Indiana State University Newsroom

Grammy-winning composer Steve Reich headlines ISU's Contemporary Music Festival

November 9, 2009

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

The premier event of its kind in the United States, the ISU Contemporary Music Festival attracts an audience from throughout the world. All events are free and open to the public. Other guests of this year's festival include the Steve Reich Ensemble String Quartet and composition contest winner Lansing McLoskey.

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'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.

McLoskey will participate in the festival as the Contemporary Music Festival/Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra composition contest winner. The composition competition was established to recognize outstanding composers of orchestral music.

McLoskey's music has been performed to critical acclaim in 13 countries on six continents. He has received dozens of commissions and grants and has written for such renowned ensembles as The Hilliard Ensemble, Speculum Musicae, and Dinosaur Annex.

McLoskey is president of Composers in Red Sneakers, and faculty at the University of Miami. He earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University, where he directed The Harvard Group for New Music. He holds degrees with honors from University of California Santa Barbara and the USC Thornton School of Music, with additional studies at The Royal Danish Academy of Music.

The orchestral version of "Requiem" will have its world premiere during the Contemporary Music Festival. The piece was originally commissioned as a chamber work for The New Millennium Ensemble (NYC) as a sort of "requiem for a millennium" and was subsequently expanded for orchestra. "Requiem" features a wide variety of instrumentation - flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, trumpets, trombones, marimba, Balinese gongs, snare drums, toms, bass drum, triangle, suspended cymbals, vibraphone, tam-tam, bongos, crotales, piano, and strings.

McLoskey admittedly came to the world of composition via a somewhat unorthodox route. The proverbial "Three Bs" for him were The Beatles, Bauhaus and Black Flag. His first experiences at writing music were as the guitarist and songwriter for punk rock bands in San Francisco in the early 1980s. It was actually through these years that he first developed a love for classical music His music has an emotional intensity that appeals to academic and amateur alike, defying traditional stylistic pigeonholes.

The Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra (ICO), which performed at last year's festival for the first time, returns to perform at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 19 in Tilson Auditorium.

The orchestra, comprised of 35 professional musicians, focuses on programming that is unique to its composition and size by presenting an annual concert series of masterworks from four centuries of music composed for the small orchestra. In keeping with its mission, the ICO performs a body of music that most audiences have traditionally had few opportunities to hear in live performances.

The ISU Contemporary Music 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. Since 1967, more than 175 established and emerging composers-including 17 winners of the Pulitzer Prize and four winners of the Grawemeyer Award-have participated in the festival.

The 43rd annual Contemporary Music Festival is funded in part through Meet the Composer's MetLife Creative Connections program and supported by grants from Arts Illiana; the Indiana Arts Commission, a state agency; and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

For more information, contact the ISU music department at 812-237-2771 or go to .


TUESDAY, Nov. 17

7:30 p.m. Opening Concert, Tilson Auditorium
Post-concert reception to follow in Heritage Lounge


9:30 a.m. Session: Composition Contest Winner, Lansing McLoskey
Center for Performing and Fine Arts, Room 159

11 a.m. Session: Principal Guest Composer, Steve Reich
Center for Performing and Fine Arts, Room 159

2 p.m. ISU Student Performers/Composers Recital
Center for Performing and Fine Arts, Recital Hall

3:30 p.m. Session: Interview with Guest Composer, Steve Reich
Auditorium, University Hall/Bayh College of Education

7:30 p.m. Concert: Guest Ensemble, Steve Reich String Quartet & Guests
Auditorium, University Hall/Bayh College of Education

Post concert reception will follow in the atrium of University Hall/Bayh College of Education


11 a.m. Concert: Faculty Chamber Recital
Center for Performing and Fine Arts, Recital Hall

1:30 p.m. Session: Panel Discussion with Guests
Center for Performing and Fine Arts, Room 150

3 p.m. Music Now Recital
Center for Performing and Fine Arts, Recital Hall

4:30 p.m. Open Rehearsal: The Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra
Tilson Auditorium

6:30 p.m. Concert Comments: Kirk Trevor and Friends
Tilson Auditorium

7:30 p.m. Concert: The Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra
Tilson Auditorium

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Contact: Kurt Fowler, Contemporary Music Festival Chair, (812) 237-2743, or

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




Story Highlights

Steve Reich, regarded widely as one of the greatest living composers, has been selected the principal guest composer of Indiana State University's 43rd annual Contemporary Music Festival, which runs No. 17-19.

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