The Colin Currie Group: Steve Reich – Drumming
The Proms percussion group will perform the composer's piece as part of Minimal: Reich in Glasgow
Billed recently by the New York Times as ‘our greatest living composer’, Steve Reich is one of the most influential composers of the 20th and 21st centuries. An artist who breaks down genre-specific music boundaries, Reich is the subject of Minimal: Reich in Glasgow, with four events celebrating his work.
In performances and talks, there is an opportunity to view Reich from different perspectives, including his brand new work ‘Radio Rewrite’ with the London Sinfonietta and the great man himself performing ‘Clapping Music’, his 1970s piece written with the aim of using no instrument but the human body.
From around the same period comes ‘Drumming’, a rarely performed masterpiece which was inspired by a visit to Africa and Reich’s experiences of music there. Formed specifically to perform it in 2006 for a late night BBC Prom, the Colin Currie Group gives the closing performance of the weekend with the Reich stamp of approval firmly in place. ‘It is an incredibly powerful work,’ says Edinburgh-born Currie who has just returned from Japan where he toured the piece with Reich. ‘It really gets to the heart of the matter of what it is to be a percussionist. It’s based purely on a single rhythm and is mesmerising, enchanting and magical.’
Scored for nine percussionists, two female singers and piccolo, the four parts of ‘Drumming’ last around an hour. The first uses bongo drums, the second marimbas and voices, the third introduces the sounds of the glockenspiel and piccolo, and the fourth, unusually for Reich’s use of sonorities, involves the whole ensemble. The sounds are therefore of skin, wood and metal, culminating in all the different timbres coming together. As Currie puts it: ‘Reich puts the rhythm through an endlessly and subtly changing kaleidoscope, to create multi-layered contrapuntal lines.’
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Sun 10 Mar