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Steve Reich @ 70 on WNYC

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It's hard to talk about the pioneering composer Steve Reich without considering the many artists he has influenced -- rockers like David Bowie and Sufjan Stevens, electronic musicians from Brian Eno to DJ Spooky, visual artists like Bruce Nauman, and choreographers such as Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Akram Khan.

Such is Reich's sweeping influence that three of New York’s major cultural centers are joining forces this fall to celebrate his 70th birthday (October 3, 2006): the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. In addition, Nonesuch Records is releasing a 5-CD compilation and Reich’s own ensemble will be giving the New York premiere of "Daniel Variations" for voices and ensemble at Carnegie Hall on Oct. 21

Along with the above activities, Reich is a guest on WNYC’s Soundcheck on October 3 discussing his latest projects including the Reich, as many WNYC listeners know, has been a frequent guest at the station over the years. John Schaefer first began hosting him on his New Sounds program in the early 1980s - a show which has sought to illuminate connections between musicians like Reich and others with much different backgrounds.


“Recently, the online music site asked me for a list of a dozen Hip Classical recordings, fully expecting a list populated by young, rock-infected composers," says Schaefer. "I felt I had to point out that Steve Reich is merely the hippest composer alive, and perhaps hipper now at 70 then when he was 30.’ That’s a pretty good trick.”

Below are four classic shows, spanning two decades, that have prominently featured Reich.


Steve Reich: American Portraits Series

February 12, 1988

Reich joined John Schaefer in 1988 as part of WNYC’s American Music Festival, in which he discusses and performs his work. Hear excerpts from “Tehillim,” “Desert Music,” Sextet, and a live performance of “Clapping Music.”

Steve Reich, American Portraits 1988



Composers’ Showcase at Whitney Museum of American Art

January 6, 1981

Steve Reich and Musicians perform the world premiere of Reich's “My Name Is,” along with “Clapping Music,” Octet, and Variations for Winds, Strings and Keyboards. Read the New York Times review of the concert.

Listen to the concert (part 1)

Listen to the concert (part 2)


Reich on New Sounds Live

Sunday, December 11, 2005

From the New Sounds Live concerts, the east coast new music ensemble Alarm Will Sound plays Reich’s Music For Mallet Instruments, Voices, And Organ (Show #2250).

New Sounds #2250

Meet the Composer: A Survey of American Music with Steve Reich

June 19, 1985

Host Tim Page (now the Pulitzer Prize-winning music critic of the Washington Post) speaks with Reich in a one-hour special. Musical selections include the Octet and portions of “Desert Music.”

Listen to the whole show

"Music for 18 Musicians" - opening thru section II

Live recording of World Premiere
April 24, 1976 at Town Hall, New York City
by Steve Reich and Musicians
©Steve Reich + Hendon Music - Boosey & Hawkes BMI

Listen Download it

Reich around New York (2006):

Carnegie Hall Oct. 13-19: professional training workshop and young artists concert in Zankel Hall; Oct. 21-22: concerts with Steve Reich and Musicians, Pat Metheny and the Kronos Quartet, among others; and an afternoon of discussion and performance in Weill Recital Hall. Details at Carnegie Hall’s Web site

BAM October 3-7: Dance works: Choreography by Akram Khan and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, with the London Sinfonietta. BAM Howard Gilman Opera House. Details at BAM’s Web site

Lincoln Center Oct. 28: Los Angeles Master Chorale in Alice Tully Hall; Nov. 2-4: Performances of ''The Cage'' at John Jay College. Details at Lincoln Center’s Web site

Whitney Museum of Art Oct. 15: A free four-hour concert by groups including Alarm Will Sound. Details at The Whitney Museum’s Web site

Additional Resources:

A Steve Reich Timeline
Steve Reich news, performance calendar, sound samples, and more at Boosey & Hawkes.

Text by Brian Wise. Special thanks to the WNYC Archives and WNYC engineer Bill O'Neil for their assistance.