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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Minimalist Icon Terry Riley Explores The Indonesian Gamelan

Composer Terry Riley. (Flickr/encosion)Gamelan Galak Tika at Cleveland Museum of Art. (Flickr/©MartinEisert/Gamelan Galak Tika)Terry Riley practices with Gamelon Galak Tika. (Gamelon Galak Tika)Galak Tika performing Super Collider with Kronos Quartet at Lincoln Center Out of Doors. (Flickr/Kevin Yatarola/Galak Tika)Gamelan Elektrika Reong, at world premiere of Super Collider, Lincoln Center Out of Doors. (Flickr/Kevin Yatarola/Gamelan Galak Tika)Gamelan Galak Tika at Lincoln Center Out of Doors, 2010. (Flickr/KevinYatarola/Gamelan Galak Tika)

In the 1960’s, composer Terry Riley ushered in the minimalist music movement with his revolutionary classic “In C.”

The 42-minute, multi-layered, poly-metric mix of interlocking repetitive patterns has been called one of the most important pieces of music of the last half of the 20th century, inspiring the likes of Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Brian Eno and The Who.

Now, along with his son, classical guitarist Gyan Riley, Terry Riley is expanding his repertoire of eastern-influenced music in a premiere Thursday night with M.I.T.’s Gamelan Galak Tika.

Originating in Indonesia, a gamelan is an ensemble of musicians who play a variety of metallic instruments that are struck with a hammer, along with drums, gongs and bamboo flutes.

Terry Riley tells Here and Now‘s Robin Young that gamelan music and “In C” share a commonality: Both are played by a group of musicians, and though each person only has a small part, they contribute to a whole that would be entirely different without each and every one of them.


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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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