Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


Steve Reich: 80th Birthday Celebrations – Part 2

Russell Hartenberger

The Percussive Arts Society International Convention is a four-day event featuring concerts, workshops, master classes, and lectures. This year it was held in Indianapolis, Indiana from November 9-12. As a tribute to Steve Reich’s 80th birthday year I gave a talk titled Performance Practice in the Music of Steve Reich that presented highlights from my book.

Lecture given by Russell Hartenberger

Russell Hartenberger giving a lecture at PASIC in Indianapolis, IN, Nov. 11, 2016. Photo: Lauren Vogel Weiss.


On December 1st and 2nd, I organized a symposium at the University of Toronto titled “Reich, Rhythm, and Repetition: Patterns in Music, Speech, and Science.” Nexus gave the premiere of the sixteen drum version of Drumming, Part I by Steve Reich on one of the concerts. The idea to use twice the number of bongos that is normally used for the piece occurred to Bob Becker and me when I conducted an experiment at the LiveLab at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario to determine what actually happens in a phase as opposed to what I think happens in a phase. Details of this recording session are in my chapter, “Anatomy of a Phase,” in Performance Practice in the Music of Steve Reich. Further results from the experiment and the latest research on the project can be found at www.maplelab.net/reich.


Bongos for a sixteen drum performance

Bob Becker and Garry Kvistad tuning the bongos for a sixteen drum performance of Steve Reich’s Drumming, Part I at the University of Toronto, Dec. 1, 2016.

Photo: Russell Hartenberger.


On the final concert of the symposium we gave the Canadian premiere of Steve Reich’s Quartet for two pianos and two vibraphones performed by Midori Koga and Gregory Oh on pianos and Bob Becker and me on vibraphones.

Performance of Steve Reich's Quartet

Performance of Steve Reich’s Quartet at the University of Toronto with Gregory Oh and Midori Koga, pianos and Russell Hartenberger and Bob Becker, vibraphones, Dec. 2, 2016. Photo: Bonnie Sheckter.


The year-long celebration concluded for me with a return trip to the Paul Sacher Stiftung (PSS) in Basel, Switzerland where, since 2008, Steve Reich has been depositing his sketchbooks, manuscripts, agendas, photographs, recordings, instruments, and correspondence. The Sacher archive is an international research center for the music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries with over a hundred collections from leading composers and performers from Bartók and Stravinsky to Feldman and Reich. The director of PSS is Felix Meyer and the curator of the Steve Reich Collection is Matthias Kassel. Tina Kilvio Tüscher is archivist for Reich’s materials. All the folks at PSS have been extremely accommodating in providing me with access to Reich materials that were essential in writing Performance Practice in the Music of Steve Reich.

Entrance to the Paul Sacher Stiftung

Entrance to the Paul Sacher Stiftung, Basel Switzerland, December 14, 2016. Left to right: Russell Hartenberger, Matthias Kassel, Felix Meyer, Tina Kilvio Tüscher. Photo: Bonnie Sheckter.


About The Author

Russell Hartenberger

Russell Hartenberger is a Professor at the University of Toronto and has been a member of both Nexus and Steve Reich and Musicians since 1971. With Nexus, he created the soundtrack...

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