned about them, she said, ‘it did resonate.’ ”

Posted December 19, 2018

Julia Wolfe photo by Peter Serling