The Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair is a position of distinction at Carnegie Hall. It is a testament to an artist’s accomplishments and influence, and illuminates the oeuvre of the most renowned living composers. Next season, Steve Reich will serve as the Debs Composer’s Chair, curating a series of concerts that delve into the generational distinctions of a style and approach to music that he pioneered. Besides his training at Cornell, Juilliard and Mills College with Luciano Berio, he also studied Ghanaian drumming, Balinese Gamelan and Hebrew Cantillation. He began his career as an avant-garde iconoclast and has become one of the most respected composers of our time.
Of the seven Reich-focused events next season, four will be devoted to his “Three Generations – Changing the direction of concert music” series. It will show how the language of composition changed from the mid-20th century to the present by pivoting from serial atonal music toward a more harmonic and rhythmic style. The “first generation” is given two concerts: the event on 30 March, 2017 centers on the music of John Adams and Terry Riley, and the one on 6 April, 2017 explores Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass, and Reich himself. The “second generation” concert (on 19 April, 2017) traverses the music of the founders of Bang on a Can: David Lang, Julia Wolfe, and Michael Gordon. The “third generation” concert on 26 April, 2017 surveys the music of Bryce Dessner and Nico Muhly.
In addition to the “Three Generations” series, Carnegie Hall will celebrate Reich’s 80th birthday with an event on 1 November, 2016 featuring an all-Reich program: his recent work Quartet, the world premiere of Pulse, and the video opera Three Tales, created in collaboration with video artist Beryl Korot.
Other events include a concert on 11 February, 2017 featuring the Kronos Quartet (longtime champions of Reich’s work) performing the composer’s Triple Quartet and other works. Also, the American Composers Orchestra gives a performance of Reich’s groundbreaking Tehillim, a setting of several passages from Psalms