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PREVIEW | Soundstreams' Steve Reich: Now & Then Celebrates The American Composer’s 86th Birthday

By Anya Wassenberg on February 10, 2023

L-R (clockwise): Steve Reich (Photo: Jay Blakesberg); TorQ (Photo: Matt Russo); Nexus (Photo courtesy of thea artists)
L-R (clockwise): Steve Reich (Photo: Jay Blakesberg); TorQ (Photo: Matt Russo); Nexus (Photo courtesy of the artists)

Soundstreams’ next concert will spotlight legendary American contemporary composer Steve Reich in honour of his 86th birthday. The program, titled Steve Reich: Now & Then will include performance by NEXUS, TorQ, lowPitchSound and Ensemble Soundstreams, and the Canadian premiere of Reich/Richter for chamber orchestra and film. The concert will take place March 25.

Steve Reich

At 86, Steve Reich maintains an active schedule that has included album releases, premieres, books and more. He’s long been tied to the minimalist movement, from its beginnings as a fringe genre to its wide acceptance in contemporary music. His works have garnered numerous awards, and he’s toured the globe with his ensemble, Steve Reich and Musicians.

His innovative work has influenced many modern composers.

The programme + performers

Composer SlowPitchSound, aka Cheldon Paterson, will open the programme with the Soundstreams 40th anniversary fanfare. SlowPitchSound is a composer/turntablist – he calls it “sci-fi turntablism”. His method incorporates field recordings, samples, scratching, and modified sounds in layers. He’s worked in a variety of forms, including classical music and opera, as well as jazz, electronica, and music for theatre and dance performance.

The new Fanfare was inspired by Stravinsky’s Fanfare for a New Theatre, which he wrote for the opening of Lincoln Centre in 1964. Stravinsky’s Fanfare was the first work that opened Soundstreams’ inaugural season back in 1982.

Steve Reich’s Drumming was programmed to mark both the 50th anniversary of Nexus, and the piece’s original premiere. It will be performed by Toronto-based percussion ensembles NEXUS and TorQ Percussion Quartet.

Based in Toronto, Nexus was formed by American ex-pat musicians as a percussion ensemble with an eclectic and experimental repertoire. Their performances might incorporate anything from traditional African drumming to the work of 21st century artists, and percussion instruments from many of the world’s musical traditions.

Richard Burrows, Adam Campbell, Jamie Drake and Daniel Morphy make up TorQ Percussion Quartet, committed to the work of Canadian composers. They’ve premiered over 80 pieces by Canadian composers, as well as the works created by individual members of the ensemble. The ensemble has toured extensively in Canada and the US.

The Ensemble Soundstreams will be conducted by Gary Kulesha in the Canadian premiere of Reich/Richter, a piece for chamber orchestra and film. The 2019 work features music by Steve Reich in a film by Gerhard Richter & Corinna Belz.

Soundstreams + Steve Reich

The music of the innovative composer has found a welcome home at Soundstreams, which has presented his works for the last two decades. That’s not his only Toronto connection. Three members of NEXUS — Russell Hartenberger, Bob Becker, and Garry Kvistad — were long time members of the Steve Reich Ensemble. Soundstreams co-commissioned his Mallet Quartet in 2011.

“No music, whether Canadian or otherwise, exists in a vacuum: it seeps across boundaries both real
and imagined,” says Soundstreams Artistic Director Lawrence Cherney in a statement. “Seminal figures like Stravinsky, Steve Reich and R. Murray Schafer have profoundly changed the way we hear our world. Our fortieth anniversary season is a joyous celebration of Canadian music and some of the influences that have shaped it, in this case, that of Steve Reich, recently described by the New York Times as “one of our greatest living composers.””

Tickets for STEVE REICH: Now & Then on March 25 at the George Weston Recital Hall, Meridian Arts Centre are on sale now here.


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