Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Steve Reich at Ohio State

I'm interviewing composer Steve Reich from the stage of Weigel Hall Auditorium this Thursday, February 23rd at 12:30, as part of the College of the Arts Winter Convocation. Come one and all!

Over twenty-five eyars ago I was having lunch with the late Robert Jacobson, editor of Opera News. The minimalist school of music and its composers were then echt-cool. It was becoming easier to fill a hall for Tehillim than for Puccini. Bob, God bless him, railed over his cobb salad. I sat and nodded and seemed to agree because I was afraid not to. But I was envious of those full houses at BAM, Cooper Union and Avery Fisher Hall. As time went on I was convinced that organizing sounds in a different way-different sounds-would not make the world unsafe for La boheme.

My first live performance of miniamlist (like all labels a partial misnomer) music was Steve Reich's Tehillim. I scored a ticket from a buddy of mine who was among the singers. This telling of the hebrew pslams is scored for singers, vibes, electronic sounds and hand clapping. You get the idea. I loved it then ans I love it now.

John Adams Grand Pianola Music was on the same program. The last two minutes of this work featured a tune-a real melody. The audience was incensed:the booing was as long as the performance.

Phillip Glass is probably the most commercial of the Reich-Adams-Glass triumverate. His work has embraced many different media-his delivery can have broader appeael. He and Adams have worked a lot in the theater in recent years. Twenty years after Bob Jacobson died, the august Met got on the bus with Dr. Atomic and Nixon in China, the latter approaching Puccini status in number of performances.

Steve Reich to me is the true experimenter. He seems afraid of nothing. He continues regardless of public approbation or disapproval. I was interested in meeting him that far from being stuffy he wore his now older downtown persona with charm

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