Ke-Nekt concert to honor composer Steve Reich

Steve Reich“Homage to Steve Reich” will celebrate the composer’s work at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, in the Sheldon Hall ballroom as part of SUNY Oswego’s Ke-Nekt Chamber Music Series.

The New York Times has called Reich, who is scheduled to attend the concert, both “our greatest living composer” and “among the great composers of the century,” while the New Yorker tabbed him “the most original musical thinker of our time.”

Since graduating from Cornell University 50 years ago, Reich has blazed a trail through traditional Western classical music, while incorporating the structures, harmonies and rhythms of non-Western and American vernacular musical styles, especially jazz.

His far-reaching influence was shown when his 70th birth-year anniversary in 2006 brought major performance retrospectives in New York City and London and across the globe, from Amsterdam and Athens to Vancouver and Vienna.

“There’s just a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history and Steve Reich is one of them,” the Guardian once wrote.

Reich incorporated experimental touches early on, such as his musical taped speeches “It’s Gonna Rain” and “Come Out” in 1965 and 1966, respectively. His 1998 piece “Different Trains” used speech recordings to generate musical material and was hailed by the New York Times as “a work of such astonishing originality that breakthrough seems the only possible description.” He earned a Grammy for Best Original Composition in 1990 for the Kronos Quartet’s performance of the piece.

In 1997, Nonesuch Records released a 10-CD retrospective box set of his work in honor of Reich’s 60th birthday. Two years later, he earned a second Grammy for his composition “Music for 18 Musicians.”

Reich has stayed active and on the cutting edge, as shown by his 2002 collaboration with Beryl Korot for the digital video opera “Three Tales,” inspired by 20th century events charting the growth and implications of technology. September 2006 saw the release of his second box set, “Phases: A Nonesuch Retrospective.” In April of this year, he received a Chubb Fellowship at Yale University.

Along the way, he has earned top international achievement awards everywhere from North America to Tokyo to Stockholm; seen his music performed by major orchestras worldwide; and had prominent choreographers create dances to his pieces.

The SUNY Oswego Ke-Nekt concert will feature some of Reich’s most notable pieces. Cellist Felix Fan will perform “Cello Counterpoint for Amplified Cello and Multi-Channel Tape.” The multimedia “Piano/Video Phase” will feature sought-after percussionist David Cossin. Keyboardists Robert Auler and Andrew Russo will join percussionists Joanna Anderson, Robert Bridge, Cossin and Jennifer Vacanti for “Sextet for Percussion and Keyboards.” 

Auler will lead an admission-free informance discussing and performing Reich’s work at 12:45 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, in the Sheldon Hall ballroom, part of SUNY Oswego’s College Hour programming.

Tickets to the full-length evening concert cost $15 ($10 for senior citizens or students, $5 for SUNY Oswego students). The show is presented in cooperation with Le Moyne College and Onondaga Community College.

For information or reservations, call 312-2141, e-mail or visit

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(Posted: Sep 19, 2007)