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(Steve Reich & Musicians + Kronos Quartet + Pat Metheny) / Carnegie Hall = Gig Of A Lifetime

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

There are 2,804 seats at Carnegie Hall and each one was filled with an awestruck, reverent music geek with glasses and bed head. Or at least that was how it felt.

In celebration of Steve Reich’s 70th birthday three of his most famous pieces were performed.


Pat Metheny, who has managed to look exactly the same since 1977, performed “Electric Counterpoint” with echoes and tape loops of himself. It was only 15 minutes, but it was pretty damned impressive.


The Kronos Quartet came up next to perform Different Trains, which was the first Reich piece I ever heard. If you’ve never heard it, the string quartet mirrors the melodic lines of recorded speech. Reich, an American Jew who took a lot of trains in the early 40s, interviewed people associated with those train rides from his youth as well as holocaust survivors his age. The sentence fragments are repeated in syncopation with train noises and the rhythms of the quartet. Trust me, it’s breathtaking.

Up third was the star of the show: Steve Reich and Musicians performing Music for 18 Musicians.


Like a shmuck, I didn’t bring my camera — as seeing this piece done live (as it is rarely done) is a visual treat as well. It’s kinda like seeing 18 workers at Wonka’s factory — rushing about from their marimbas to xylophones, furiously knocking away at their tools, trading places with others, all in their own little world but all in (supercharged) speed with one another. I don’t know how they can keep it up for 60 minutes without their arms getting very tired. The above photo is similar (but I only count 13) – and instead of longhairs, they today all look like lit professors.

When the piece ended, there was a stunned silence that seemed to last an eternity before anyone wanted to break the spell and applaud. It was either a flabbergasted reverence or no one knew if the piece was over. Not sure. Either way, the bass clarinets, cello, violin and 900 clangling, banging pieces of tonal percussion had close to 3,000 people hardcore deep in the zone. I was worried for a moment that I was going to fall to a case of Stendahl Syndrome, I got a little dizzy & sweaty. It was just at that time when it appeared that the 18 musicians (blazing at lightspeed through shifting polyrhythmic patterns) kinda lost their way too. . .just for a tenth of a second, and the lead vibraphonist had to click his sticks together to keep everyone in time. That’s synchronicity has got to mean something.

In all: unbefuckinglievable


  1. [...] Ann and I had a blast tonight seeing The Fortune Teller, a wonderfully macabre puppet show with some very funny jokes and wonderful sets and props. The show was created by a Mr. Erik Sanko with original (taped) music by Danny Elfman and voice over narration (taped) by Gavin Friday. You’ve got til the end of the month to catch it. It’s in the basement, so a small stage. . .maybe check if tickets are available. It was a full house tonight — actually, I spotted and spoke to David Harrington of Kronos Quartet in front of the men’s room. Odd, as I’d just seen him performing for an audience of three thousand two nights earlier. [...]

    Pingback by Jordan Hoffman Dot Com » The Fortune Teller at HERE — October 23, 2006 @ 9:02 pm

  2. [...] After seeing the Steve Reich gig last week I’ve been listening to him quite a great deal. I bought this CD to flesh out my collection a little bit. “Music For A Large Ensemble” just kinda picks up where “Music For 18 Instruments” leaves off. I think “18″ is a better example of music beaming down to you from outer space. But “Large Ensemble” has moments of escalating beauty that, seriously, leave me short of breath. There is a very sparing use of rising brass soaring over the phasing percussion rhythms and pulsing woodwinds that, I shit you not, might be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. I had to stop walking and grab a parking meter on East Broadway just last night while listening on headphones and, no, I’m not usually so dramatic in public. [...]

    Pingback by Jordan Hoffman Dot Com » Late October Music — October 31, 2006 @ 1:11 am

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