Three Generations: Changing the Direction of Concert Music
Steve Reich, holder of the 2016–2017 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer Chair, returns this spring to curate Three Generations—a four-concert series in Zankel Hall that explores how the language of composition changed from the mid-20th century to the present day. The series kicks off on March 30 with a program that focuses on the pioneering first generation of composers.
I have curated this series of four concerts to demonstrate how concert music has changed from the mid-20th century to the present by pivoting from serial / random chance / atonal music—in which discernible harmony, rhythm, or melody was difficult or impossible to hear—to a powerful restoration of all these musical basics in totally new ways.
The first generation to initiate those changes are now in their 70s or 80s and include Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Arvo Pärt, and John Adams. The music of these composers then interested a younger generation now approaching their 60s, including Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe, who formed the Bang on a Can collective. In turn, a still younger generation, now approaching their 40s, took up both of these earlier generations and carried all these ideas even further. This very large generation is represented here by Bryce Dessner and Nico Muhly.
In addition to the performance of their music by several outstanding ensembles—including Ensemble Signal, Bang on a Can All-Stars, and the JACK Quartet—many of these composers will discuss their music after the concerts.