Fire in my Mouth employs the considerable resources not only of the NYP, but also 110 voices from the Young People’s Chorus of New York City and 36 members of The Crossing to represent the 146 victims. Immigration sets the words of Mollie Wexler who recalls her voyage to America. The second movement, Factory pits a mournful Yiddish tune against a boisterous Italian tarantella amidst the mechanical hubbub of the factory floor. Protest begins with the women aspiring to be American but morphs into a demonstration against poor working conditions, the singers filling the aisles.
Finally, Fire evokes the horror of the fatal blaze after which we hear the damning words activist Rose Schneiderman spoke in the aftermath. The recitation of all 146 names provides a sombre conclusion. Van Zweden and his forces bring amazing energy and ardour to the postmodernist score, investing it with a sincerity that cannot be ignored.”