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Leave Your Gavin Bryars Tributes, Anecdotes and Images

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What are your thoughts on the music of Gavin Bryars?

Are there pieces your fellow listeners should look out for? How would you describe his style? Perhaps you remember exactly where you were the first time you heard Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet? Have you performed his music? What stories about the man or his music would you like to share?

Here's an example from conductor and Bryars champion, Richard Bernas:

"Gavin and I first worked together playing keyboards for Harold Budd's Pavilion of Dreams, a recording produced by Brian Eno for his Obscure label. Later he asked me to conduct his first opera, Medea (directed by Robert Wilson) for the Operas of Lyon and Paris.

"The more I've got to know Bryars’s work the more variety and curiosity I find. Variety of means and a real curiosity about what sound is in the world: an early String Quartet tries out of some of Busoni's theorems proposed by the famous manifesto, A Sketch for a New Esthetic of Music; A Man in a Room, Gambling (his brilliant collaboration with the Spanish sculptor Juan Munoz) looks at cheating at cards as a ruminative, speculative pursuit, wrapped inside some of the tenderest chord progressions imaginable. There’s some distance from -- maybe even a coolness about -- the sources of Gavin’s inspiration, but you will find a range of imagination and a technical audacity that never ceases to arouse your interest. He’s an original."

Share your stories and insights on the music and legacy of Gavin Bryars in the comments section below. Perhaps you'll even upload a photo relating to him, his ensemble or his music. 


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Comments [3]

I swear, if I didn't know better, I'd say that Gavin had put some kind of spell on "Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me." How many such tightly repetitious works can we listen to (even we confirmed loop-'n'-phase lovers!) in so many iterations, to such lengths? And still we fall gratefully, willingly, eagerly into cycle after cycle after hypnotic cycle. Right now, it's the string quartet evocation I'm hearing on Q2. And I'm rapt. Yet again. The 50th time for me? Maybe. And I'm transfixed. You know what it's like? It's like what good religion is supposed to be. Once you're past the tramp issue, the ad hominum aspect of the thing, if you will, what you're left with is Gavin working his genius, and ours, fearfully close to our shared concepts of any faith's rightful, swelling elegance, ritual, and -- above all -- its abiding, revolving, endlessly steadfast dependability. You don't have to care a whit about organized religion or even personal faith to feel this. Has form ever matched function with such holy insight?

Apr. 15 2011 11:09 AM
P. Field from NY/NJ

Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet was required listening in my late 90's contemporary music class and browsing Tower that same year I found The Farewell to Philosophy disc and was hooked.

A playwright friend and I used to leave A Man in a Room, Gambling on repeat for hours to set the tone of a room. Most recently I've found myself returning often to Holly Cole's wonderful recording of I Have Heard It Said That...

Bryar's artful elegance showed that minimalist inclinations had inherent capacity to gracefully evolve beyond anticipated textures in the genre and surely deserves to stand as nuanced expressions different but equal to the landmark works of Glass, Reich, Adams, Part, Tavener and Riley. I know my life has been made richer by this music and I'm grateful.

Apr. 14 2011 09:25 AM
George Wallace from Pasadena, CA

By coincidence, and not knowing that these events were coming up, I blogged at length about Gavin Bryars -- who, as I say in that post, on any given day may be my favorite living composer -- back in mid-March, here:


It is heartening to see Bryars receiving extended attention. The range and variety of his work deserves a much larger audience than it seems to have in this country.

Apr. 13 2011 06:21 PM

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