Terry Riley

Minimalist legend

Legendary composer Terry Riley makes his second appearance at MIT for his 80th birthday concert, headlining the 2014-15 season of MIT Sounding.

Terry Riley launched minimalist music with his revolutionary classic In C in 1964—in fact he comes to MIT directly from the World Minimal Music Festival, to be held in his honor at Amsterdam Muziekgebouw in early April. In C (featured at the MIT CAST Marathon in 2013)—which Riley composed on a bus while en route to a gig—has proven seminal, its influence being heard in works by Steve Reich, John Adams, The Who (“Baba O’Riley” is a direct homage), and innumerable electronica artists world wide. In the 50 years since, Riley’s hypnotic, multi-layered, and multi-cultural approach to music has proven equally inspiring and influential.

From his early 60s tape loop and trance music experiments and collaborations with La Monte Young to his study of Hindustani musical traditions, Riley is a true musical innovator. His recordings of In C, A Rainbow in Curved Air, Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band and the Church of Anthrax were all issued by CBS Masterworks in 1968-69. In 1970, Riley became a disciple of the revered North Indian Raga Vocalist Pandit Pran Nath, appearing frequently in concert with the legendary singer as a tampura, tabla and vocal accompanist. His long-standing collaboration with David Harrington, founder and leader of the Kronos Quartet, has produced thirteen award-winning string quartets, a quintet, and a concerto for string quartet. Riley’s Cadenza on the Night Plain was selected by both Time and Newsweek as one of the ten best classical albums of the year. The epic five-quartet cycle, Salome Dances for Peace, was selected as the #1 Classical album album of the year by USA Today and was nominated for a Grammy.

Riley first came to MIT in 2011, when Gamelan Galak Tika premiered his White Space Conflict for gamelan and electronics.  In 2015, MTA and CAST celebrate Riley’s 80th birthday with a concert spanning the depth and breadth of his work and influence. The concert included new works commissioned and performed in Riley’s honor by pianist Sarah Cahill; first-ever improvisations by Riley & Eviyan (featuring Iva Bittova and Gyan Riley), a spectacular multi-saxophone version of the classic Poppy Nogood, and a reprise performance of White Space Conflict.

Terry Riley’s visit to the Institute is part of MIT Sounding, an innovative annual performance series that blurs the boundaries between contemporary and world music. Curated by Evan Ziporyn, Faculty Director of the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology, the 2014-15 season of MIT Sounding’s diverse offerings range from live performances by new music pioneer Alvin Lucier to early music denizens Boston Camerata and the Grammy Award-winning ensemble Roomful of Teeth.

The 2014-15 MIT Sounding Performance Series is presented by the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) and MIT Music and Theater Arts.

Terry Riley launched what is now known as the Minimalist movement with his revolutionary classic In C in 1964. This seminal work provided a new concept in musical form, based on interlocking repetitive patterns. Changing the course of 20th century music, In C‘s influence has been heard in the works of many prominent composers.

Riley’s hypnotic, multi-layered, polymetric, brightly orchestrated Eastern-flavored improvisations set the stage for the prevailing interest in a new tonality. From his early 60s tape loop and trance music experiments and collaborations with La Monte Young to his study of Hindustani musical traditions, Riley is a true musical innovator.

Riley’s recordings of In C, A Rainbow in Curved Air, Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band and the Church of Anthrax were all issued by CBS Masterworks in 1968-69. In 1970, Terry became a disciple of the revered North Indian Raga Vocalist Pandit Pran Nath, appearing frequently in concert with the legendary singer as a tampura, tabla and vocal accompanist. His long-standing collaboration with David Harrington, founder and leader of the Kronos Quartet, has produced thirteen award-winning string quartets, a quintet and a concerto for string quartet. Riley’s Cadenza on the Night Plain was selected by both Time and Newsweek as one of the ten best classical albums of the year. The epic five quartet cycle, Salome Dances for Peace, was selected as the #1 Classical album album of the year by USA Today and was nominated for a Grammy. The orchestral piece Jade Palace was commissioned by Carnegie Hall for the Centennial celebration in 1990/91.

More at the artist’s website: Terry Riley.

 

Past Events

Terry Riley’s 80th Birthday Concert
April 18, 2015 / 7:00pm
MIT Kresge Auditorium, MIT Building W16
48 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA

Featuring Terry Riley, Eviyan (featuring Iva Bittova & Gyan Riley), Gamelan Galak Tika, Sarah Cahill, Wallace Halladay and the University of Toronto Saxophone Ensemble, Eliot Gategno. World premiere of Evan Ziporyn’s all-live multi-saxophone version of Riley’s classic Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band; also world premieres of new works in honor of Terry Riley by Keeril Makan, Elena Ruehr, Christine Southworth.

Los Angeles Times: Music Review: Terry Riley: “Olson III,” Jacaranda at Santa Monica First Presbyterian Church

The Guardian: A guide to Terry Riley’s music

New York Magazine: Terry Riley’s In C, the founding work of minimalism, finally makes it to Carnegie Hall

Terry Riley performs at LIFEM, 2010
Terry Riley performs at LIFEM, 2010.