Steve Reich on writing his first orchestral piece in 30 years

Posted on: November 2, 2018

“At 82, Steve Reich continues to astonish his fans with new music,” writes Richard Ginnell in Wednesday’s (10/31) Los Angeles Times. “This weekend … conductor Susanna Malkki and the Los Angeles Philharmonic [will] premiere … Reich’s first new orchestral composition in more than 30 years, ‘Music for Ensemble and Orchestra.’ Q: What led you back into writing for symphony orchestras? Reich: I was looking at the [LA Phil’s] orchestral setup … and I thought, ‘Hmm, those first desk strings are really in a tight semicircle.’ They could hear each other very well. And the first two flutes and first two oboes and first two clarinets are ditto, also close in. If I were to add two vibraphones and two pianos, I’d have exactly the piece I was working on at the time…. Q: What was it like dealing with orchestras that weren’t used to playing your music back in the 1980s? Reich: When ‘The Desert Music’ was first done with the West German Radio Orchestra in 1984, it was a horrible performance…. Now … orchestras, certainly the L.A. Phil, are very well aware of what I’m doing. They don’t need an instruction manual.”

Posted November 2, 2018