Tag Archives: Steve Reich

Yale Percussion Group coming to Zankel Hall on Dec. 12

Members of the Yale Percussion Group rehearsing Thierry de Mey's Musique des Tables. (Photo by Bob Handelman)

We at Will You Miss Me When  I’m Gone? have a soft spot for percussion music and the ensembles that play it well.

So it should be no surprise that we’re excited about the Yale Percussion Group’s visit to New York on Sunday, Dec. 12. This exciting group of performers — Michael Compitello, John Corkill, Ian Rosenbaum, Yun-Chiu Candy Chiu, Leonardo Gorosito  and Adam Rosenblatt, directed by founder Robert van Sice — will be bringing four major percussion classics to the stage of Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall.

Included is Mauricio  Kagel’s rarely performed Dressur to the Balinese-flavored mysticism in James Wood’s Village Burial With Fire.  Add to that Thierry de Mey’s Musique des Tables, played on amplified table, which is as much fun to watch as it is to hear and top it off with Steve Reich’s Sextet, and you’ve got a great evening of percussion music performed by top-notch players.

If you need proof, check out performance videos of YPG at work by clicking here.

Ticket contest

Boosey & Hawkes, Steve Reich’s publisher, is running a contest for free tickets. You have until 2 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 10, to enter. Click here to enter.  If you don’t win, read on for ticket-buying information.

musand Yale Percussion Group performs at 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12. Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall,  Seventh Avenue at 57th Street, Manhattan. Tickets, which are $15-25, are available at the box office or by clicking here.

Acclaimed for its virtuosity and electrifying stage presence, the Yale Percussion Group and its director, Robert Van Sice, perform four challenging and theatrical works that explore the limitless potential of percussion instruments, written by four singular contemporary composers: Mauricio Kagel, Steve Reich, Thierry de Mey, and James Wo
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New Music’s next wave

ICR DDS GVSUNME

Remixer Dennis DeSantis, in the shadows, left, with the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble at (Le) Poison Rouge. (Photos copyright 2009, Steven P. Marsh)

I saw and heard the future of New Music on Sunday night, and I am happy to report the future is bright.

ICR Sax Solo

A saxophone solo opens the performance of "In C."

The Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble, which burst onto the scene with its fabulous 2007 performance (and followup recording) of Steve Reich‘s “Music for 18 Musicians”, filled (Le) Poisson Rouge last Sunday night with the sounds of another 20th Century classic — Terry Riley‘s “In C.”

ICR Jad

Radio Lab host Jad Abumrad was master of ceremonies.

Riley’s piece is more of a challenge than Reich’s because it is less structured, more mutable and highly shaped by the musical personality of the performers. The 15 talented players in GVSUNME — most of them students — played an engaging version that they made their own with the use of electronics and flourishes like a saxophone solo  to open the performance.

Sunday’s concert was a celebration of the release of In C Remixed, GVSUNME’s double-CD recording of In C and 18 remixes by 16 artists. The ensemble’s recording of “In C” clocks in at just over 20 minutes. For Sunday’s concert, the group played for about an hour. That’s the other major variable of the piece — it’s written in such a way that it can be as long or short, within certain limits, as the players want it to be.

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In C Remixed web site launches

Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble at (Le) Poisson Rouge in NYC.

Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble at (Le) Poisson Rouge in NYC.

The Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble — the group that made the splendid recording of Steve Reich‘s Music for 18 Musicians in 2007 — is at it again. This time the group has commissioned a bunch of artists to record, remix and reinvent Terry Riley‘s seminal work, In C.

You can get a taste of what they’re up to by checking out the project’s web site, which  was launched today.

In this project, a slew of invited artists took  GVSUNME’s recording of In C and remixed it to create their own version. The only rule was to produce a 4- to 8-minute track. Contributors include: Jad Abumrad, Masonic (Mason Bates), Jack Dangers, Dennis DeSantis, R. Luke DuBois, Mikael Karlsson/Rob Stephenson, Zoë Keating, Phil Kline, Kleerup, Glenn Kotche, David Lang, Michael Lowenstern, DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid, Nico Muhly, Todd Reynolds, and Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR).

Their versions  are being assembled into a album, In C Remixed, due out digitally on Oct. 27 and on CD on Nov. 17. It’s available for preorder here. The ensemble is also performing the reinventions live, and will bring the show to NYC’s (Le) Poisson Rouge on Sunday evening, Nov. 8. $15.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Signal’s co-founders on their new Steve Reich commission

Composer Steve Reich, center, with Signal's co-founders Brad Lubman and Lauren Radnofsky. (Photo courtesy of Todd Reynolds)

Composer Steve Reich, center, with Signal's co-founders Brad Lubman and Lauren Radnofsky. (Photo courtesy of Todd Reynolds)

Signal has existed for little over a year. But in that time, the flexible New Music ensemble has developed a reputation as one of the finest interpreters of the canon. The group skillfully tackles the music of many of today’s greatest composers, but it’s closely identified with the work of Steve Reich — partly because composer-conductor Brad Lubman, one of Signal’s two co-founders, has long been associated with Steve and the Steve Reich Ensemble.

Signal had the honor of being the first ensemble other than eighth blackbird to play Steve’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Double Sextet. It was an honor because eighth blackbird commissioned the piece and has control over who else can perform it. Signal did such a fine job with the piece, clearly illustrating its strong connections with Steve’s work — that I started wondering how long it would take before Signal would get its own piece from Steve.

I asked Signal’s other co-founder, cellist Lauren Radnofsky, that question, and was thrilled to learn that we were on the same page: a commission was in the works. Because the commission involved a Meet the Composer grant and a co-commissioner, the news had to stay under wraps until everything was nailed down. With today’s announcement of MTC’s grants, it’s no longer a secret.

Signal performing at (Le) Poisson Rouge.

Signal performing at (Le) Poisson Rouge.

Lauren and Brad filled in Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? about the exciting news in an email interview last night:

Q: How did Signal’s Steve Reich commission come about?

A: It was an idea we thought of early on, after Signal formed.  We love his music, so it seemed that he’d be the first and most obvious person to ask, especially given everyone’s association with him and his music — especially Brad, who has worked with Steve and premiered a number of his pieces over the last 14 years.

Q: What are the parameters of the piece? Is there a subject, context, or idea that you guys suggested, or is he totally on his own?

A: He’s totally on his own.

Q: Is there a title?

A: Not yet.

Q:  What’s the process? Is it collaborative or will Steve write and you guys will play it?

A: He writes, we play!

Q: Is he writing for a specific configuration of the group?

A: The exact instrumentation is not yet determined, but the piece will be for approximately 20 players.

Q: You describe it as a co-commission.

A: The other co-commissioner is MITO/Settembre Musica in Italy.

Q: How excited are you guys about this?

A: YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  We couldn’t be more excited!!!!!!!!!

Q:  When will it be premiered?

A: The premiere will be during the 2011-12 concert season.

Q: What are your plans for the work?

A: We’re working to plan tours in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. We would record the piece at a later date.

Hey, Strange Freaks — Stew and Heidi are really Making It

Stew at the Belasco Theatre's stage door after the final performance of "Passing Strange" last summer. (Copyright 2008, Steven P. Marsh)

Stew at the Belasco Theatre's stage door on July 20, 2008, after the final performance of "Passing Strange" last summer. (Photos copyright 2008, Steven P. Marsh)

If you’re a true Strange Freak — a fan of Stew, Heidi Rodewald and their extended theater family from the musical Passing Strange — you already know that Stew and Heidi aren’t resting on the laurels they received for that show. They have a new project in the works slated for a short run next February at St. Ann’s Warehouse, the arts center in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn.

Heidi Rodewald greets fans outside the Belasco Theatre.

Heidi Rodewald greets fans outside the Belasco Theatre.

But early this morning Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? exclusively revealed that the prestigious arts-funding organization Meet the Composer‘s grant program for 2009 includes an award to Stew and St. Ann’s for the show, called Making It. This is not their next play, which has commitments from The Public Theater in Manhattan. It’s a multi-media rock-show presentation (something that should seem familiar to anyone who’s seen Passing Strange) featuring a collage of song, text, and video tracing “the unlikely careers of Stew and Heidi from the dive rock clubs of Hollywood to the footlights of Broadway — with Stew as your helpful guide to Making It,” according to the St. Ann’s web site.

Meet the Composer today announced a slate of $450,000 in grants to 61 composers, performers and arts presenters. The the majority of the grant-winners are from the classical side of the contemporary music world. So it’s truly gratifying to see Stew, a remarkable talent from the pop world, recognized alongside composers like Steve Reich, John Harbison, David Lang and Julia Wolfe.

Tickets are available to St. Ann’s members now, and go on sale to the general public on Sept. 2. Click here to join St. Ann’s online and get immediate access to tickets for all of the upcoming shows there.

Congratulations to Stew and St. Ann’s!

EXCLUSIVE: Reich, Signal, Stew, ETHEL, Muhly, DuBois and more win Meet the Composer grants

Signal performing at (Le) Poisson Rouge.

Signal performing at (Le) Poisson Rouge.

It’s an exciting morning for new music. Meet the Composer, the leading new music commissioning organization, is announcing the winners of  $450,000 in grants to composers and performers for 2009, and Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? has the list first.

The list includes many of WYMMWIG? favorites like composers Steve Reich, David Lang, Julia Wolfe, Nico Muhly and R. Luke DuBois and performers like Signal, Talujon Percussion Quartet, ETHEL string quartet, Alarm Will Sound and So Percussion.

Awards also went to some pop and jazz projects, including Stew, the co-creator of the Broadway musical Passing Strange, and the Village Vanguard jazz club.

MTC doubled the pool of money this year as part of what it’s calling a “new music stimulus program,” awarding $300,000 to 31 composers through its Commissioning Music/USA program and a total of $150,000 to 30 NYC-based new music ensembles and presenters through Cary New Music Performance Fund.

MTC President Ed Harsh says: “At this critical moment for artists around the country, we wanted to be aggressive in multiplying the effect of Meet The Composer’s continuing programs. We are dedicated to keeping creative musicians on the job doing what they do best, which is to make music.”

The increased funding and extended deadlines this year flooded MTC with three times the usual number of applicants for composer awards.

Panelists for the first round of the composer awards were Christian Amigo, Elizabeth Brown, Conrad Cummings, Jenny Lin, Eleonor Sandresky, Steven Swartz, Theodore Wiprud, and Du Yun.  The panelists for the final round were Edmund Campion, Jeremy Geffen, Joan La Barbara, Oliver Lake, and Matt Haimovitz.

The committee that picked the performer winners was composed off Darcy James Argue, Allen Blustine, Margaret Leng Tan, and Randy Woolf.

See the full list of grantees after the jump. Continue reading

Steve Reich at MASS MoCA

Composers David Lang and Steve Reich at MASS MoCA on Saturday, July 25. (Copyright 2009, Steven P. Marsh)

Composers David Lang and Steve Reich discuss the life and work of artist Sol Lewitt, whose wall drawings are the subject of a retrospective at MASS MoCA. (Copyright 2009, Steven P. Marsh)

Every summer for eight years running, a New England museum of contemporary art becomes a museum of contemporary sound for a couple of weeks when Bang on a Can moves in.

This year’s festival started July 14 when NYC-based Bang on a Can’s founders Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe and David Lang, plus staff, and a crew of teachers joined  35 young musicians and composers at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in North Adams, Mass.

While there, the students, called fellows, spend their days working with faculty members — some of the best players, conductors and composers on the contemporary music scene today — and preparing music for two gallery recitals a day over the course of the 2 1/2 week program. It’s a musical boot camp, where the boundaries between work and play are happily blurred as participants flow from gallery recitals to concerts to informal jam sessions at working-class town taverns.

Every year, the festival also eatures a major figure from the contemporary music scene as special guest, an artist who typically interacts with the fellows and often plays with them onstage.

Performing Music for Pieces of Wood while the composer looks on.

Performing Music for Pieces of Wood in a gallery adjacent to the Sol Lewitt exhbit while the composer looks on.

This year’s festival is a little different. Steve Reich, a master of minimalism, who, like Meredith Monk, Don Byron, and Terry Riley, has been in a guest artists at previous Bang on a Can summer festivals, is more  featured artist. He made an appearance on Saturday, July 25, to reminisce about his friendship with the late Sol Lewitt, whose wall drawings are the subject of a massive retrospective show at the museum.

Sol Lewitt turned to bright colors in his later wall drawings, like these on the third floor of the MASS MoCA exhibit.

Sol Lewitt turned to bright colors in his later wall drawings, like these on the third floor of the MASS MoCA exhibit.

Reich was also feted with performances of his music in the gallery and the courtyard of the museum and in a more formal way with an evening concert including one of his best-known works, Music for 18 Musicians, and one of his toughest, Eight Lines.

Reich and wife Beryl Korot listen to David Cossin play drums.

Reich and wife Beryl Korot listen to a percussion performance in the MASS MoCA courtyard.

It was a splendid day, with lost of spirited playing. Reich looked quite pleased with the results, and I was thrilled to see the black box theater packed for the evening performance.

Bang on a Can’s rendition of Music for 18 Musicians (which actually involved 19 musicians in this particular presentation) was played well and with emotionally satisfying results. Eight Lines, written for eight players, but performed herre in a version for 16, came together well. It was a testament to the professionalism and dedication of the players that they were able to pull together a credible performance of the difficult piece in less than two weeks.

If you haven’t checked out MASS MoCA yet, I urge you to do it. The museum is spectacular and the art changes dramatically from year to year. And Bang on a Can’s festival, dubbed Banglewood as a play on the much more conventional Tanglewood Music Festival nearby, will open your eyes and ears.

The crowning achievement of each summer’s festival is the marathon. This year’s six-hour marathon runs from 4-10 p.m. this Saturday, Aug. 1, in the Hunter Center at MASS MoCA. It will feature a host of works, including George Antheil’s Ballet Mechanique and Shaker Loops, one of John Adams‘ early works. Tickets are available by clicking here. $24.

Signal rocks Reich

Composer Steve Reich and conductor Brad Lubman take their bows. (Copyright 2009, Steven P. Marsh)

Composer Steve Reich and conductor Brad Lubman take their bows. (Copyright 2009, Steven P. Marsh)

Signal, one of the nation’s premiere New Music ensembles, celebrated composer Steve Reich‘s 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Music on Monday night with a special performance of Double Sextet, the composition for which he won.

Signal managed to sell out (Le) Poisson Rouge on Bleecker Street in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village so quickly that a late show was added, and that one appeared to be nearly sold out by the time it started.

The show opened with a rendition of Reich’s Sextet, an older piece. The crowd at the late show seemed to appreciate the performance by just six of Signal’s talented members, but most were really there to hear Double Sextet, which before Monday had performed only once in NYC, at Carnegie Hall by eighth blackbird, the Chicago-based ensemble that commissioned the work.Steve Signal performing

While the premiere performances featured six musicians playing against a tape of themselves playing the second sextet parts, Signal chose to play both sextets live, with 12 musicians onstage — two sextets consisting of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, vibraphone and piano. (Steve intended the piece to be played either way.)

I enjoyed eighth blackbird’s NYC premiere of the piece last year, but Signal’s rendition brought out nuances and beauty in the piece that I missed the first time. Steve plays with dynamics and tempos in the piece, and even seems to dip into a bit of phasing, a technique that he frequently employed earlier in his career in which identical lines fall out of sync with one another, creating a kind of counterpoint.

Six of Signal's musicians performed Sextet, the 1985 predecessor to Reich's Pulitzer-winning composition.

Six of Signal's musicians performed Sextet, the 1985 predecessor to Reich's Pulitzer-winning composition.

It was a revelatory performance by an amazingly skillful ensemble, led by conductor Brad Lubman. Steve clearly gave his imprimatur to the performances, attending both shows and taking an emotional bow at the conclusion of it.

Signal to perform Steve Reich’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Double Sextet

Signal at (Le) Poisson Rouge.

Signal performing Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians at NYC's (Le) Poisson Rouge.

The fast-rising Signal Ensemble will celebrate composer Steve Reich‘s Pulitzer Prize win next month with a performance of Double Sextet, the work for which he won the prestigious award. The event should be especially rewarding because Reich himself will be in attendance!

Signal, founded by conductor Brad Lubman and cellist Lauren Radnofsky, is a tight-sounding all-star band, featuring a large roster of some of the finest players around, including all the members of So Percussion along with personnel from Alarm Will Sound, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Gutbucket. Since forming last spring, Signal has quickly become a leading interpreter of contemporary composed music by the likes of Reich, Philip Glass, Luciano Berio and others.

Signal will perform Double Sextet at 6:30 p.m. on June 22. At (Le) Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street (between Thompson and Sullivan), Manhattan. Tickets $25 in advance.

And don’t forget to catch Signal performing Glass’ Symphony No. 3 at 7 p.m. this Sunday (May 17), also at LPR. Tickets $20.

In C turns 45 — and the party’s tonight!

Terry Riley

Terry Riley

In C changed musical history. Composer Terry Riley so influenced The Who’s Pete Townsend so deeply that he titled his highly experimental rock classic Baba O’Riley came from a mashup of the names of Riley and Indian mystic Meher Baba.

Riley’s heavily-improvised work had a profound impact not just on Townsend, but on a generation of musicians including John Adams, Morton Subotnick, Philip Glass and Steve Reich.

At 8 tonight, Riley celebrates the work’s 45th anniversary at Carnegie Hall in a performance the brings together the original performers and a host of guests — including Kronos Quartet, rocker Dan Zanes, and One Ring Zero co-conspirator Michael Hearst. Some tickets are still available. Click here for more information.

Riley, who is 73 years old, remains quite active performing and composing. But tonight’s show will be a rare opportunity to hear In C performed by the musicians who were there at the beginning along with many whose lives were changed by the piece.