This fall, fans of modern classical music will basically be rolling in a sonic leaf pile, as three modern masters make the scene.
Glenn Branca– whose sprawling guitar symphonies were a big influence on early Sonic Youth, among others– once collaborated with David Bowie on an audio-visual installation, as he mentioned during his 65th birthday celebration a few years ago and reminded us during his recent appearance a the Red Bull Music Academy festival. To honor his “hero,” Branca is debuting a new work, “The Light (for David),” at Roulette on Oct. 8 (advance tickets are $25-$30). He’ll also unleash a revised version of “The Third Ascension,” a followup to 1981’s acclaimed “The Ascension” that made its US premiere at The Kitchen in February. Bring earplugs, cuz Branca’s work can be ear-shattering and mind-melting.
Before Branca paid tribute to Bowie, he penned “Lesson No. 3, A Tribute to Steve Reich.” As “one of the most important composers alive,” per New York, Reich has clearly influenced Branca, and just about everyone else in modern music. To honor his 80th birthday, Carnegie Hall, Columbia University’s Miller Theatre, and Symphony Space are all presenting tributes to Reich. At Miller Theatre on Sept. 15, Reich collaborators Ensemble Signal will perform You Are (Variations) as well as Daniel Variations, Reich’s 2006 homage to slain journalist Daniel Pearl. Tickets ($35-$60) can be purchased here.
At Carnegie Hall from November through April, Reich’s works will be performed alongside those of like-minded contemporary composers. In C, his trailblazing work of minimalism, will be performed alongside works by fellow mavericks John Adams and Terry Riley (there’ll be a conversation between Adams and Reich after the show). His Pulitzer-winning work Different Trains, which will also be followed by a discussion, will be performed alongside works by Philip Glass and Arvo Part. The highlight of the fest might just be the opening night, during which the transporting video opera Three Tales will be followed by the premiere of a new work, “Pulse.” Peep the full lineup and grip tickets here.
La Monte Young
Like Reich, La Monte Young is considered one of the fathers of minimalism, and has even been called “the most important living American composer” in the pages of New York. Though not as celebrated as Reich, he’s been getting new attention thanks to recent appearances at the Red Bull Music Academy festival and, last year, a new incarnation of his Dream House at Dia’s Chelsea location. Though that installation has been packed up, the original incarnation of the Dream House, a sound and light environment created with his wife Marian Zazeela, lives on in a Tribeca loft, where it has somehow persevered since 1993.
Though the Dream House is mostly just a magenta-hued, carpeted room where you zone out to what sounds a little like a test of the Emergency Broadcasting System as rendered by a microtonal madman, the place occasionally hosts performances. On Sept. 23, Oct. 1 and Oct. 7 at 9pm, The Sundara All-Star Band (featuring the chanty vocals of Young, Zareela, and their acolyte, artist/musician Jung Hee Choi) will perform a Choi composition featuring fretless guitars, a tabla, and, naturally, 77 sine wave frequencies. There’s a very involved description of the piece here, but just trust: This will be a trip and a half.