PRESS RELEASE: Soundstreams and Massey Hall announce ‘Steve Reich at 80’ artists

Soundstreams and Massey Hall today announced the artists from across North America who will take the stage with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steve Reich on April 14, 2016 at Massey Hall. Steve Reich at 80 is a celebration of the “father of minimalism’s” 80th-birthday, where he will be joined by artists from Canada and the US to undertake three signature compositions representing significant signposts in his prolific career.

VIDEO: a message from Steve Reich on coming to Toronto for this concert

This concert brings together the three original members of the Steve Reich Ensemble: Steve Reich, Russell Hartenberger, and Bob Becker. Formed in 1966 to perform Reich’s compositions, the ensemble quickly grew to 18 members or more and has toured nationally and internationally. Steve Reich at 80 will kick off with a rare onstage appearance by Reich, performing his playful Clapping Music (1972) with Toronto-based percussionist Hartenberger.

Female voice is central to Tehillim (the Hebrew word for “psalms”), the 1981 piece that marked a break from the elliptic quality of Reich’s earlier work through its melodic extrapolations of four Psalms. The first piece to reflect his Jewish heritage, he has remarked that “Tehillim may be heard as traditional and new at the same time.” Canadian sopranos Lesley Bouza, Michelle DeBoer and Carla Huhtanen, and GRAMMY-nominated alto Laura Pudwell are highlighted in this four part orchestral setting of Psalms 19:2-5, 34:13-15, 18:26-27, and 150:4-6. This piece will be conducted by Leslie Dala.

The evening will conclude with the mammoth 14-part Music for 18 Musicians (1976), Reich’s first large ensemble piece. Hailed as “one of the handful of late-twentieth century works that can rightly claim to have altered the course of Western music” (The New York Times), this trance-inducing masterwork of maximal minimalism consolidated and expanded upon his prior experiments with looping, phasing, and African rhythms. Featured artists include JUNO-nominated violinist and producer Jesse Zubot (Tanya Tagaq’s Animism, Dan Mangan), “musical revolutionary” (The Vancouver Sun) clarinetist Lori Freedman, acclaimed jazz pianist Tania Gill, and contemporary pianist Gregory Oh (Toca Loca, The Lollipop People).

No Steve Reich concert would be complete without a formidable percussion section. In addition to Russell Hartenberger and Bob Becker, Steve Reich at 80 will feature the talents of Garry Kvistad (NEXUS Percussion), Haruka Fujii (Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble), Ryan Scott (Continuum Contemporary Music), and Michelle Colton (Oregano Percussion). Fittingly, Hartenberger, Becker, and Kvistad are three of the 18 musicians to win a GRAMMY Award for the landmark 1998 Nonesuch recording of Music for 18 Musicians.

“We are thrilled to bring Steve Reich back to Toronto for the third time in a decade,” says Lawrence Cherney, Soundstreams Artistic Director. “Arguably the world’s most influential living composer, we cannot wait to hear the extraordinary ensembles we have brought together for this event, many of whom he has worked with personally over his career. And for the first time ever, his two masterworks Music for 18 Musicians and Tehillim will be performed in one concert, a monumental pairing!”

“I had the great pleasure of working with Steve on a retrospective of his music in 1999 during my time at the Lincoln Center Festival,” says Chris Lorway, Director of Programming and Marketing for The Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall. “It’s an honour to have him at Massey Hall to celebrate this milestone with some of our favourite musicians.”

This event has been financially assisted by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, a program of the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, administered by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund Corporation.

Read the full release here.