STEVE REICH AT 80: SEASON HIGHLIGHTS; Worldwide Celebrations Include First Performances of Two New Works—Pulse and Runner

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Worldwide Celebrations Include First Performances of Two New Works—Pulse and Runner


Steve Reich’s 80th is celebrated with over 400 performances in more than 20 countries during the 2016–2017 season. With the birthday itself falling on October 3, this fall brings major series focuses in New York, London and Paris as well as first performances of his latest works. One of the leading composers of the past half century, Reich lays genuine claim to directing musical history onto an alternative path, opening composition to influences beyond the central classical canon.


Reich combined his early experiments on tape loops and phasing patterns with his researches into African drumming and Balinese gamelan to create a radical new style, simple in materials yet complex in its intricate rhythmic patterning. The scope of his works grew through the 1970s to create era-defining scores such as Drumming and Music for Eighteen Musicians. In succeeding decades, he turned to recorded speech and documentary media to create Different Trains and his video operas in collaboration with Beryl Korot, including Three Tales.


All these works are surveyed in the retrospectives mounted by Carnegie Hall in New York, the Barbican in London and the Philharmonie in Paris. The world premiere of Pulse for winds, strings, piano and electric bass provides the centerpiece of the all-Reich concert at Carnegie Hall on November 1 with the united forces of ICE, So Percussion and Synergy Vocals conducted by David Robertson. The evening also includes a performance of Three Tales, his documentary video opera created with video artist Beryl Korot. Reich has also been named the Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair for Carnegie Hall’s 2016–2017 season, and has curated a series of concerts taking place throughout the season.


Reich describes Pulse as “a calmer more contemplative piece” than his recent Quartet, employing a fixed pulse and steady harmonies with varied accentuation coming from hand alternation patterns on the piano. After New York, the piece travels to London as part of the Barbican’s Steve Reich at 80 series on November 5, followed by an Ensemble Modern tour to Paris and Cologne, with further performances in Amsterdam’s ZaterdagMatinee series and in a Los Angeles Philharmonic Green Umbrella concert in January.


Runner is unveiled within a new ballet choreographed by Wayne McGregor at The Royal Ballet in London on November 10. Scored for a large ensemble of winds, percussion, piano and strings, the new work opens and closes athletically, with its five movements each employing different note durations in a distinctive Reich arch-form. European concert performances follow from Ensemble Modern with the US premiere by Ensemble Signal on the Cal Performances series in Berkeley on January 29.


(Click here for additional information about Pulse and Runner.)


Additional anniversary celebrations hosted by Symphony Space, Miller Theatre, and San Francisco Symphony, who presents a week of concerts that culminates in a special birthday tribute on September 11 called “Steve Reich: An American Maverick.” With Reich in attendance, guest artists eighth blackbird and the Kronos Quartet join Michael Tilson Thomas and members of the SF Symphony on a concert featuring Different Trains and Double Sextet.


On September 29, a unique open-air performance of Different Trains is staged at Edge Hill Station in Liverpool with members of the London Contemporary Orchestra and Sound Intermedia. The performance is paired with a newly commissioned film by American filmmaker and artist Bill Morrison, featuring archival film stock of train travel during WWII gathered from archives in continental Europe and the US.


For full information on Reich performances this year, visit


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Reich at 80: celebratory premieres of Pulse and Runner

(April 2016)

Two new Steve Reich ensemble works are announced for premiere in November, within celebrations in New York and London for his 80th birthday.

Celebrations for Steve Reich‘s 80th birthday year bring first performances of his latest two works in New York and London. Pulse receives its world premiere at Carnegie Hall on 1 November and travels to the Barbican in London on 5 November, both performances within series devoted to the composer. Runner is unveiled within a programme at The Royal Ballet in London choreographed by Wayne McGregor with first night on 10 November. Both works have further performances planned by ensembles and venues in the USA and Europe.

Pulse, scored for winds, strings, piano and electric bass, provides the centrepiece of Carnegie Hall’s all-Reich 80th birthday concert on 1 November, alongside performances of Quartet and Three Tales, his video opera with Beryl Korot. The premiere in New York features the combined forces of ICE, So Percussion and Synergy Vocals, conducted by David Robertson, and forms part of the series of concerts with Reich serving as the Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair for Carnegie Hall’s 2016-17 season.

Commissioners of Pulse are Carnegie Hall, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Barbican, KölnMusik – Kölner Philharmonie and Philharmonie de Paris. Following the New York performance the work travels to London on 5 November for its UK premiere given by Britten Sinfonia conducted by Clark Rundell within the Barbican’s Steve Reich at 80 series. Performances by Ensemble Modern follow in Paris, Cologne and in the ZaterdagMatinee series in Amsterdam, and by the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Steve Reich describes how “Pulse was completed in 2015 and was, in part, a reaction to my Quartet of 2013 in which I changed keys more frequently than in any previous work. In Pulse I felt the need to  stay put harmonically and spin out smoother wind and string  melodic lines in canon over a constant pulse in the electric bass and or piano. From time to time this constant pulse is accented differently through changing hand alternation patterns on the piano. All in all, a calmer more contemplative piece.

“As is well known, composing is primarily a solitary activity. However, after completing Pulse, I sought out suggestions for improving the piece from Maggie Heskin, my editor at Boosey and Hawkes. She offered several ideas which helped motivate me to find my solution of hand alternation patterns mentioned above. I want to thank Maggie for her thoughtful and generous help.”

Steve Reich’s ensemble work Runner is premiered at The Royal Ballet in London on 10 November in a new ballet within a mixed programme celebrating Wayne McGregor’s 10th anniversary as Resident Choreographer. Concert performances of the new work will follow in coming seasons presented by co-commissioners Signal, Ensemble Modern, Cal Performances and Washington Performing Arts/Ensemble.

The new Reich ballet, as yet untitled, is the latest in a series of Wayne McGregor danceworks set to music by the composer, including PreSentient for Rambert choreographed to Triple Quartet, Three Tales for Stuttgart Ballet and the highly successful Dyad 1929 created for Australian Ballet in 2009 and choreographed to Reich’s Double Sextet. Reich remains one of the most popular composers for dance, attracting leading choreographers across the decades including Alvin Ailey, Richard Alston, Lucinda Childs, Laura Dean, Mats Ek, Eliot Feld, Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Jiri Kylián, Lar Lubovitch, Hans van Manen and Heinz Spoerli.

Steve Reich writes about the new work: “Runner, for a large ensemble of winds, percussion, pianos and strings, was completed in 2016 and is about 16 minutes in duration. While the tempo remains more or less constant, there are five movements, played without pause, that are based on different note durations. First even sixteenths, then irregularly accented eighths, then a very slowed down version of the standard bell pattern from Ghana, fourth a return to the irregularly accented eighths and finally a return to the sixteenths but now played as pulses by the winds for as long as a breath will comfortably sustain them. The title was suggested by the rapid opening and my awareness that, like a runner, I would have to pace the piece to reach a successful conclusion.”

> Visit the Steve Reich at 80 web page

> Carnegie Hall
> Barbican
> Royal Ballet

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