Entertainment » Music

Steve Reich -- Music For 18 Musicians

by Steven Bergman
Contributor
Saturday Sep 14, 2013
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One of the landmark compositions in the world of 20th century music is Steve Reich’s "Music for 18 Musicians." Written between 1974 and 1976, the hour-long work is an aural masterpiece, and when presented, can absorb an audience into a cocoon of sound, embracing its minimalist style, and traveling along a expansive road at high speed through its performance.

The New Music Ensemble of Grand Valley State University, under the direction of Bill Ryan, was formed in 2006 to explore the challenging yet highly fulfilling world of new music. With credentials ranging from New York City’s "Bang On A Can" marathon to frequent participation in the New Music Detroit festival, the group has established itself as an oasis for new music in the Midwest. Its repertoire not only includes work by Reich, but also Terry Riley, John Luther Adams, John Cage and the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang.

In 2007, Innova Recordings released the ensemble’s debut release of Reich’s "Music for 18 Musicians," and the label has now re-released the album for fans of the genre to continue the discovering of this talented and committed group of musicians. Well-rehearsed and recorded in surround sound, this recording of "Music for 18 Musicians" is highly recommended for its transcendence of the listener into the fast-paced world of constant motion, played with a forward momentum that is relentless in its deference.

From the opening marimba pattern of "Pulses," the ensemble attacks Reich’s work with a passion and respect for the composition. The vocal interjections are seamless and not over-present, and the timbre of the clarinet patterns are assets without becoming obvious. For lover’s of new music, or even those looking to initially explore the genre, the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble’s release of "Music for 18 Musicians" is a great jumping-off point.

"Music for 18 Musicians"
Steve Reich / Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble
CD and digital formats
Innova Recordings

Steven Bergman is a Composer / Playwright / Performing Arts Educator based outside of Boston, MA.

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