Indiana State University Newsroom

Contemporary Music Festival awarded NEA Grant; announces Steve Reich as 2009 guest composer

February 19, 2009

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Indiana State University's Contemporary Music Festival has been awarded a $10,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant to put towards programming for the 2009 festival.

"It will be used to bring in guest artists," said Kurt Fowler, the festival's artistic director. "This allows us to continue the tradition of bringing very talented, award-winning composers."

The premier event of its kind in the United States, the ISU Contemporary Music Festival attracts an audience from throughout the world. The Festival gives students a glimpse into the lives of professional composers and performers; promotes the work of up and coming composers; and presents new music to the public through presentations and lectures, master classes, panel discussions and composition contests.

The Festival began in 1967, the product of a two-year grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. Since its inception, more than 175 established and emerging composers-including 17 winners of the Pulitzer Prize and five winners of the Grawemeyer Award-have participated in the festival.

Steve Reich, regarded widely as one of the greatest living composers, has been selected the principal guest composer of the 43rd annual Contemporary Music Festival. He and a portion of the Steve Reich Ensemble will perform during the three-day festival Nov. 17-19.

Born in New York, Reich graduated with honors in philosophy from Cornell University in 1957. For the next two years, he studied composition with Hall Overton, and from 1958 to 1961 he studied at the Juilliard School of Music. Reich received his M.A. in Music from Mills College in 1963.

In 1966 Reich founded his own ensemble of three musicians, which rapidly grew to 18 members or more. Since 1971, Steve Reich and Musicians have frequently toured the world, and have the distinction of performing to sold-out houses at venues as diverse as Carnegie Hall and the Bottom Line Cabaret.

Reich's 1988 piece, "Different Trains," marked a new compositional method, rooted in "It's Gonna Rain" and "Come Out," in which speech recordings generate the musical material for musical instruments. In 1990, he received a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Composition for "Different Trains," recorded by the Kronos Quartet.

In June 1997, in celebration of Reich's 60th birthday, a 10-CD retrospective box set of Reich's compositions, featuring several newly-recorded and re-mastered works, was released. He won a second Grammy award in 1999 for his piece "Music for 18 Musicians." In July 1999 a major retrospective of his work was presented by the Lincoln Center Festival.

Reich collaborated with Beryl Korot on two pieces which combine music, theater and media.

"The Cave," a music theater video piece exploring the Biblical story of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael and Isaac, was hailed by Time Magazine as "a fascinating glimpse of what opera might be like in the 21st century."

"Three Tales" details three well known events, reflecting on the growth and implications of technology in the 20th Century: Hindenburg, the German zeppelin which crashed in New Jersey in 1937; Bikini, site of Atom bomb tests from 1946-1954; and Dolly, the sheep cloned in 1997.

"Three Tales" is a three act music theater work which utilizes historical film and video footage, video taped interviews, photographs, text, and specially constructed stills are recreated on computer, transferred to video tape and projected on one large screen. Musicians and singers take their places on stage along with the screen, presenting the debate about the physical, ethical and religious nature of technological development. Three Tales premiered at the Vienna Festival in 2002 and subsequently toured all over Europe, America, Australia and Hong Kong.

Reich's music has been performed by major orchestras and ensembles around the world, including the London Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, The Ensemble Intercontemporain, the London Sinfonietta, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

In 1994 Reich was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, to the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts in 1995, and, in 1999, awarded Commandeur de l'ordre des Arts et Lettres. In October 2006 Reich was awarded the Preamium Imperial award in Music. This important international award is in areas in the arts not covered by the Nobel Prize. He has received The Polar Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 2007.


Photo Credit: Wonge Bergmann

Contact: Kurt Fowler, Artistic Director of Contemporary Music Festival, (812) 237-2743, or

Writer: Paula Meyer, ISU Communications & Marketing, (812) 237-3783,

Story Highlights

Indiana State University's Contemporary Music Festival has been awarded a $10,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant to put towards programming for the 2009 festival.

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