Steve Reich Turns 70 - And 'Steve Reich @70' Begins

Classic Arts News   Steve Reich Turns 70 - And 'Steve Reich @70' Begins
He's one of America's most critically acclaimed, most influential and most popular living composers — and for one composer to achieve all three in this day and age is quite something.

Steve Reich celebrates his 70th birthday today — and New York City celebrates along with him, as "Steve Reich @70" gets underway this evening. The festival is a month-long multi-disciplinary event featuring live music, dance, video and masterclasses; it also marks the first full-scale collaboration between three of New York's cultural powerhouses — Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

The festivities begin tonight at BAM with two acclaimed modern dance companies performing to Reich scores played live. "Rosas/Khan — Dance to Music by Steve Reich" features the renowned Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker and her company, Rosas, performing Fase, four movements to the music of Steve Reich, a series of solos and duets set to the scores Violin Phase, Piano Phase, Clapping Music and Come Out. The second half features the Akram Khan Company in Variations for Vibes, Pianos and Strings, a newly commissioned work receiving its US premiere.

"Rosas/Khan — Dance to Music by Steve Reich" receives four performances (tonight and October 5, 6 and 7) at 7:30 pm at BAM's Howard Gilman Opera House. For more information, visit

Next, "Steve Reich @70" moves to Carnegie Hall, where the composer will lead a select group of young musicians and conservatory students in "Reich on Reich," one of the Weill Music Institute's Professional Training Workshops. The weeklong seminar will conclude with a performance of Music for Pieces of Wood, the Sextet, City Life and the Triple Quartet in Carnegie's Zankel Hall on Thursday, October 19.

On the following Saturday, October 21, the Kronos Quartet, Steve Reich and Musicans and the jazz guitarist Pat Metheny will appear in Carnegie's Isaac Stern Auditorium — each ensemble performing a score originally composed for it by Reich. Metheny will play Electric Counterpoint, while the Kronos will play Reich's Holocaust-themed Different Trains; Reich's own ensemble will perform his seminal Music for 18 Musicians.

The following day (Sunday, October 22) will bring an innovative program to each of Carnegie's smaller stages. Weill Recital Hall will host a "Discovery Day" on Reich's music, with lectures and discussions examining Reich's various influences (Balinese gamelan, medieval organum, African drumming, etc.), a panel featuring the composer and Carnegie artistic advisor Ara Guzelimian, and New York Philharmonic percussionist Daniel Druckman leading the audience in Reich's Clapping Music.

That evening at 7:30 pm in Zankel Hall, Guzelimian and the composer will host "Making Music: Steve Reich." The concert-cum-discussion will feature Cello Counterpoint (played by Maya Beiser), Piano/Video Phase, Reich's legendary work Drumming and Synergy Vocals in the US premiere of Daniel Variations, the composer's new score in honor of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

Lincoln Center provides the grand finale to the celebrations, honoring Reich as part of its "Voices and Visionaries" festival. In Alice Tully Hall on October 28, conductor Grant Gershon and the Los Angeles Master Chorale perform the New York premiere of Reich's You Are (Variations), along with Clapping Music and Tehillim. And on November 2 and 4 in the Gerald Lynch Theater at John Jay College, the Steve Reich Ensemble revives The Cave, the 1993 video opera exploring the Biblical stories of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael and Isaac (with texts taken from the Torah and the Koran) on which Reich collaborated with his wife, video artist Beryl Korot. (The cave of the title is the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the West Bank town of Hebron.)

The Whitney Museum of American Art — where a number of Reich's works received their premieres back in the days when the contemporary music establishment reviled his brand of minimalism — is offering related celebrations this month as well. From October 4-15, the museum is presenting a video installation of the 2002 Reich/Korot collaboration Three Tales, and on Sunday, October 15, several ensembles — Alarm Will Sound, So Percussion, the Prism Sax Quartet, TACTUS and flutist Ransom Wilson — will give a four-hour concert including, among other works, Proverb, New York Counterpoint, Four Organs, Eight Lines and Vermont Counterpoint.

More information on 'Steve Reich @70," including Reich performances in many other cities in the US and abroad, can be found at

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