Music for 18 UVa Students

March 30th, 2008 · 1 Comment · By

(Steve Reich)

There’s a performance of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians at Old Cabell Hall tonight. For those who don’t know, it’s a 1976 minimalist composition for an ensemble of xylophones, marimbas, cellos, clarinets, pianos, and female vocalists. It’s an hour-long piece involving heavy use of phasing; particularly memorable are the moments where the double-malleted xylophones are all slowly synchronizing and de-synchronizing with each other. The end result is essentially an hour of ecstatic, high-energy euphoric chiming and pleasant sonic pulsing; you can hear a short sample of the piece here.

I’ve seen it performed live before, and it’s totally stunning (I’ve also seen it rehearsed, which is an interesting spectacle itself…) It’s a pretty classic work, generally agreed to be Reich’s magnum opus; it has all the gritty formal clarity and structural concerns of his early pieces, but lacks the Glass-esque sentimentality of his later stuff; it’s definitely worth checking out. It’s at Old Cabell Hall on the UVa Grounds at 8pm, and it’s free.

Also at UVa tonight; OFFscreen is showing a double-bill for Women’s History Month: The full-length film Jellyfish weaves together stories of three different Israeli women to form a poignant, witty and cinematic picture of life in Tel Aviv. The short film The Women’s Kingdom follows a reporter to southwest China to document one of the last matriarchal societies in the world. The total running time of the program is 100 minutes, so both films are screening at both 7pm and 9:30. It’s $3, or free for OFFscreen members.

Tags: preview

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 James // Mar 30, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Recently, I’ve actually been totally obsessed with Steve Reich’s “Four Organs,” which I have to say is my favorite thing of his. Coincidentally, I recently heard it — of all places — on the WTJU classical music show (during which several listeners called to complain that the CD was skipping… clearly their listening skills need some sharpening).

    Despite my cruel swipe at Phillip Glass in the post above, I should note that he’s forever redeemed himself in my eyes by having been one of the original Four Organists back in 1970.

    As a piece of music it’s both immediately compelling and almost maddeningly slow; something about the constant tempo on the maracas is somehow kind of silly and totally badass at the same time. I first heard “Four Organs” at a mellow house party in California where the room was sharply divided between those who were hypnotized and those who wanted to smash the record player.

    Anyhow, I’ve re-discovered that piece in the last few weeks, and I’ve been playing the CD a lot, much to the annoyance of my friends and co-workers; it’s been about as well-recieved as my newfound enthusiasm for Black Metal (which is to say, not well-recieved at all). But don’t let that stop you from checking out the piece at UVa tonight; that work is much, much more accessible; almost euphorically pleasant.