SRx80: 24-Hour Celebration of Steve Reich's 80th Birthday

Monday, October 03, 2016

Steve Reich Composer Steve Reich (Jean-Baptiste Millot)

On October 3, Q2 Music celebrates Steve Reich's 80th birthday with a 24-hour marathon – specifically one 12-hour marathon repeated once – of his trailblazing music from 1965 to 1990 in chronological order, with a good sampling of later works, many of them introduced by Steve himself. The program repeats Saturday, October 8.

Old-timers talk about the way the atmosphere crackled with ideas in 1970s New York. It seemed the moment you heard about someone doing something wild and new, someone else was already imitating them or transforming their ideas into the next thing. Music, art, drama, fashion, all on fire. For a little while, Robert Wilson and Richard Foreman were creating quite different but equally revolutionary theater pieces a few blocks from each other in their respective SoHo lofts. One of Foreman's crazy philosophical plays featured a voice from heaven announcing the presence of an "idea-giving rock." None of the characters on stage could figure it out until the voice informed them that by looking at the rock they now had an idea about it. Very droll, indeed, but it reminds me of Steve Reich.

Reich didn't invent minimalism, but, along with Terry Riley and Philip Glass, he gave it a new dynamic, and more than any other composer, he demonstrated the means by which he and others could move on to the next thing. He got ideas and gave them to others. Beginning with It's Gonna Rain in 1965, his music had a bracing combination of drive and conceptual transparency, often underscored by sociopolitical reference. He began with tape loops that created phasing, then imitated the phasing process with acoustic instruments, then added other instruments, voices, then harmony, until, over the next decade, he had developed his stuff into something that was decided post-minimal. It's hard to imagine American music in the late 20th Century without him.

On October 3, Q2 Music celebrates Steve Reich's 80th birthday with a 24-hour marathon – specifically one 12-hour marathon repeated once – of his trailblazing music from 1965 to 1990 in chronological order, with a good sampling of later works, many of them introduced by Steve himself. Follow Q2 Music on Twitter and like us on Facebook for live updates. Phil Kline hosts weekdays from 11am to 1 pm on Q2 Music. 


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Comments [10]

@Kathryn Huey from Kansas City, MO: So glad to hear it! Thanks for writing in to let us know.

Oct. 09 2016 01:03 AM

@Maya from London: Thanks for the kind words! We hope you were able to catch some of the marathon's encore presentation on Saturday. Unfortunately due to restrictions for on-demand listening of commercially available recordings, we are unable to post the marathon on our website. We wish it were otherwise! You can download music by living composers in the Q2 Music section of the WQXR app, for your 24/7 listening pleasure however. Thanks for listening!

Oct. 09 2016 01:02 AM

@David P. from Jerusalem: Thanks for your thoughtful comments, and we regret the unfortunate timing of where our marathons fell this year. We chose October 3 because that was also the 80th birthday of Steve Reich, and we wanted to mark the occasion directly. We always repeat our marathons on the following weekend, so it stays timely and top-of-mind, with Saturday being the default and generally most advantageous day for people to listen on the weekend. We thank you for your comments and for listening to Q2 Music, and will take your feedback into account and plan accordingly moving forward!

Oct. 09 2016 12:59 AM
David P. from Jerusalem

Does anyone at Q2 Music read the comments? Just a week ago, before the first broadcast, I commented (see the first comment below) that I was surprised you were broadcasting this on the Jewish New Year, preventing observant Jews from listening.

Tonight, in Jerusalem, at the end of the Jewish Sabbath, I see that you are broadcasting it again. It began at midnight New York time, once again when observant Jews cannot listen. (They can catch the last few hours after sunset tonight.) Since some of Reich's music is based on Jewish texts and recent Jewish history, to do this a second time is clearly in bad taste.

Oct. 08 2016 02:21 PM
unsilentphil from nyc

make that SATURDAY OCTOBER 8 for the Reich marathon repeat!

Oct. 07 2016 01:13 PM
unsilentphil from NYC

the Reich Marathon will be repeated this Sunday, October 9th, beginning at midnight.

Oct. 06 2016 07:42 AM
Maya from London

Thank you for a wonderful evening. I wasn't able to listen to the whole show and I would love to have a chance to listen to the whole session.

Could you PLEASE repeat it or made it available on the website?

I'd greatly appreciate it.

Best wishes,

Oct. 04 2016 06:50 AM
Pabl● Ferr●lterrÄque● from FerrolterrÄque●

¡Thankinhas. Very int3r3sting and guessed right and left program.
A little short 😉!

Oct. 03 2016 06:23 PM
Kathryn Huey from Kansas City, MO

I'm enjoying this SO MUCH. Thank you!

Oct. 03 2016 10:26 AM
David P. from Jerusalem, Israel

I'm surprised you are broadcasting this on the Jewish New Year, when many Jews will be observing the holiday and unable to listen. I'm not sure that Steve Reich himself would be happy about this.
If you are unable to postpone the program for a couple of days until after the holiday, which ends on Tuesday evening, I hope that you will rebroadcast it soon.(Please email me if you do, thanks.)
Shana tova (Happy New Year)

Oct. 01 2016 12:55 PM

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Q2 Music is WQXR’s multiplatform home for musical discovery and dynamic new classical music from trailblazing composers, ensembles and leading New York new-music venues. Q2 Music's 24/7 stream lives online at and is accessible via the free WQXR app.


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