Back in January I hosted a birthday bash for Phillip Glass, but today is infinitely more special as today is the birthday of my personal favourite modern composer. October 3rd, 2007 is when Steve Reich turns 71! Reich is a personal hero of mine, ever since I went to see some of his work played in the National Concert Hall last year. Here's what I thought of that performance (bear in mind this was written just after the concert and I was still on a high, so please excuse the hyperbole)
Part of my 17th birthday present was the Steve Reich boxset, Phases which includes all his major works, from Music For 18 Musicians, Different Trains and Come Out. I'll be listening to some of it before I drop off to sleep tonight, that's for sure. Last year when he turned 70, online music journal Pitchfork hosted a lengthy interview with him, which you can read here. I love reading interviews with Reich, he always seems to be completely down-to-earth and refreshingly unpretentious. Take, for example, his take on whether people need to understand the theory behind his work in order to enjoy it:
"I don't care how much people understand what it is that I'm doing, except if they're players in my ensemble or other ensembles [Laughs]. I just want people to be moved by the music. If you're not moved by the music, then everything else falls away. You're not interested in the text, you're not interested in how it was done, and you're not interested in interviewing the composer and all the rest of it. We're speaking together because you found something interesting that moved you emotionally, is my guess. Or we wouldn't be having this conversation. It's the part of music that's the hardest to talk about, and I don't spend much time talking about it. But it is the bottom line."
Finally, here's a quick video of Reich talking about his music and ethos, from earlier this year. Apparently he won the Polaris Music Prize? Who knew?
Happy birthday, Reich-man!