Steve Reich’s brilliance was displayed in a three part extravaganza, in celebration of his work, proving as a reminder of how he is one of the most highly regarded contemporary musicians. Clapping Music was performed by none other than Steve Reich himself and a member of the Synergy Percussion. This was perfomed by one performer playing the rhythm pattern, and the other shifting the pattern by an eighth over time. Drumming, was organic in the sense that the primality of the beating of drums was used in highlighting what could’ve been the sound of raindrops making contact with the surface of leaf. The loudness varied in the pattern of a sine wave, fluctuating up and down, as the percussive sounds produced a rhythm. This was in contrast with the melodic variations for vibes strings pianos with the harmonic rhythms and repetitions creating almost a trance-inducing state to the listener.
Then came part two. Eighth Blackbird, the group consisting of a multi-wind-instrumentalist, violins, piano, and vibraphone, produced a mesmerising sound in Four Organs, reverberating across the Opera House. This was followed by a splendid solo performance by the wind-instrumentalist, who layered phrase upon phrase, alternating from the flute to the piccolo, and more impressively, played from memory. It was concluded rendition of Double Sextet that sent shivers down this listener’s spine. This piece was driven by the pianos and vibraphones, with Eighth Blackbird playing against a recording of themselves in their production of harmonies.
The evening was then completed with a performance of Music for 18 Musicians, consisting of 4 voices, a cello, violin, two clarinets, four pianos, xylophones, three marimbas, two xylophones and a vibraphone (unplugged), which steadily built up in sound over the entire venue. The harmonies and melodies interacted, almost as if in conversation, and were accentuated by the prominent sound of breath, creating pulses which were prominent throughout the entire evening. On conclusion of the hour-long piece, Steve Reich himself made a final appearance, graciously accepting the standing ovation, and greeting each musician on stage as the audience looked on in amazement at what they had just experienced.
PART 1: SYNERGY PERCUSSION 6.00pm – 7.00pm
1. Mallet Quartet – 14’
2. Drumming Part 1 – 14’
3. Variations for Vibes Strings Pianos – 25’ (Australian Premiere)
INTERVAL (20 mins)
PART 2: EIGHTH BLACKBIRD 7.20pm – 8.15pm
1. Four Organs – 20’
2. Vermont Counterpoint – 10’
3. Double Sextet – 22’
INTERVAL (20 mins)
PART 3: MUSIC FOR 18 MUSICIANS 8.40pm – 9.40pm
1. Music for 18 Musicians – 60’