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David Lang, 'again (after ecclesiastes)'

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."

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Tom Huizenga is a producer for NPR Music. He contributes a wide range of stories about classical music to NPR's news programs and is the classical music reviewer for All Things Considered. He appears regularly on NPR Music podcasts and founded NPR's classical music blog Deceptive Cadence in 2010.