SMU Meadows’ SYZYGY and Percussion Ensemble to present Steve Reich’s "Music for 18 Musicians"
Landmark, rarely performed piece by Pulitzer-winning composer casts hypnotic spell
SYZYGY, the contemporary music ensemble of SMU, in partnership with the Meadows Percussion Ensemble, will present Steve Reich’s groundbreaking, joyful and rarely performed chamber work Music for 18 Musicians at Dallas’ Moody Performance Hall on Friday, February 23 at 7:30 p.m.
With rhythmic pulsing and ever-changing shades of consonant harmony, Music for 18 Musicians is regarded as a high-water mark in traditional minimalist composition. It incorporates pianos, keyboard percussion, winds, strings and vocalists, transforming into a wide variety of textures and colors over its hour-long running time, resulting in an almost hypnotic effect on the listener. First performed in 1976, the work is considered a masterpiece by Reich, whose numerous awards include the Pulitzer Prize. The concert will also include video projections of abstract images that take shape depending on what musical sounds are made. The algorithms for the projections are designed by Ira Greenberg, director of SMU’s Center of Creative Computation.
“Music for 18 Musicians is the finest musical representation of pure joy ever written,” said Jon Lee, director of the Meadows Percussion Ensemble.
“The piece has widespread appeal – fans of contemporary art music, hip hop, indie, electronic music, and classical music all point to it as among their absolute favorites,” said Lane Harder, director of SYZYGY. “The experience of hearing it shares the immediacy and visceral quality that a lot of pop or world music has.”
Harder added that most people know the work from the Grammy-winning 1978 recording by Steve Reich and Musicians. “It was released on a label known for selling pop and rock recordings, ECM, and it sold over 100,000 copies in the first year. In recent years, scores and parts have been made available to the public, and for the first two years after its availability, it was the biggest seller in the Boosey & Hawkes classical music catalog.”
Moody Performance Hall is located at 2520 Flora St. in downtown Dallas (75201). Tickets are $14 for adults, $11 for seniors and $8 for students and educators.
For more information, contact the Meadows box office at 214-768-2787.
About the Performers
SYZYGY is the contemporary music ensemble of the Meadows School of the Arts, directed by Lane Harder. It performs new music and music of the recent past with an emphasis on the music of living composers. SYZYGY’s performance events aim to create encounters with contemporary music that are innovative and engaging for diverse audiences. The ensemble’s repertoire includes aggressive programming on many important themes including gender identity, domestic violence, gender roles, human connections, existentialism, and the effects of politics on individuals, among others. Under Harder’s direction, SYZYGY has collaborated in and on live performances with DJ Spooky, Cezanne Quartet, Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet, Artists for Animals, and many others. Through SYZYGY, Lane Harder curates the SYZYGY@131 concert series at Site131, a contemporary art gallery in the Design District of Dallas.
The Meadows Percussion Ensemble, directed by Jon D. Lee, is dedicated to the performance of new and traditional percussion ensemble literature. The ensemble has performed at a number of national and international conferences, including those for the Texas Music Educators Association, Percussive Arts Society and World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles. Recent collaborations have included performances with the SYZYGY ensemble at the Meadows School of the Arts and the Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet. The ensemble has also premiered a number of works, including Lane Harder’s La Razon del Viaje, Robert Xavier Rodriguez’s Xochiquetzal, John Gibson’s Aqalani and Koda, Warren Benson’s Drums of Summer, Stephen Jones’ strike 2, Anne Strickland’s Fascinating Notions, Kevin Hanlon’s Kickin’ It, Jenny Olivia Johnson’s I Refuse to Mourn and G. Bradley Bodine’s Namaste: Concerto for Marimba and Percussion Ensemble. The ensemble has recorded two CDs on the Gasparo label, Strike: the Music of Motion and Contact.
For more information, visit SMU Music Ensembles