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 News Classical 05/04/2019

New Steve Reich Piece Paired With Gerhard Richter Work Premieres At The Shed In NYC

New Steve Reich Piece Paired With Gerhard Richter Work Premieres At The Shed In NYC

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New York, NY (Top40 Charts) Reich Richter Pärt, a live performance-exhibition pairing works by Gerhard Richter with a new composition for large ensemble by Steve Reich and extant work by Arvo Pärt, debuts at The Shed, New York City's newest arts center, this Saturday, April 6, 2019, at 1 PM ET, as part of the new Manhattan venue's Opening Weekend. Ensemble Signal and the International Contemporary Ensemble, in alternation, give live performances of Reich/Richter through June 2, and Brooklyn Youth Chorus (which can be heard on William Brittelle's forthcoming album, Spiritual America) and The Choir of Trinity Wall Street alternate in performances of Richter/Pärt.

The Reich/Richter collaboration examines the intersection between Richter's formula for his "Patterns" series and Reich's rigorous, repeating musical structures in a genre-crossing moving picture work made in collaboration with filmmaker Corinna Belz and featuring the world premiere of a new Reich composition. In his "Patterns" series, Richter repeatedly divides and mirrors a computer image of an abstract painting to further abstract the work, ending in solid bands of color. Richter has based his striped wallpapers for Reich/Richter on the painting Abstraktes Bild (1990)—also exhibited in the installation—to which he has applied his "Patterns" formula. The film reverses the order of the book, starting with solid bands of colors and moving to the abstract painting.

"When the film begins with the two-pixel stripes, the music starts with a two-sixteenth note oscillating pattern," Reich says of his approach to composing music that reflects the visual transformation in the film. "When the film goes to four pixels, the music moves onto a four-sixteenth note pattern, then to eight, and sixteen. After that, I began to think, this is going to get ridiculous, so at that point, I began introducing longer note values—initially eighth notes, and later as the pixel count grew in the film, to quarter notes. By the middle of the film, when the images move from 512 to 1064 pixels and the images becomes larger and more 'creature' like, the music really slows. Later, as the pixel count begins to diminish, the music moves back into more rapid eighths and then sixteenths, ending with the most intense rapid movement."

Reich also explains how Reich/Richter, written for a large ensemble of fourteen players, picks up where his recent works Runner and Music for Ensemble and Orchestra left off. Those pieces "end with an oscillation between two gradually changing notes played by almost all the instruments. I felt that I wanted to begin a piece with that oscillation, and here the film began with two pixels. It was a perfect way to move from the end of my just-completed pieces to the beginning of this project. The structure of the music would be tied to the structure of the film."

Reich/Richter will be performed four times a day, six days a week, between April 6 and June 2, for a total of 200 showings. Next season, Reich/Richter will be performed at The Barbican with the Britten Sinfonia conducted by Colin Currie on October 23, 2019; at the Philharmonie de Paris with Ensemble intercontemporain conducted by Elim Chan on March 7, 2020; and with the LA Phil New Music Group conducted by Brad Lubman on June 6, 2020. Additional performances will be announced in the near future.
Steve Reich spoke with his publisher, Boosey & Hawkes, about the new piece for an interview you can read at

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