Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

NMF thriller shows Reich's sterling genius

Great night with WSO players at their finest

  • Print

Legendary composer Steve Reich showed Winnipeggers Thursday night why he's regarded one of the greatest living musical artists on the planet today.

The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's 22nd annual New Music Festival is featuring the New York City- and Vermont-based composer as its distinguished guest composer. Reich, 76, is in town this week to hear seven of his iconic works performed during the nightly celebration of contemporary music. The NMF's all-Reich concert, aptly titled Steve Reich's Chamber Music, showcased four classics performed by members of the WSO as well as special guest artists.

Different Trains (1988) is an arresting work for string quartet with pre-recorded tape that chronicles Reich's own journey riding transcontinental trains after his parents separated. The Jewish composer came to realize he would have been riding very different trains in Europe during those same wartime years. The WSO's Clearwater Quartet (Gwen Hoebig, concertmaster; Karl Stobbe, violin; Daniel Scholz, viola; Yuri Hooker, cello) fearlessly performed its three movements -- with Reich riding levels in the sound booth with raw energy and fierce concentration. As their stringed instruments doubled the speech patterns of the pre-recorded tracks excerpted from Reich's governess, the Pullman porter and three Holocaust survivors, the Grammy-award-winning piece steadily grows in cumulative power, hurtling like its own runaway train punctuated by screaming train whistles. Bravo to these four players for an unforgettable performance.

The concert opened with Clapping Music (1972) performed by four members of the University of Manitoba Percussion Ensemble (director, Victoria Sparks). Intricate clapping patterns are woven like a tapestry as individual performers fall in and out of synchronization with each other.

Realizing these youthful musicians are roughly the same age as Reich when he first burst onto the New York avant-garde arts scene in the mid-1960s provided great poignancy, showing the continuity of generations.

Guest saxophonist Allen Harrington also delivered a riveting New York Counterpoint, with multiple pre-recorded tracks of his own horn. Performing live on soprano sax, Harrington blew for all he was worth, easily handling the jazzy riffs and licks as well as repetitive single-note motives interlaced throughout the rhythmically propulsive piece.

In Tandem -- retitled from Reich's 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning score Double Sextet, featured choreographer Peter Quanz's company Q Dance, comprised of an elite ensemble of Royal Winnipeg Ballet dancers. Premièred by New York City's Guggenheim Museum Works & Process series in 2009 with the composer in attendance, this performance, notably, marked the first time Quanz's signature work has been performed with live music.

A live sextet comprised of Hoebig, Hooker, Jan Kocman (flute), Micah Heilbrunn (clarinet), David Moroz (piano) and Ben Reimer (vibraphone) were led by Richard Lee against a pre-recorded track of a second ensemble. The multimedia collaboration is a stirring testament to the versatility of Reich's vision and tireless imagination.

As expected, the multi-generational crowd of 866 leapt to its feet, roaring its approval for the performance, as well as the night's rich bounty of Reich's music, as the composer took the stage for a well-deserved bow.

The NMF continues until Saturday at the Centennial Concert Hall.

holly.harris@shaw.ca

CONCERT REVIEW

Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra

New Music Festival

Centennial Concert Hall

Thursday, January 31

Attendance: 866

(Five stars out of five)

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 1, 2013 A18

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Willy wants to get back to winning

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A gosling stares near water at Omands Creek Park-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 25– June 21, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A monarch butterfly looks for nectar in Mexican sunflowers at Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Monday afternoon-Monarch butterflys start their annual migration usually in late August with the first sign of frost- Standup photo– August 22, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Are you worried Ebola might make its way to Canada?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google