David Lang, ‘again (after ecclesiastes)’ featured on NPR

June 14, 2022

David Lang, ‘again (after ecclesiastes)’

June 14, 2022 10:35 AM ET
Tom Huizenga

David Lang‘s again (after ecclesiastes) opens with sections of the Cappella Amsterdam choir, from high to low, interlacing on the phrase “People come and people go / The earth goes on and on.” The words are from Ecclesiastes, a curious book of The Old Testament that reads more like a philosophical argument than a rousing validation of belief. The book questions the meaning of our existence.

Lang’s descending melodic theme repeats in a steady beat, providing an ebb and flow like waves slowly lapping against a shoreline, a reminder that nature’s cycles never cease. There’s something comforting in the constancy of this solemn and translucent music. It’s part of Lang’s larger cycle, the writings, choral pieces based on five Old Testament books that are integrated within the Jewish liturgical year. How do we fit into this ever-turning wheel of life? Near the end, the choir intones: “What happened before will happen again.”