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CANTALOUPE

RILEY: IN C - BANG ON A CAN

RILEY: IN C - BANG ON A CAN

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In 1964, Terry Riley kicked off a revolution with his landmark piece In C, inspiring such young composers as Philip Glass and Steve Reich. The Bang on a Can All-Stars reinterpret this minimalist classic with an explosive combination of instruments from around the globe, propelling this transcendent '60s masterpiece into the future.

In C is a 42-minute long piece that is played continuously from beginning to end. There are no track breaks on the CD itself, in order to instill a seamless listening experience — as the piece was meant to be heard, and as it was presented live at the World Financial Center on November 20, 1998. John Schaefer, host of WNYC's New Sounds, wrote the following introduction for that concert:

"Terry Riley's piece In C is one of the seminal works of the late 20th century. Premiered in 1964, it was the work that introduced the musical style now known as Minimalism to a mainstream audience. Full of repeating cells, insistent rhythms, and high energy, In C is a work that can also be endlessly colorful. It is an 'open score,' meaning that it can be played by any combination of instruments. Over the decades, it has been played by percussion ensembles, guitar groups, a Chinese traditional orchestra, and a microtonal band, among hundreds of others. In C had a deep and lasting impact on contemporary classical composers like Steve Reich and John Adams; but it also affected the rock world, influencing artists like John Cale and Brian Eno."

Fourteen years later, Schaefer looked back on the concert with a profound sense of accomplishment and awe. "We had started out talking about a piece to go with Brian Eno's Music For Airports. I emailed Terry Riley to ask if he'd be okay with us playing In C. Terry was all for it. The All-Stars agreed it would be an interesting pairing of works, and so the concert was set.

"When the piece ended, I ran backstage, where the All-Stars were looking dazed. Evan Ziporyn said, 'Did you hear that?' I replied that we'd all heard that. 'We got about 10 minutes in,' he said, 'and we just started looking at each other, as if to say, are you hearing what I'm hearing?' A quietly muttered 'holy shit' rounded out the postgame interviews.

"Having been sold on the piece, Bang on a Can now wanted to release a recording of it. It was quickly agreed that they were unlikely to be able to get a better performance than the one we'd recorded. Now you too can hear what is, for me, still my most memorable moment with Bang On A Can."

 

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