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Festival Alum: Flashback/Flashforward

Jennifer Koh

Violinist Jennifer Koh reflects on her 2017 Festival debut, performing Vijay Iyer’s world premiere of Trouble and its significance even today; she also reminisces on her “Bach & Beyond” concert in 2017 and her current projects including working with 2017 composer Courtney Bryan!

 

Vijay Iyer

 

2017 Music Director Vijay Iyer talks about his Festival debut as both musician and composer that also brought his collaborators to create a thought-provoking, community-making immersive experience. He shares his memories of the music-packed Thursday night concert that gave us both two premieres and a performance with the great Wadada Leo Smith.

As he taped this video at his home in New York for us, he also gave us an update on upcoming projects:

“The biggest news is that I have a new album titled UnEasy,in a trio format with Tyshawn Sorey (drums) and Linda May Han Oh (contrabass), due out April 9 on ECM Records. We intend to play some trio concerts as soon as possible! My piece “Bruits” (2014) for piano and wind quintet is featured on a new album of the same name by Imani Winds, with Cory Smythe on piano, due out February 5 on Bright Shiny Things. I just wrote a new solo piece for Matt Haimovitz titled “Equal Night,” which he recorded for his Primavera project, due out this spring on Oxingale Records. I also recently composed “The Window,” a duo for cellist Inbal Segev and myself; “Crown Thy Good,” a solo variation of a certain American anthem for pianist Min Kwon; “Plinth for Kwame Ture,” a solo piano piece for Shai Wosner; and “For Violin Alone,” a very short piece for Jennifer Koh; all of these will be recorded soon. In the longer term, I’m also working on a cello concerto for Inbal, and a large-ensemble project with Wadada Leo Smith and Peter Sellars, and I’m contributing to a new project for Boston Lyric Opera. Details to follow!”

Relive the Thursday June 8, 2017 concerts

 

Vijay Iyer: Emergence 
Vijay Iyer:  
Trouble 
Vijay Iyer/Wadada Leo Smith:  A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke 

2017 Program book notes by Christopher Hailey 

Not so long ago Vijay Iyer said that “to succeed in America is, somehow, to be complicit with the idea of America— which means that at some level you’ve made peace with its rather ugly past.” Iyer went on to urge his audience not to allow this ugly past to determine our future. “What I humbly ask of you, and of myself,” he concluded, “is that
 we constantly interrogate our own complicity with excess, that we always remain vigilant to notions of community that might—perhaps against our best intentions, sometimes—embrace a system of domination at the expense of others.” This concert explores three contexts for this kind of balanced creative interaction: between differently constituted ensembles; between a soloist and an orchestra; and between two artists across generations.

Iyer has written of Emergence: “Emergence is a composition for my group, the Vijay Iyer Trio, plus chamber orchestra. This piece situates our trio’s collaborative improvisational language in the context of a classical ensemble. In juxtaposing the respective powers of these very different ensembles, and featuring them separately and together, we explore how these two contrasting perspectives on music might coexist. The trio’s specialized skills of internal rhythmic synchronization and organic creative embellishment exist in relief against the orchestra’s interpretive powers, range of colors, and sheer physical spread of sound. In this piece, the trio should not be featured up front in a typical “concerto” formation, but rather in the rear of the orchestra, driving the energy from within the ensemble. At times this “rhythm section” function may challenge the role of the conductor, since the sense of pulse is often guided sonically by the trio. In addition, at certain moments, the orchestral players are asked to make choices in real time, sometimes by listening and responding to each other, which challenges the centrality of the score and the composer. These reconsiderations of authority and agency are key questions for me as a composer and improviser.”

Here, as in all of Iyer’s writing, terms like “authority” and “agency,” “community,” and  “collaboration” point to his understanding that music can serve as an analogue and laboratory for social formation and action. We see it in the abstract in Emergence; in Trouble it is explicit: “Good trouble,” “necessary trouble”— these are favorite phrases of U.S. Representative John Lewis, referring to the strategies and tactics of the Civil Rights movement and the ongoing struggles for equality and justice in the last six decades. When meeting with Jennifer Koh over the past year to discuss the details of this piece, I often found it difficult to focus; typically we found ourselves instead recoiling in horror at the events of any given day. This pattern has only intensified since January 20th, as we find our communities, our country, and our planet in greater peril with each passing hour. In creating the piece I found myself both channeling and pushing against the sensation of extreme precarity that pervades our moment.”

Here, too, is a work that explores the relationship between musical forces, though Iyer sought to avoid the clichés of the virtuoso concerto: “I didn’t want to rehash the typical narrative positioning a heroic individual over or against a multitude. Ms. Koh told me that the soloist could instead be viewed as someone willing to be vulnerable, to publicly venture where most people won’t, to accept a role that no one else will accept, to bear the unbearable. In other words, the soloist can embody the relationship of an artist to her community: not so much a “leader” or “hero,” but something more like a shaman, a conduit for the forces in motion around us.”

Although Trouble is not a programmatic work it is informed by the experience of its time. “The short second movement,” Iyer writes, “is dedicated to Vincent Chin, whose murder in the early ’80s signaled an ongoing pattern of violent hate crimes against people of color. His death became a watershed moment for antiracist activism, which is as urgently needed today as it has ever been.”

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“If you look at my collaborations,” Iyer has said, “it is very much in line with all these others in the sense that it is a building of community, particularly among artists of color. This is what I learned from the example of elder African-American artists, which is where it is all coming from; to refuse to be silenced.”

Wadada Leo Smith has not been silent.  He came of age during the 1950s and was a witness of the civil rights battles of the 1960s. His Ten Freedom Summers
was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music, described by the jury as “an expansive jazz work that memorialized 10 key moments in the history of civil rights in America, fusing composed and improvised passages into powerful, eloquent music.” The power and eloquence of Smith’s voice is felt across a range of activities, including composing, performing, improvising, teaching, and writing. For Vijay Iyer he is “a hero, friend, and teacher” of the past two decades, in particular through his own participation in Smith’s Golden Quartet:

“The group’s broad palette included ‘pure’ tones and distorted sound, motion and stillness, melody and noise. In quartet performances, Wadada and I often became a unit-within-the-unit, generating spontaneous duo episodes as formal links. In the process, a space of possibility emerged that introduced me to other systems of musicmaking.”

Their special chemistry bore fruit in a joint album, A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke (2016), which has been lauded by critics for its “charismatic delicacy and subtle force” and an “awareness and acuity between the players that overlaps and breaks away on razor-thin margins.”

Like Iyer, Smith believes that music is a reflection of and means for engaging with social and political experience. Music, he has said, “allows the person a moment to reflect minus the distraction of living and being involved in living. And that reflection allows them that little moment with themselves so that they can figure out the best way to maneuver through this maze of a society.” People’s problems may still be there, he concedes, “but they have experienced a few moments of liberation to give them enough energy to carry on until the next challenge comes.”

“You run through your life,” he concludes, “and you hope that you can show something that enlightens somebody at some point in time. And if that happens, then that is really leading to a better humanity, a better society.”

 

Anthony Romaniuk

72nd Ojai Music Festival

Across Time, Part 1

William Byrd – Fantasy in C Major
Henry Purcell – Fairest Isle from King Arthur (arr. Anthony Romaniuk)
Johann Sebastian Bach – Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in D minor
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach – Fantasy in F#
Dmitri Shostakovich – Prelude in A minor
Dmitri Shostakovich – Fugue in C Major
Bela Bartok – First Dance in Bulgarian Rhythm from Mikrokosmos, Book VI
George Crumb – Twin Suns from Makrokosmos, Book II
Gyorgy Ligeti – White on White from Etudes, Book III
Henry Purcell – Fantasia No. 10 in C minor 

Anthony Romaniuk, piano and harpsichord
Patricia Kopatchinskaja, violin | JACK Quartet

Program Notes
by Christopher Hailey

We improvise with what is in our grasp, by shaping that which is; we mourn with empty hands, reaching out for that which was. This concert in two parts explores presence and absence, the self-sufficient ‘kingdom of the mind’ and the exile of grief.

The fantasy, prelude, fugue, and etude all have roots in improvisation, the capacity to elaborate, ex tempore, on an idea, a theme or motif. William Byrd created the template for the keyboard fantasy in late Renaissance England, a form described by Thomas Morley as a piece in which “a musician taketh a point at his pleasure, and wresteth and turneth it as he list, making either much or little of it according as shall seeme best in his own conceit.” Henry Purcell, without a doubt the finest English composer of his era, influenced Benjamin Britten, among others, with his operas, including King Arthur; his fantasias for viol consort, on the other hand, look back to Byrd and Morley and were among the last of their kind. Less than half a century later J. S. Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue represents a significant expansion upon Byrd’s and Purcell’s model, combining elements of both toccata and recitative in the fantasy and improvisatory freedom in a three-voice fugue on an extended and highly chromatic subject.

The emotional intensity of the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue is unusual for Bach, but wholly characteristic of his son, Carl Philipp Emanuel, who, like his father, was renowned for his keyboard improvisations. Charles Burney, after a visit with the younger Bach, described an impromptu after-dinner concert during which Bach “grew so animated and possessed, that he not only played, but looked like one inspired. His eyes were fixed, his under lip fell, and drops of effervescence distilled from his countenance.” The Fantasy in F minor is a late work, whose remarkable expressive range inspired tonight’s free adaption for keyboard and violin.

Dimitri Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes and Fugues pay homage to the 48 of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier through numerous direct and indirect allusions.

In the etudes that follow, the instrument at hand is both subject and medium, the musical idea cloaked as a technical challenge. Béla Bartók’s six books of Mikrokosmos, composed between 1926 and 1939, are pedagogical in intent. The first number of book VI, “Free Variations,” features mixed meter rhythms derived from Bulgarian folk music. “Two Suns,” from the second book of George Crumb’s Makrokosmos (another act of homage), explores piano resonance through direct manipulation of its strings. In György Ligeti’s White on White, from his unfinished third book of etudes, a tranquil opening canon is followed by a frenzy of polyrhythms; only at the end do black keys intrude upon the white-key expanses.

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Julia Bullock

70th Ojai Music Festival

KAIJA SAARIAHO’S La Passion De Simone

Julia Bullock, soprano
Joana Carneiro, conductor
Peter Sellars, director
ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble) 
Roomful of Teeth

Program Notes
by Christopher Hailey

That may depend on which Simone. Simone Weil was many things: a brilliant philosopher, a wayward Marxist theoretician (and sparring partner with Trotsky), trade union activist and factory worker, dedicated teacher, linguist, controversial cultural historian, Jewish anti-Semite, pacifist, altruist, anarchist, front-line soldier for the Spanish Republic, ascetic Catholic mystic, member of the French Resistance … “I envied her,” wrote Simone de Beauvoir, “for having a heart which could beat right across the world,” adding elsewhere:

Her intelligence, her asceticism, her total commitment, and her sheer courage – all these filled me with admiration; though I knew that, had she met me, she would have been very far from reciprocating my attitude. I could not absorb her into my universe, and this seemed to constitute a vague threat to me.

The threat is real because Simone Weil was a woman of radical consequence. Throughout her short life every cause, every revelation entailed a course of action; her intellectual, emotional, and spiritual convictions were inscribed in the fiber of her physical being, leading, in the end, to the extinction of that very self.

Simone Weil (1909–43), born in Paris into a loving, well-to-do agnostic Jewish family, had all the benefits of culture and education. She was a brilliant student of philosophy and embarked on a teaching career, which she interrupted to spend a year working in a factory to experience firsthand the workers’ plight. With the rise of Hitler she engaged more directly in contemporary politics, writing essays, leading demonstrations, and joining a fighting brigade against fascism in Spain. While recuperating from a serious accident, a mystical experience led her to embrace Catholicism (without, however, joining the church), after which issues of moral and ethical philosophy began to dominate her thinking. With France, and in particular its Jewish citizens, under threat she accompanied her parents to safety in America, before returning to Britain to serve the French government in exile. Already weakened by tuberculosis, she died, it is said, from self-starvation born of her deep empathy for the suffering of the French people under German occupation. Amin Maalouf has written:

At the age of 34, between the ages of Jesus and Mozart, a young woman decided to leave this world. The time was August 1943, and humanity had just reached a summit of barbarity. Simone Weil passed away without a sound, as if by silent protest, in the anonymity of a small English hospital. Her choice to die speaks to us of her rejection of any form of submission – to violence and hate, to Nazism and Stalinism, but also to a dehumanising industrial society that deprives individuals of their substance and leads them into nothingness. Simone’s writings, most of which were published after her death, are an attempt to find a way out of this nothingness. Her passion is a discreet but powerful signpost in our misguided world.

La Passion de Simone is the result of a collaborative interchange between Maalouf, Kaija Saariaho, and Peter Sellars, who first suggested Weil as a subject for what would become a “Musical Journey in Fifteen Stations.” These collaborators each brought to the project his or her Simone Weil. Saariaho recalls:

… together we chose the different parts of Weil’s work and life for the libretto before I began composing. Whereas I have always been fascinated by Simone’s striving for abstract (mathematical) and spiritual-intellectual goals, Peter is interested in her social awareness and political activities. Amin brought out the gaping discrepancy between her philosophy and her life, showing the fate of the frail human being amongst great ideas. In addition to Simone Weil’s life and ideas, many general questions of human existence are presented in Amin’s text.

Each of the text’s fifteen stations – a structure that recalls the Stations of the Cross of the medieval passion play – presents an aspect of Weil’s life and thinking, though largely seen from the perspective of a narrator, a soprano who represents an imaginary sister – older? younger? we are never sure. In any event this narrator is rooted in a sensibility closer to our own, as she considers Weil from perspectives that are now critical, now puzzled, here accusatory, there awed.

The original version of La Passion de Simone, premiered in Vienna in 2006, is scored for full chorus and orchestra with electronics. In the chamber version, created in 2013 and heard here in its US premiere, the orchestra is reduced to 19 players without electronics and the chorus has become four solo voices. This reduction of forces serves to accentuate the exquisite delicacy of Saariaho’s score, while at the same time introducing an element of astringency to its rich colors and textures. The effect is of a slowly turning cushion of sound that supports both the sinuous line of the narrator’s voice, as well as the dry precision of Weil’s own words, which are interspersed as spoken text.

La Passion de Simone is a work that both lures and cautions. Saariaho’s score is sensuous and enticing – a striking contrast to the prickly sensibility of a woman known for her limitless capacity for compassion, but notoriously averse to physical contact. Maalouf’s narrator invites us to engage with the life of this remarkable woman, but makes clear that she is ultimately unknowable. We approach the unapproachable through a music of crystalline beauty, a text of hesitant astonishment. Simone Weil rushed into possession only to relinquish her hold; we can only follow at a distance.

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Jay Campbell

72nd Ojai Music Festival
Friday Late Night

JOHN LUTHER ADAMS Everything That Rises

JACK Quartet

Program Notes  
by Christopher Hailey  
 
Rise Above 

John Luther Adams has a special relationship with Ojai. Since 2009 eight of his works have been performed here, including three West Coast premieres (Inuksuit in 2012, and Sila: The Breath of the World and Become River in 2015). Ojai is a natural fit for a composer so sensitive to pulse of nature. From the icy expanses of the Alaskan tundra to the naked clarity of the Sonoran Desert, Adams has set out to find “a new music drawn from the light, the air, the landscapes, and the weather” of the environments in which he has lived. These environments in turn have shaped the language and syntax of the music he makes.  

Adams is perhaps best known for works written for orchestra or larger ensembles that are characterized by prismatic colors and complex, interlacing lines. “I never imagined I would write a string quartet. Then I heard the JACK Quartet, and I understood how I might be able to make the medium my own.” His first two string quartets, The Wind in High Places (2011) and untouched (2015) featured natural harmonics and open strings. In the third, Canticles of the Sky (2015), adapted from the choir work Canticles of the Holy Wind, “the musicians finally touch the fingerboards of their instruments.” These three works, roughly twenty minutes each, were followed by Everything That Rises, of which Adams writes:  

This fourth quartet is more expansive, both in time and in space. It grows out of Sila: The Breath of the World − a performance-length choral/orchestral work composed on a rising series of sixteen harmonic clouds. 

Over the course of an hour, the lines spin out − always rising − in acoustically perfect intervals that grow progressively smaller as they spiral upward . . . until the music dissolves into the soft noise of the bows, sighing. 

The quartet consists of two principal elements, a fundamental tone in the cello and, in the upper strings, arrayed across the overtone spectrum, gently ascending gestures inflected by trills. Over the course of the piece these elements gradually rise from the deepest to the highest registers, each instrument seemingly independent, the intervals, drawn from ever higher partials of that fundamental tone, becoming ever smaller, a rainbow unfolding, growing ever brighter in tranquil, invisible radiance.  

Adams shares with Morton Feldman, Pauline Oliveros, Horaţiu Rădulescu, and Georg Friedrich Haas a fascination with the natural harmonic series, both for its inherent beauty and as a way out of the constrictions of languages—whether tonal or serial—based on twelve-note equal-temperament. Theirs is music as a natural phenomenon in which dissonance and consonance, tension and release, departure and arrival are redefined or even abandoned to move beyond polar dichotomies, away from linear narrative toward a new kind of motion, a different sense of time, space, and scale. In Everything That Rises John Luther Adams brings that new sensibility to Ojai at a time of healing and reflection. 

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Aphrodite Patoulidou

73rd Ojai Music Festival
Friday Night, Part II

CLAUDE VIVIER Lonely Child 

Aphrodite Patoulidou soprano | LUDWIG | Barbara Hannigan conductor

Program notes excerpt
By Christopher Hailey

There can be no question that much of Claude Vivier’s music is intensely autobiographical and that is especially true of Lonely Child. Vivier was adopted from an orphanage and never learned the identity of his birth parents or the circumstances of his own conception and birth. He grew up in a working-class neighborhood of Montreal and was sent as a teenager to Catholic boarding schools to prepare him for the priesthood, though he was eventually told that he was temperamentally unsuited to religious orders. It may have been his homosexuality, which he never sought to hide, or his all-consuming passion for music that would lead into composition. The two were thereafter intertwined in a life that was lived recklessly, dangerously, fully. He was murdered at 44 by a young man he had picked up at a Paris bar.

At the time of his death Vivier, whose Ritual Opera Kopernikus was performed at the 2016 Ojai Festival, had already created a body of work that assured his legacy as one of the most distinctive voices of the 20th century. Although that legacy has been slow to reach a wider audience, several works, including Lonely Child, have now earned a firm place in performance and recording. Vivier’s formative influences included the European avant garde of the 1960s, studies with Stockhausen (“the true beginning of my life as a composer”), travel to the Near and Far East (Iran, Japan, Thailand, Bali), and friendship with the pioneers of French spectralism, Gérard Grisey and Tristan Murail. His music often has a ritualistic quality and centers on universal themes of death and transcendence. Vivier has described Lonely Child as “a long song of solitude” composed “without using chords, harmony, or counterpoint,” a homophonic texture that becomes one single, “intervalized” melody:

Thus, there are no longer any chords, and the entire orchestra is then transformed into a timbre. The roughness and the intensity of this timbre depends on the base interval. Musically speaking, there was only one thing I needed to control, which automatically, somehow, would create the rest of the music, that is great beams of color!

The work begins softly, the texture spare, gradually adding layer upon layer before returning to the peace of the opening. The French text, a soothing lullaby, speaks of maternal love, guardian fairies, magic, visions of paradise, and eternal peace in the afterlife. There are also lines in Vivier’s own invented language – phonetic sounds he developed from various real and imagined sources – that can be traced back to the unanswered questions of his birth: “Not knowing my parents enabled me to create a magnificent dream world,” Vivier said shortly before his death. “I shaped my origins exactly as I wished.”

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 Barbara Hannigan

73rd Ojai Music Festival
SCHOENBERG String Quartet No. 2 in F# minor, op. 10 (1908)

Mässig
Sehr rasch
“Litanei” langsam
“Entrückung” sehr langsam

 Barbara Hannigan soprano | JACK Quartet

 The Schoenberg String Quartet was the last part of the Friday, June 7 concert that paired the work with Debussy, Debussy, and Ravel.

The latter two movements of the Second String Quartet are set to poems from Stefan George‘s collection Der siebente Ring (The Seventh Ring), which was published in 1907. The translated poems can be viewed here. 

PROGRAM NOTES
By Christopher Hailey

Poetic imagery, painting, and nature served to stimulate Debussy’s imagination, as did his encounter with non-Western music. In Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut (And the moon descends on the temple that was), a title suggested by the sinologist Louis Laloy, one hears in its suspended stillness elements of the music of Bali, which Debussy first heard in the 1889 Paris Exhibition Universelle. Ravel’s Une barque sur l’océan (A boat on the ocean), the third of his five-movement Miroirs, is a study of motion, captured in surging arpeggiated currents. Un reflet dans le vent (A reflection in the wind) is the last of Messiaen’s eight Préludes, a set written while he was still a student of Paul Dukas. Their descriptive titles may suggest Debussy, their crisp textures Ravel, but these preludes already bear the hallmarks of Messiaen’s distinctive harmonic and rhythmic language.

It was the pestilence of 1579 that got dear old Augustin. Or so it seemed. Actually, Vienna’s beloved ballad singer was stone drunk when he was mistaken for a plague victim and tossed into an open pit. When he awoke the next morning, he had a song to sing: “Augustin, Augustin, lie down in your grave! O, you dear Augustin, it’s all over!” It’s a catchy tune and when it popped up uninvited in the second movement of Schoenberg’s Second String Quartet the audience took note. The uproar – it was December 21, 1908 – seemed to confirm Augustin’s dire prognostication: Alles ist hin, this really is the end.

At a century’s remove it may be difficult to understand the fuss. The quartet is relatively short, its textures and formal layout clear and transparent. The impassioned first movement is an abbreviated sonata form; the second, a fidgety scherzo, interrupted, of course, by the sudden appearance of the sweet triviality of Augustin’s refrain. But the third movement delivers an unprecedented shock: a soprano voice. This setting of Stefan George’s “Litanei” (Litany) does double duty as a series of variations that act as a kind of delayed development section for the truncated opening movement. It has the feel of a single arching line reaching its gripping climax with the words “Kill the longing, close the wound! Take my love away, take from me love” – here the soloist takes a dramatic downward leap – followed by this hushed appeal: “and give me your joy!”

Release comes in “Entrückung” (Rapture), which begins “I feel air from another planet.” Schoenberg’s ethereal introduction is so exquisitely inviting that even today many are unaware that this movement marks Schoenberg’s own radical leap into atonality – the original velvet revolution. It is doubtful that the first audience had any clue one way or the other because by this point in the evening the music was being drowned out by a phalanx of vociferous rowdies convinced that they were witnessing a catastrophe only slightly less calamitous than that long-ago plague. Most critics were ready to toss the work into a mass grave for failed experiments, but the quartet, like Augustin, proved remarkably resilient and soon found more congenial company in the standard repertory.

The myth of Syrinx is the story of a chaste nymph transformed into river reeds to escape Pan’s pursuit. Pan, in turn, creates from these reeds the pipes with which he laments his loss. Debussy’s piece for solo flute, scarcely three minutes long, serves as the prelude to another work of transformation: Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night).

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Steven Schick

73rd Ojai Music Festival
Terry Riley IN C

LUDWIG | Steven Schick, Percussion

PROGRAM NOTES
By Christopher Hailey

There you have it, In C, the first minimalist piece. Its gradually shifting repetitive patterns influenced generations of minimalist and process composers, including Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and John Adams. In fact, Reich (along with Pauline Oliveros and Morton Subotnick) was among the performers at the work’s premiere at the San Francisco Tape Music Center (it was Reich that had suggested the steady pulse of C’s). Riley never thought of this music as “minimalist”; to him it was psychedelic (this was San Francisco after all), not repetition and process, but mind expansion. Oliveras has described the experience as “a cloud of birds tacking the sky with unplanned unanimity” and Michael Tilson Thomas, who did it a few years later at Tanglewood, said it was like being “inside some kind of big improvisation”. The loose, improvisational feel of In C comes from jazz, a major influence on Riley’s music, and, as in jazz, freedom and improvisation are based on listening, on fitting your piece into the larger puzzle. Performing In C requires what Riley called “developing a group dynamic.”

Back in 1964, Riley originally called In C “The Global Villages for Symphonic Pieces.” Not a great title, you’ll admit, but the “global” and “village” bits suggest why this piece has had such wide resonance. Riley has recalled that the first performances of In C were “big communal events where a lot of people would come out and sometimes listen or dance to the music because the music would get quite ecstatic with all these repeated patterns.” This is what John Adams was getting at when he said that with In C “the pleasure principle had been invited back into the listening experience.”

Each performance of In C creates its own blissful global village. It’s a festive ritual, a celebratory group experience. This was perhaps the newest, most radical aspect of Riley’s piece, not its repetitions or its “in C-ness,” which many read as a slap in face of all doctrinaire serialists. Tonality forever! In fact, the piece isn’t really in C at all, since its open-ended modal patterns hint at E and G, as well. But that tonal transparency, those interlocking patterns, were something identifiable, something we could follow, and something that re-imagined both composition and the concert experience. Riley, incidentally, also upset all notions of creative ownership when he published the In C score and its instructions on the first LP recording. So much for copyright. But why not? It’s perfectly in keeping with what Riley calls the “community idea” of music.

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