I originally wrote when I am alone as an installation for the Pulitzer Foundation in Saint Louis. The museum had just been reopened after renovations and I wrote music for 100 mumbling singers, who would mingle among the crowd at the opening, singing very very softly, as the art lovers looked at the art and admired the new building. Looking at art is a personal experience, a time for reflection, when the viewer is in some way alone with his or her own thoughts, even in the middle of a crowd. So I made a text about things people might think about when they are alone.
Last year, the artist Suzanne Bocanegra asked me to make an installation for one of her pieces, so I recorded Caroline Shaw singing all the parts and I worked with Jody Elff to assemble them into a whole. The irony, of course, is that what I thought being alone meant last year is very different from what being alone means now.
— David Lang, August 2020, NYC