20 Musicians

Shelly and I joined friends Stu and Judy and went to a free concert at Western Washington University. The hall was packed. There were lots of students and community members too. We were all there to see and hear something that most people will never get to see, a performance of Steve Reich's "Music for 18 Musicians." Okay. There were 20 and the program named 19 of them. But never mind. 

Reich is a modern minimalist composer who has been called "America's greatest living composer" and "the most unusual musical thinker of our time." I don't know about that but I do know the piece was totally amazing. Generally I'm not a fan of minimalist music of the 20th and 21st centuries, but I loved this piece. It started with a series of chords played by pianos, percussion, a violin, a cello, two clarinets/saxophones, and four singers. Then it segued into sections, each based on one of the chords. It circled back and ended with the chords again. The whole piece lasted an hour. At the end when the music stopped, the audience sat quietly for a long pause before exploding into applause. We all hooted and hollered and congratulated the musicians who played really well and stayed together, not an easy task given the complexity of the rhythms. 

I found this performance (not the one I saw) of the piece on YouTube in case you want to hear and see what it's like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXJWO2FQ16c 

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