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Bard's Fisher Center for the Performing Arts and New Albion Records Present "A Weekend with Terry Riley," October 9–10

Celebrated Minimalist Composer Terry Riley Performs One Evening of Works from his Book of Abbeyozzud and One Evening of Improvised Works

Mark Primoff
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts and New Albion Records present “A Weekend with Terry Riley,” two evenings of music with legendary minimalist pioneer Terry Riley and a stellar roster of instrumentalists, in the Sosnoff Theater of the Richard B. Fisher Center for Performing Arts at Bard College on Friday, October 9 and Saturday, October 10 at 8:00 p.m. Acclaimed as “the greatest composer pianist since Prokofiev” by the Moscow newspaper Izvestia, Riley is widely considered one of the most influential and revolutionary musicians of the late 20th century. His groundbreaking 1964 composition In C launched the Minimalist music movement. Steve Smith writes in the New York Times, “Any counterculture embraced by enough people becomes culture; works of art meant as blows against orthodoxy become classics worthy of enshrinement.”

On Friday, October 9, Terry Riley will perform works from his The Book of Abbeyozzud with David Tannenbaum (guitar), William Winant (percussion), Gyan Riley (guitar), and Tracy Silverman (violin). The Book of Abbeyozzud is a series of 28 pieces composed of works for guitar, either solo or in combinations with other instruments. Indebted to the great Spanish music traditions and to those traditions to which Spanish music owes its heritage, each piece in The Book of Abbeyozzud has a Spanish title beginning with a different letter of the Spanish alphabet. Friday night’s performance will include “Dias de los Muertas,” “Zamorra,” “Cantos Desiertos,” “The Moonshine Sonata,” “Darshan for Guitar and Electric Viola,” and “Piedad.” On Saturday, October 10, The Art of Improvisations will be an evening of improvised works with Terry Riley (keyboards) accompanied by Gyan Riley (guitar), Tracy Silverman (strings), David Tanenbaum (guitar), and William Winant (percussion). Tickets for each event are $20, $30, and $35. For more information, call 845-758-7900 or visit

About Terry Riley
California composer Terry Riley launched what is now known as the Minimalist movement with his revolutionary classic In C in 1964. This seminal work provided a new concept in musical form based on interlocking repetitive patterns. Its impact was to change the course of 20th-century music, and its influence has been heard in the works of prominent composers such as Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and John Adams, and in the music of rock bands such as The Who, The Soft Machine, Tangerine Dream, Curved Air, and many others. Riley’s hypnotic, multilayered, polymetric, brightly orchestrated, and Eastern-flavored improvisations and compositions set the stage for the prevailing interest in a new tonality.

In 1970, Riley became a disciple of the revered north Indian raga vocalist Pandit Pran Nath, and made the first of numerous trips to India to study with the master. He appeared frequently in concert with Pran Nath as tampura, tabla, and vocal accompanist over the next 26 years until Pran Nath’s passing in 1996. While teaching at Mills College in Oakland in the 1970s, Riley met David Harrington, founder and leader of the Kronos Quartet, and began the long association that has so far produced 13 string quartets; a quintet, Crows Rosary; a concerto for string quartet, The Sands, which was the Salzburg Festival’s first ever new music commission; and the 2003 Sun Rings, a multimedia piece for choir, visuals, and space sounds commissioned by NASA. Most recently, he has completed The Cusp of Magic for string quartet and pipa. His 1984 work, Cadenza on the Night Plain, was selected by both Time and Newsweek as one of the 10 best classical albums of the year. The epic five-quartet cycle, Salome Dances for Peace, was selected as the best classical album of the year by USA Today and was nominated for a Grammy in 1986.

Riley’s innovative first orchestral piece Jade Palace was commissioned by Carnegie Hall for their centennial celebration in 1990–91. Leonard Slatkin conducted the Saint Louis Symphony for the Carnegie Hall premiere. June Buddhas, a work for chorus and orchestra based on Jack Kerouac’s Mexico City Blues, was commissioned by the Koussevitsky Foundation in 1991.

He has also written for a variety of new music ensembles including the Rova Saxophone Quartet, Array Music of Toronto, Zeitgeist, Stephen Scott’s bowed piano ensemble, The California EAR Unit, guitarist David Tanenbaum, the Abel-Steinberg-Winant Trio, pianist Werner Baertschi, and the Amati String Quartet. In 1989, he formed the new performance ensemble KHAYAL, which specializes in group vocal and instrumental improvisation.

In 1992, he formed a small theater company, The Travelling Avantt-Gaard, to perform his opera/theater piece The Saint Adolf Ring based on the divinely mad drawings, poetry, writings, and mathematical calculations of Adolf Woelfi, an early 20th-century Swiss artist.

Riley’s solo keyboard and piano concerts have become somewhat legendary due to his unique blending of Eastern and Western styles and the unusual all-night solo concerts he gave in the 1960s. He was listed in the London Sunday Times as one of the “1000 Makers of the 20th Century.”

About New Albion Records
New Albion Records was named for the idea of a new land, after Sir Francis Drake’s original name for California in the 1400s. It ranges from the inventiveness introduced into American composition by Henry Cowell to the work of the neglected 15th-century master Johannes Ciconia, and from the minimalists onto the postmodern generation, commingling the medieval with the modern. It has created its own American aesthetic devoted to beauty, thoughtfulness, intensity of feeling, and wide open spaces.

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This event was last updated on 09-17-2009