Composed by David Lang, the day was commissioned in 2016 by cellist Maya Beiser as a “prequel” to world to come (2003), which Lang also wrote for Beiser in response to the tragic events of 9/11. Both pieces are meditations on life, but from very different perspectives.
“'the day' looks at ways we review our lives,” Lang explains, “exploring remembered moments as a chronicle of a life.” Lang sourced the text from the internet by searching for the phrase “I remember the day that I...,” and then cut and compiled lyrics based on his findings. The spoken word accompaniment by actor Kate Valk lends an emotional charge to Beiser’s poignant cello lines, which gradually build in multi-tracked layers to emulate a small string ensemble.
In 'world to come', Beiser echoes the cello with her own voice, with the separation between the two growing more pronounced as the piece progresses. It’s a metaphor for the separation of the soul from the body at the moment of death, and their struggle to reunite in a peaceful, post-apocalyptic spiritual world.