Sound of Mind 5: Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians

Instead of a playlist, today’s Sound of Mind is a recommendation for a single, hour-long piece of music.

Few live experiences are more affirming than a complete performance of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians, a communal piece for a large ensemble of percussionists, pianists, violin, cello, clarinets and singers.

The work is a wonderful blend of set parameters and improvisation, with each musical signpost given by the metallophone in the middle – which chimes to start a new section of ideas. Reich’s ideas bubble up to the surface and generate terrific momentum, and the musical language – recognisably his own but drawing from much more primal, African origins – is wholly consonant.

Here is a brilliant live performance from the New York collective eighth blackbird, given at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Take the next hour and a bit out, and enjoy!

(Photo courtesy of Synergy Vocals)

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